Updated: Apr 21
Clay Testing for the Wheel:
I tried out four more clays this month.
Kentucky Speckled Turtle. Smooth iron colored clay. I really loved throwing with it, it was plastic and just lovely earthy clay.
Buff Stoneware by Continental Clay, nice more grey clay with fine sand, great to throw with and very soft.
Midrange Oxidation Body/Mang by Continental Clay. This was a more iron body clay, red with little grit, very soft, doesn't like to much water or sponging.
Continental Clay's mid-fire was smooth more plastic of their clay bodies, nice to throw with, the sample I got was a little firm, but still threw well. What was the best about testing out Continental Clay bodies is they will send you a few smaller samples in the mail, about 5lbs. each, so you don't have to commit to a large box of clay with a large shipping price.
Amaco Stoneware Body without Grog No. 480. Fires to 5 recommended but up to cone 10. Super beautiful results. Bisque to 04 and I fired cone 5 with 10 min hold. Beautiful except some of the Coyote glazes are cracking off, so definitely not a fit with those glazes. I had some pin holing in the Amaco glaze as well, very little but I'm not sure if my kiln might be a little hot, but everything should still be good up to cone 6, so I'm not sure, I've been told to slow down my bisque fire.. so maybe I'll try that next.
Coyote glazes were really beautiful but they flaked off.
Standard brown clay 112 - So far throwing has been nice, fairly smooth, not rough on the hands. Bisque fires a warm color, glazing now so I'll see how they turn out, I'm excited to see this one work out hopefully.
Laguna BMix with Speckles. Great clay, smooth similar to the Bmix but of course slightly darker because of the speckles, The speckles come through in the glazes so I love that about this clay. I've had a little trouble with the Gun Metal Green glaze by Coyote on this clay, not all the time, but sometimes, so maybe because it is manganese speckles or in the glaze, whatever it is, it's a bummer. I guess I'm just really trying to save/use the Coyote Glazes because I love them so much, I'm trying more clay bodies to find the correct fit.
STANDARD CERAMIC #266 DARK BROWNSTONE – CONE 4-6 - loved this clay, little texture but not hard on the hands, fires a super dark gorgeous brown color. My only problem was certain glazes would have some pin holing, not too bad, not sharp, but still, not ideal. Amazing clay if you can find the correct fit for glazes. Also some of the speckled white glazes would pinhole badly
More Update with the WC606, thought I love the clay, it has problems with the glazes I have been using, lots of bubbles in the glazes firing to cone 5. If I fire to cone 4 its okay. But then I'm worried about the clay vitrifying. The glazes I'm having trouble with, which I really love as well are: Coyote Blue Purple and Coyote Gun Metal Green. I recently found Coyote glazes and they are so super amazing color wise I have to find a good match with clay at cone 5 or 6. I'm on a mission.
Update 2021 April.
Upatate Laguna WC606: New Clay this week for me and love it! I just started throwing with it this week and trimmed up some pots this morning. Throwing is nice, very fine texture, but smooth on the hands. Not as sticky or plastic as Bmix5, but no problems with soaking up water or disintegration. I like the dark gray color I'm excited to see what it looks like all fired up and under glaze, so I'll have to update again as I get through the process. This looks promising. As I worked with it today I wished that I can change over to this clay over the Bmix5, so we'll see if that sticks. I'm looking to start working with a clay with more texture and possibly speckles that come through the final glazes/product.
I picked up a few new clays this weekend from The Potter’s Shop in Waukesha (Standard and Laguna) and Paoli Clay (Paoli and Continental) in Wisconsin. For the next few months I’m going to be testing some new clays! I’ll update you with the progress including my two cents worth on the clay bodies! I should clarify that when I say test, I mean how it handles for throwing and how I it looks through the process of making mugs. I’ve used Amaco clays for the last 10+ years, mostly small hand built items and haven’t thought much about them until I started throwing dinnerware. This has lead to my journey to find the perfect throwing clay.
Amaco Stoneware Buff #46: Fairly smooth clay. I recommend wedging well, even straight from the bag as I have had air bubbles and also harder areas of clay which has presented difficulties. This also could be because I purchased through a distributor and the clay wasn’t extremely fresh, it was okay, but not as soft as other clays I’ve tried. It fires light in bisque. I glaze fire to cone 5 and I enjoyed the creamy color of the cone 5 fire. This clay also has a quality I like when it is leather hard it smooths well to itself almost like burnishing just with my fingers. Nice smooth finish to any imperfections.
Amaco Stoneware #48 with Grog: This clay is not so nice to throw with, the grog is pretty sharp in this clay. Also, my clay was a bit firmer from the bag, but that could be from Nasco where I bought it wasn’t very fresh, not very soft. Not sure. I do like the speckles that show through the glaze at cone 5. I’ll be using more of this clay for building and throwing, just isn’t my favorite for throwing all day, pretty rough. When I bought this clay I didn’t know there was an option without grog, but it’s good to have around for hand building! I think I’ll end up using this clay for more test tiles and hopefully something sculptural, still waiting for that inspiration to come to fruition!
Laguna WC607 Clay Cone 6: Testing the week of 4/11/18. This clay was smooth and nice but not as smooth as the WC401. It is close but a little sandier. The sand though is very fine, but you can tell the texture is there. I didn’t have as much fun or luck with it throwing my small mugs. Overall it’s nice. The WC401 was just more natural, who knows maybe it was just the day. That’s how it is with art or pottery. Overall I felt it fell somewhere between the B-Mix and the Continental in feeling. Nothing special that sets it apart for me. I went on to order more B-Mix for my white throwing mugs clay.
Laguna WC611 Clay Cone 6:
Laguna WC401 B-Mix 5 Clay: This is the first clay I choose to check out after using Amaco for many years. What a dream! This clay is soft and very smooth! It is smooth but not plasticy. I didn’t wedge it out of the box/bag and I found no air bubbles or uneven consistency of the clay. I threw about 12 mugs yesterday with no problems. When trying to smooth clay with a sponge or finger it didn’t smooth easily like more plastic clay. It has almost a grain or sand-ish texture when smoothing, the clay kind of moves with you instead of relaxing into itself smoothy. Not a shiny smooth, not that I tried burnishing, maybe then it would be super smooth. Fires pretty white. I've used this now for over 3,000 mugs.
Laguna WC616 #15 Porcelain: May 2018 I created mugs with a bag of WC616. This is my first test of using any type of porcelain but I did enjoy its super smooth body. It seemed to hold together really well even when thin. It also has a nice plastic-ness to it so it was easy to smooth with a rubber rib as well. So far when drying 1 of 24 mugs cracked on the bottom. I hope it is not a trend as they go through bisque/glaze firings. Some of the other clays I’ve tried only cracked in the glaze fire which I found weird.
Standard Dark Brown Clay #26: LOVE the color of this clay when it's fired to cone 5. Throwing the clay nothing special to note, not extra sticky or plastic but smooth, very very fine particles so not like porcelain but good. Bisques to a mid-brown, but when fired to cone 5 it has such a nice smooth texture and dark chocolate brown. I hate to glaze the outsides of my mugs because I just love to handle this natural clay. Plus the color. The only thing is that my experience is some of my glazes pinhole with this clay, may be because of the iron content. Still love it though.
Continental Clay Mid Fire White: I want to say that I’m a beginner so my terminology might be a little funky. Initial feeling are the clay is smooth and it sticks and gathers to surfaces more than the last clay I used. I would like to call it more ‘plastic’ but I’m not sure that is the correct term. It throws smoothly and I’m not sure if it’s possible for one clay to center easier than others, but for whatever reason, this clay seemed to center quick and easy. So far I’m happy with this clay. I’ll see how it drys, trims and glazes!
From Continental Clay’s website: Cone 4-7: Mid Fire White is a versatile, economical cream colored clay body primarily for throwing.
Our smoothest, finely-particled white stoneware body for cone 6.
Dense and strong.
Contains a small amount of fine, white sand.
Although commonly used at cone 6, this clay has also been used successfully in salt/soda up to cone 11.
Fires cream in oxidation.
Paoli DSM 1/2 102517 : This review is on my first experience using Paoli Clay’s DSM 1/2 102517. I’m using it for throwing right from the bag at this point, but will update the review with glazing or other uses as I work through it.
Every time I use a new clay I’m excited for it’s properties that the last clay did not have. This clay has a little grog in it so not as smooth as some of the other clays I’ve tried. I want to say that as long as your not pushing on the wheel were the water and grog are the worst, it was pretty smooth. This clay has a finer grog than the Amaco clay with grog, so not as corse or rough on my hands. Maybe this is a property of clay with grog, but I found that it accepts water faster than some other clays. It didn’t break down the clay while I was throwing but I felt that any water sitting on this clay would break down faster than some of the more plastic clays I’m using. This clay washed up easier too because of that property. It doesn’t stick to your tools or hands or table when wedging as much as some other clays. So far so good. This clay was also very fresh when I bought it. I imagine this is a benefit of buying directly from the Company. The downfall is when I pull the pieces from the wheel they mush a little where I use my fingers to lift. Maybe this can be a new trait in future lines of my pottery!