Wednesday, January 07, 2009

clay work

I have spent a few hours each day in the studio--no long blocks of time--but enough to feel like I am back! Did some trimming on pieces I made Monday and Tuesday--but I had done such a good job of covering everything that they really were not ready for trimming. After struggling with 3 pieces I just covered the rest and will get back to them tomorrow.

I have another 'project' at the same time. I have become unhappy that my clay is not vitrified at cone 6 but I am attached to the clay: Black Jack clay from East Texas. My mother was from East Texas very near the source of the BlackJack clay, I was born nearby, and spent the years my father served in WW II living with my grandparents in East Texas. I've thought "I am working with the bones of my ancestors!" And besides all that, I really like working with this clay. BUT it is sold as a "cone 6 - 10" clay--and it really is not vitrified at ^6--as one might expect--vases leave rings on the table! Another reason for my attachment is that I have a LOT of this clay on hand! So I began wondering if I could adjust the clay to increase the rate of absorbency (or decrease--not sure how to express getting it more vitrified.) I queried Clayart discussion group for some suggestions and now I am trying a couple of the suggestions. I added some Nephline Synite to see if that lowers the maturing temperature. Another suggestion was to wedge in some earthenware clay to lower the mature temperature. I am making tiles from both these experiments to run tests to see if either works--and what negative changes it might bring about at the same time.

So, really, with not so much time, I do have a lot going on!

1 comment:

brandon phillips said...

i used to use blackjack clay for a long time. it was wonderful in my salt kiln, and i never had warping issues with it. that was back when i could get a ton for $200, now its something like $500/ton and i've gone over to the darkside of mixing my own gritty clay. my hope is to someday get a peter pugger and mix blackjack with some grit, i hand wedged some and woodfired it once and it was gourgeous! i really liked being able to use indigenous(sp?) but the cost to get it here has become too high. oh well.