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I need to find the best All-In-One clay for cone 5, great for both hand building and wheel throwing

I know.  That's a tall order.  But I can dream.  I have a pug mill and don't want 2 bodies.  

Problem:  I have too many problems with my gas kiln for cone 06 anymore.  I'm DONE.  I am moving to cone 5.

Criteria / Factors:

  • I'm in Southern California
  • I teach 180  high school students grades 9-12, all levels of art skills, so it has to take punishment
  • Not too sandy on the wheel, not too smooth or squishy for hand building
  • Not too dense so it is so top-heavy when trimming
  • I'm willing to pug the new clay to soften it for throwing, if it is stiff and great for hand building, or visa versa
  • Doesn't stain clothes or the tables, rolling pins, or make a mess everywhere
  • Is not pure white (students can't see where they missed glazing spots when using light color glazes - painting)
  • Good leather hard, doesn't soften up too easily when re-wetting  to score things together
  • Doesn't take every indentation to the surface of pieces, temperamentalD
  • Centers on the wheel fairly easily, especially for teen girls with tiny hands
  • Can take a good amount of water from beginners
  • Pulling walls, it is strong, doesn't warp or sag easily
  • Won't dry out too quickly in hands while hand building
  • Doesn't bend or warp easily when removing from the wheel
  • Not so soft that it caves when cutting and sliding off the wheel
  • Doesn't make teens hate the class because it stains clothes or gets everywhere
  • and of course, takes glazes well and can handle a little fluctuation in gas environments

Cone 5 clays I've Tried:

  • Laguna - Dover White:  Nice clay, but pure white.  easy to center, but A little soft when hand building
  • Laguna - Plain (Buff):  Nice light tan color, easy center and to rehydrate if repairing, but a bit too squishy and shows every dent
  • Laguna - Moroccan Sand: I love this clay, doesn't leave residue - color, but a bit dense to center.  It is really dark grayish brown, if they only could lighten it
  • Laguna - Buff with Sand:  Nice tan color, but WAY too sandy for students on the wheel
  • Laguna - Greystone: Too dense and top heavy for  small pieces, hard to center, but really takes a beating with water, warps when thin due to density of surrounding clay
  • Laguna - Speckled Buff:  A bit dark in color, has iron so it gets read everywhere, could stain (think girls with pure white vans)
  • Laguna - LB-6: hmmm, can't remember, but nixed it very soon after
  • Laguna - Sante Fe:  OMG - red EVERYWHERE, like a crime scene
  • Aardvark Clay - SBF - Too dark tan - a bit sticky for students
  • Aardvark Clay -Arctic White:  Too white

Opinions????  Go!!!

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Believe it or not, but I have also tried most of those clays over the last 10 years.  For a variety of reasons.  At this moment I am using Laguna #16 and Laguna WC429.  They are both easy to work with in a number of techniques and most important to me, work well with my glazes and make sturdy functional ware.   But I do not believe they would work for you with your criteria.  

You did not mention Laguna Half and Half WC402.  It has some grog to make it stable but not too rough.  Before I read your list I was going to suggest  Aardvark's Artic White.   It was stable and easy to work with as was Texas White.  I do know that they use Laguna Dover White at our local community college.  Laguna WC398 is not on your list.  I haven't tried it but it sounds promising for you.  

Would you have space in your classroom for your students to change their shoes or wear aprons?  Clay is messy and that does seem to go along with the process.  There are a number of teachers on this forum that may have better advice for you in that respect.  


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You apparently haven't tried Laguna B-Mix 5 with grog. I use smooth B-Mix for all my throwing of functional ware and am considering the grogged version for Raku work. I'll have to run some tests to see if it will hold up to the thermal shock of the Raku firing.


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  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/7/2018 at 5:27 AM, Roberta12 said:

Thank you guys. Appreciate it.  Well... I tried B-Mix but I think it may be a little temperamental for my high school students.  I used it in college.  It hated drips of water.   I am trying a Laguna clay this week called 850 Buff w/sand.  Light tan when fired.  But I mixed it with Plain (no sand) to see what it would be like with half of the sand.  So far, I like it.  Will run a glaze test this week.  

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in your list of requirements you mention 2 things that might be cured without the clay being perfect.

if you want pots to stay round when removing from the wheel or batt, put a flat piece of paper over the damp rim.  if it seals to the damp pot, the paper allows the pot to be, in effect, a ball.

food coloring added to white glaze will allow your students to see what is covered and what is not.

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Yea, just to echo everyone else, it sounds like you might like B-Mix w/grog.  

I throw the speckled buff that you've tried, and have recently started throwing with Quyle Sandstone Buff as well, which I find to be kind of similar but much lighter in color.  It do think it has just a bit more tooth.   I like that it's a local California clay.  

Quyle describes it as being good for the classroom, for what it's worth.  

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I also would check out Laguna Half and Half WC402

I'm not a cone 6 guy but I use 1/2 and 1/2 in their high fire version-they make two types one is groged with super fine grog and will not hand build as well as their Sand or larger groged one-check out both types if they make it cone 6 .I would suggest the heaver sand or grog as its still a fine smooth body but can take extreme hand building forms with the larger particle size mixed in.

B mix seems to be the go to but I personally hate the way it dries on top and stays wet on bottoms and its super sticky as well at least in the cone 10 version-I do not use it.

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On ‎10‎/‎21‎/‎2018 at 2:13 PM, JASON GANLEY said:

850 Buff w/sand.

That's what the local JC uses. I like it ok. It has a low coe; several of the glazes I'm working on at and for home don't fit the 850 (craaaze).

Last semester they brought in some Laguna b mix, as several students didn't like the sand in the 850; I didn't see anyone passing the b mix up for the 850 - then it was all gone.

I'm sticking with Aardvark clay - mostly on account o' the used wheel I found came with two bags o' Aardvark, and from there I was impressed with them when I placed a small order, then later picked up a "big" order with my blue Tacoma. I've only got into the long beach (cone 10), srf, café cinco, and srfg (cone 5/6) so far; on the shelves are four more flavours. I see many of their clays are out of stock now, hope they are able to start mixing again later on...

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The 1/2 and 1/2 for cone 6 has fine sand in it I found out today .WC 402 is the number

I have never used a cone 5 clay but once someone put some in my kiln which goes to cone 10 and I can tell you it bloated swelled and ran a bit.


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I have tried  B-Mix,  B-Mix with grog and half and half for hand building.   I didn't like the cream cheese feel they had and felt like they didn't have enough strength.  Laguna years ago had a white C5-6 clay that was perfect for throwing and handing building but they discontinued it.  The Dover White looks like the closest to it that they offer today.   Have you talked to them about your clay requirements?   Denice

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Every clay body has at least one issue. You just need to decide which issue isn't so much of an issue. For the kids, pick something that is light in color and less likely to have cracking problems. Any issues beyond that are not that a big a deal and can be dealt with. A good throwing body with some fine grog should handbuild just fine.

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Your in SoCal, Laguna is your best bet. You can pick it up on will call through Saturday.

B-Mix cone 6 is about as general as you get. With grog or sand it throws even easier. Both are available.

Back in the day we used Laguna WC33-10 (no longer made) which is probably near the same as B-Mix.

I use B-Mix in all forms for throwing and slab forming pieces.

Your students best friend will be a spray bottle and a good place to dry pieces like a studio cabinet.

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  • 3 weeks later...
11 minutes ago, Wayne H. said:

Do you Bisque fire Bee- Mix 5 to cone 5 ?

No you just about always bisque most clays to 08-thru 04 with 06 being in the middle

If you bisque to cone 5 the clay is vitrified and will not take glaze.

Fire your bisque to cone 06.Thats not cone 6 but cone O6 about 1800 degrees

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