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Clay for beginners


Sile
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I have been vigorously researching purchasing items for my own studio. I believe that I will purchase the Brent ie wheel and perhaps that Skutt KM 818 as recommended by Earth Nation Ceramics. I am stuck with the type of clay I should use. I have read that there are three main types: Earthenware, Stoneware, and Porcelain. I've read that Earthenware is best for hand building. Stoneware is best for beginners and porcelain is typically used by intermediates.  So I believe I will want to go with stoneware for at least a while (I did take a college course). Though I am not sure what kind of stoneware I should purchase and would really appreciate some feedback and suggestions. 

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The base IE does not include reversing switch - you might consider the C model, or the Prodigy, or Legend (Skutt headquarters bein' in your state).

Looks like there are several suppliers in Oregon; Georgie's has several delivery options, hmm...

As for particular clay, you might pick a few (in same firing range) to try. The deep/rich colours may bubble and bloat, hence requiring longer and targeted bisque firing, glazes that clear bubbles well, etc. White/light colours may require lower coe glazes. If your supplier can tell you This glaze formula fits That clay, perfectly, I'd like to meet them - I'll buy lunch.

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Since you are planning to throw, I would start with a clay that contains some amount of grog. Grog makes the clay more stable for throwing, i.e. it can hold a shape better than something very fine and smooth. This is why porcelain is considered a more intermediate/advanced clay.

I don’t agree that “earthenware is best for handbuilding.”  Stoneware is just as good for handbuilding, and both can be thrown too.. The better question is “do want to make foodsafe, functional pots?” If yes, then stoneware or porcelain fired to midrange or above is better suited for that. Many earthenwares cannot hold liquid when fired. Maybe that person meant “earthenware is best for sculpture” because sculpture does not need to be foodsafe? 

The last question to ask yourself is “what color?” White, buff, red, brown .... this is a purely aesthetic choice. 

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21 hours ago, Sile said:

Stoneware is best for beginners and porcelain is typically used by intermediates

Stoneware is not just a beginner clay. Many professional potters have made a living strictly using stoneware clays.

Porcelaneous clays like laguna bmix or plainsman 570 require some intermediate skill but they are generally friendly to 'strangers'.

Porcelains require more coddling and are generally unfriendly and much more expensive.

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Plus 1 on the Laguna B-mix for beginners. Speckled buff from Laguna is a great forgiving clay if you must go with something that appears more as stoneware. Cone 5-6 and has a light southwest brown appearance. An important tip for beginner work: look at the posts on softening your clay. Centering is much easier on a softer clay body and sometimes clay right out of the box might not be soft enough.  Again, like people have mentioned above, this depends on where you are and who your supplier is...

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Local JC instructor pointed out that grog allows moisture to penetrate the clay more quickly (which I believe, but haven't tested).

Sand and/or grog may be tough on hands - at first; one will learn how to preserve fingernails, however. I like smooth clay, I like rough clay. 

Agreed that color choice is purely aesthetic - in terms of working with the clay - excepting that one's skin (and clothing) may be stained. I don't mind it. However, my (rather limited) experience indicates adjustments to firing and glaze choice may be required.

 

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Does the supplier need to be locally? I mean can't I just get basically any type of clay off Amazon? I believe I wan to go with the lighter colors such as white. I read that those colors pop a bit more. I do want my stuff to be food safe. Ultimately I want to make all my dishware (not utensils) and eventually move up to vases and pots. But I would like my dishware to be dishwasher safe and microwavable. 

So it sounds like I should use a grog white stoneware clay at least for my first one to two bags. Any recommendations on brands?

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Supply weight adds up quick - shipping costs (look into it)! You also might find some help and advice in a local and/or brick and mortar shop.

Food safe likely (should) boil down to glaze, however, a mature (fully fired) clay that absorbs a lot of water, say over 1 to 2 %, may be considered less safe. The darker clays may heat up more in the microwave - at min, disclose that.

A reputable clay that matures at a specific cone, over a multi-cone product that isn't (err, may not be) being made for potters. I don't understand wide firing range clay, doesn't make sense to me.

Your original question - been thinking about my journey in clay (hasn't been three years yet, so still "fresh" lol) - still suggest trying a few clays.

Edited by Hulk
can I get offa that number?
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9 hours ago, Hulk said:

) being made for potters. I don't understand wide firing range clay, doesn't make sense to me.

Pretty sure it is produced as a request by studios with poor kilnspersons who don't know how to fire properly. They have little obligation to ensure a high quality product 

$

Walmart used to deliver 50lbs of Amaco 46 till I blabbered it on Fakebook. Now it's out of Stock! (Or the postpersons wised up!)

Sorce

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