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Hi everyone. No education/classes on ceramicshere. I found a vein of clay near my home in Mississippi and have been playing around with making trinkets for years. What kind of clay would it probably be? It’s from a ‘sand pit’ near a creek in Noxubee County in MS. It’s white. There is a thick vein in the sand I can just break huge chunks off after digging under it. It has flecks of mica in it I think or fine sand particles that make it sparkle. I have only ever fired any in a garbage can surrounded by a junk fire. It turned black (I think from smoke) but still sparkled. Don’t think I got it fired all the way. Also I’ve tried stepping up heat slowly after the trinkets are bone dry in the oven leaving it at max heat for a while and then blowtorching till red hot then cooling down slowly in the oven. Mixed results. No kiln so I’ve never properly fired any. Wondering if anyone might know what kind of clay I have found? It’s a delight to work with. I think anyway. Some people come to the area to collect it to eat. Kaolin I think? If anyone could point me to a resource or forum I could learn more about clay types, what type I may have and the type of wares I could make and how to fire them I’d be grateful. Including some pics. I can make the trinkets look glazed by burnishing them. I wanna fire tho and learn about glaze. But really wanna work with this clay not store bought this clay seems special to me somehow.  




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Hi LC!

Very cool!

Perhaps forum regulars who have experience digging, analyzing, treating, amending, and using "real" clay will chime in here; in meantime, found a reference - see pg B64 (it's pg 72 of the .pdf file) here: https://pubs.usgs.gov/bul/1199b/report.pdf (looks like a 1965 publish date)

These docs might also be helpful: 


https://pubs.usgs.gov/bul/0750g/report.pdf (extensive testing of clays)


Search string "white clay noxubee county ms"


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Hey there @LC88 Fellow Mississippian

I had dug some clay in Holmes county. This area is in the Yazoo River basin. The clay is white but fires to a reddish at cone1. The clay has an enormous amount of calcium. When fired to cone 6 it oozed calcium so much so that the piece looks like it has been glazed with a lava glaze. Both of these tests were single fired. It is plenty plastic on its own.



Edited by dhPotter
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LC88- will address this later, lost track of time. 

Edit add: the first photo is iron bearing clay; identified by its red color. The white clay is more likely white ball clay, rather than kaolin. Kaolin typically is non-plastic and would resist forming as you show. I have seen some deposits in Georgia, but tends to present "yellowish" due to high titanium levels. Clay harvested from creek beds, forested, or heavy vegetation areas most likely derive its plasticity from organics. Vegetation converts to humus: 2 types are commonly sold in garden centers as potting soil. The other two types: (muck) is easily reconized by the sticky/tacky property when handling it. (Ord) humus is just beginning to develop its clay structure; and is the most plastic. Add one cup of clay to a pint of water and stir/shake vigorously. Check for dark materials that float- organics. Cover and let stand for a week- the smell will let you know how much organics.  You can wet or dry process the clay, if you wish to. I can PM some videos to help you in your journey.


Edited by glazenerd
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I’m going home (live in kansas now) in a few days I will take some pics/vids of the harvest location. The ‘sand pit’ is a feature that’s been in the area for a long time. Not sure the geology there but there is a stream just yards away and the clay is in a 3-6” layer ‘vein’ in a grological structure of mostly a fine sand. Powdery white sand. Which I have added to the clay for some projects. I want to assume the clay was deposited by the stream as it twined through so maybe an alluvial clay? Primary clay seems unlikely in almost pure sand. Def some iron present in some spots there are worm/root like veins of red iron oxide (I’m guessing). 

I’m fascinated by this location and hoping to find someone interested as a case study? Message me if ur interested in me sending some to you maybe. (Would send in powdered dry form to decrease shipping weight with a sample chunk of raw clay. Would love to trade with someone if u had a wild vein you harvest. 


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