I am just getting back into clay after a long hiatus due to lack of studio space and other responsibilities. In the past I have usually known other potters where I could get some leads on good clays and glazes and check out some samples. I don't know any potters where I live and have had to rely on manufacturers write ups and test tiles at a supplier. At the clay store everyone says "you'll have to test it". Well, that's for sure but without a glaze studio I have accumulated some clays and glazes that are not working the way I hoped. I am hoping I can shorten the learning curve with some advice from those who have used Western clays.
I do smaller scale hand-building: a good cone 5/6 porcelain and a white stoneware with a bit more strength (really fine sand or grog only) would both be desirable (no wheel work). So far I have had a lot of glaze fitting issues with the bodies I have tried (some success with clear glaze on porcelain, but success with a celadon type glaze is on my wish list) My location is Arizona so I would probably be looking at California manufacturers. I am considering a couple of Aardvark clays for my next clay trials (Nara 5 and BeeMix with sand), any comments on those? I do both slab construction and pinching and like a smooth body. I prefer white bodies so that I lessen the chances of contaminating porcelain with another color and I also plan to use body stains in porcelain. Firing is electric oxidation.
Just to eliminate a few questions: I have already tried to fine tune bisque firing and I don't think it is the problem. I have called the clay manufacturer and spoke to a tech guy there, and I also talked to a guy in the back at the clay store. In the end I got honest comments about both clays I have been using that lead me to think they are less than ideal for my purposes and one is particularly difficult to get a good glaze fit under any circumstances. So I am back to looking at trying other clay bodies and hope that I can stick with one manufacturer to help with shipping. With any luck I might even find that some of the glazes I have already purchased might fit better on another clay. It isn't practical for me to start up a glaze studio right now so I would probably do best to find commercial glazes but would use glazemixer.com for a proven winner.
I would be grateful for any suggestions since my time is limited and I want to reduce stress in my life by having more fun with clay and enjoying the end result. As you might imagine, this is my first post.