- Clay reviews: Standard 211, 240, and 563; also Micaceous clay from Coyote.
- September 7th, 2013
These are the only ones I've tried so far - well, other than the "mystery clay" from high school (of which I still have a bit of, but haven't used because it's ^04-06 and the studio that fires for me is mainly ^6 so I got into that in the meantime).
The first clay I ever tried was Coyote Clay & Color's Micaceous Clay. If I knew then what I know now, I would have waited for this... It's fun to work with, because it's shimmery and sparkly and has so much promise - the mica means that it has better thermal shock properties, so you can use it for ovenware! - but it's a very "short" clay and isn't as plastic as others. The crumblyness makes it a bit hard to work with and as a beginner I was ill-prepared for it. Plus, I have stuff that I've made and not fired because to avoid burning out all of the mica you have to fire it to ^1 or ^2 and although I could do ^06 glaze firing in with his bisque loads, Bob at Riverbottom doesn't do anything other than ^06 and ^6 unless you buy a whole kilnload. Which I don't have enough ware to do. So it sits. And it really should be burnished, which can be done with a little oil and some sandpaper, when I finally get around to it.
Standard 211: Hazelnut. My second try and my first foray into ^6 clays. This clay fires to a lovely dark brown at ^6 in oxidation, though the bisque firing is still a terracotta-like color. It takes glazes well, as advertised, and I have used it for both handbuilding and wheel work with few complaints. One major complaint is that the grog particles in it are rather large and the sides of my hands would get chewed up by the grog as I worked to center clay...as a beginner (at this point, still very much a beginner) it takes me a while to center. I'm still trying to figure out if it's me or if it's the wheel. So while I do like this clay and will get it again, the grog could be finer or less plentiful. It really comes up when using a sponge (and even a chamois) to throw or finish. The red Sherrill rib is the only thing that's really worked to press it down, as well as spoon-back burnishing at leatherhard. The grog also gets in the way with sliptrailing at times.
Standard 240: White Clay. It's not a WHITE white like porcelain. It does tend to have a yellowish tone, especially when paired with Amaco's HF-9 and Coyote's clear. It's weird that in photos it's not as obvious as it is in real life, but I don't know all of the settings on my camera to make it show up properly. It's not bad with Amaco's Celadon or Ultramarine Blue, or any of the Coyote glazes I've tried, and the Amaco Velvet underglazes work just fine with it so far...but the clear glaze on top of the underglazes lends it a semi-aged look, especially where the heavy application of the glaze crackles. Throws well and has no grog (which is nice on my tender paws) but that does limit the amount of water that it can take on. And I throw with a lot of water because, well, I kinda started with micaceous clay and learned some bad habits. I'm working on using less! I'd get this again happily, but if I want white I'll need to use white glaze or underglaze or slip or something. Oh, and sliptrailing with this is excellent as long as the slip is a good consistency and the ware isn't too dry.
Standard 563: Creamy White Stoneware. They aren't kidding when they say creamy. It doesn't take on much water at all before it kinda collapses and I haven't been able to do much with it over a certain size. But it is white! Very white. And there's no grog. I don't think I'd get this one again, not only because it's so damn buttery but because the high shrinkage rate just between wet and air-dried doesn't work with the type of sliptrailing I wanted to do with it...and until I get to be really good I'm still going to use more water than this clay can handle.
On my list to try next:
I'm in a quandary about which one to try next. I have Ideas for the hazelnut (of which I have about a pound or two left from the last bag, but not enough for what I want to do), but I'm also very interested in trying something speckly (112, 760, 378) and one of the white kitchenwares (762, 630). 710 and 266 are even darker than the hazelnut, and as unglazed storage jars or planters, or even coated with a matte clear, that would look really sharp.
So many choices!