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Is there a learning curve with new clays?

I just bought two new clays and at this point it seems that my skill level has deteriorated.  Is there a solution so I'm not recycling so much clay?  Maybe wedging more or something?

TIA

-Rippity

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yes, and the most important part of the learning curve to remember is that just because you bought it, you are not obligated to like it or use it.   i worked my way through about 6 different clay bodies before finding the perfect one for the work i like to do.   it took years to find,  many joyful years of using it and then it changed so much that i am looking for something else.   buying up any of my old clay that i can find.  found 25 pounds today and am very happy with it.

unfortunately, my situation is not that uncommon.

what works for one style of work may not work with another so even if you find one that throws beautifully, it might not work for slabs or sculpture.   good luck finding one you like.

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1 hour ago, Rippity said:

Is there a learning curve with new clays?

I just bought two new clays and at this point it seems that my skill level has deteriorated.  Is there a solution so I'm not recycling so much clay?  Maybe wedging more or something?

TIA

-Rippity

I'm a porcelain guy who throws a little (only 200lbs or so) of raku during the summer time.

 

5 lbs of porcelain and 5 lbs of raku throw very differently. Raku (and most high grog stonewares) are very good at holding their shapes. A nice hot day by me (90s or so), I can throw 10 big raku vases by noon, and have them in the kiln the next morning with a 8hr overnight preheat- no issues, cracking.  (I know that isn't about throwing) However, throwing between stoneware and porcelain tends to be difficult, especially if you throw large vases. Stoneware is really easy to throw thin and stretch, Porcelain and other fine-grog clays tend to suck for throwing with really large shapes, they distort and get mushy, especially if you are taking hours on a single piece.

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I believe there is a learning curve, ever so slight with every box of clay I use. For example: is this fresh clay from the manufacturer as in August 2019 when I first started to throw it; is this clay that has frozen one, or two winters; is this clay from the box hit by the sun everyday as it is not quite under the kayaks? Point being, each of these is of a different consistency.

On the other end of the problem is the part Brandon talks about. I am presently using two clays in the studio, Hazelnut Brown 211 and  White 630 both from SC. I like them both. . .now, but when I first started with them I hated them. The Hazelnut through well, but was not as forgiving as the 112 I had been throwing with, and it is also very dirty, especially when following with the 630. The other problem I had with the Hazelnut Brown was the glazes that I had used came out so dark on it that they had no vibrance. Solved that with Either a white slip, or a white underglaze. . both worked well for different effects. The 630 turned out to be a different set of problems, Seemed to hold water, made a slurry in the bucket fast, when stiffer plates were almost impossible not to crack, Tall forms were tough to get over 30" before shaping. I like to throw dry and at first it did not respond well, but with a little more water yes. Now that I have adjusted my throwing both work, but it takes a while to get all the bugs out.

Why did I leave my old trusted 112 and 201? I was looking for clays that fired a little more dense or with a lower absorption rate, more contrast to the bodies, and something new. As far as the learning curve, that was a plus in the whole equation.

 

 

best,

Pres

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On 3/23/2020 at 11:23 AM, Pres said:

I believe there is a learning curve, ever so slight with every box of clay I use. For example: is this fresh clay from the manufacturer as in August 2019 when I first started to throw it; is this clay that has frozen one, or two winters; is this clay from the box hit by the sun everyday as it is not quite under the kayaks? Point being, each of these is of a different consistency.

On the other end of the problem is the part Brandon talks about. I am presently using two clays in the studio, Hazelnut Brown 211 and  White 630 both from SC. I like them both. . .now, but when I first started with them I hated them. The Hazelnut through well, but was not as forgiving as the 112 I had been throwing with, and it is also very dirty, especially when following with the 630. The other problem I had with the Hazelnut Brown was the glazes that I had used came out so dark on it that they had no vibrance. Solved that with Either a white slip, or a white underglaze. . both worked well for different effects. The 630 turned out to be a different set of problems, Seemed to hold water, made a slurry in the bucket fast, when stiffer plates were almost impossible not to crack, Tall forms were tough to get over 30" before shaping. I like to throw dry and at first it did not respond well, but with a little more water yes. Now that I have adjusted my throwing both work, but it takes a while to get all the bugs out.

Why did I leave my old trusted 112 and 201? I was looking for clays that fired a little more dense or with a lower absorption rate, more contrast to the bodies, and something new. As far as the learning curve, that was a plus in the whole equation.

 

 

best,

Pres

Hazelnut brown is my favorite clay body by such a long shot. It sucked for vases but was such a joy for cups.

 

It destroyed my studio, dyed everything red, and my glazes looked awful on it, but something about that raw clay made me fall in love with it. I haven't used it in over a year, i'm all porcelain now, but its a great clay for beginners.

 

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I've used Amaco's 46 and 38.

Standards 547, 266, 710, 365, 105, 205, 508, 130....

But nothing is like this 101. 

It's rubbery like a polymer clay. Noticed the definition said for "sculpting". Makes sense. I pay more attention to those recommended uses now.

Learn what they're good for. Too many people try to use one clay for everything. Then spend lifetimes fixing problems.

Your supplier should let you sample things, or at least touch them!

Sorce

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13 hours ago, Sorcery said:

I've used Amaco's 46 and 38.

Standards 547, 266, 710, 365, 105, 205, 508, 130....

But nothing is like this 101. 

It's rubbery like a polymer clay. Noticed the definition said for "sculpting". Makes sense. I pay more attention to those recommended uses now.

Learn what they're good for. Too many people try to use one clay for everything. Then spend lifetimes fixing problems.

Your supplier should let you sample things, or at least touch them!

Sorce

I have had a hard enough time adjusting my glazes to 3 very similar stoneware bodies, I would hate to try doing it with 11 wildly different ones!

I think the reason most potters settle into 2-3 clays is because their gallons of glaze just aren't going to fit a wide variety of clays.

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