Category Archives: clay bodies

Lessons Learned

I read about Meagan Chaney’s 30 Minute Challenge today and thought I’d give it a go. I normally don’t have a lot of studio time after work anyway, so I thought I’d find out what I can really get done in just 30 minutes.

Not counting setup and teardown/cleanup, I made 3 small guinomi / tea / wine / saki cups, and one large 11″ bowl.

What I learned was:
1) Loafer’s Glory is a little less forgiving than Little Loafers. I clearly need more practice time with this new body.

2) Doing a time challenge with a new clay body you’re not used to is clearly a bad idea.

3) Even with the difficulties, I was happy with what I got done, and had a lot of fun too!

So, if you’re not up to Mr Kline’s 12 by 12 challenge, give Meagan’s 30 Minute Challenge a try!

Progress report

After a particularly busy week last week, I finally got a chance to get back in the studio last night.

I threw 2 2lb vase forms with the new Standard #240 white stoneware. I’m thinking it’s at least as good as the old 563, if not better. I didn’t have much trouble controling it or getting decent height from it, and that’s significant given how out of practice and challenged I am right now.
Overall, a very satisfying evening.

Another day, another clay

I’d recently gotten a comment on my clay review post on Standard #563 from Curtis that it had been discontinued. Standard has replaced it with #240, another smooth white ^6 stoneware.

So when I went to buy new clay last night, and discovering they were out of my favorite Little Loafers, I got a bag of #240 to try.
It wasn’t bad at all. I’m still out of practice, but it seemed a bit easier and well behaved than the old 563. I’ve mainly been trying to have fun and experiment, but I’ll have to find out how well the new clay burnishes and polishes after a saggar fire.

Clay Review -Standard #112

Today’s clay review is Standard Clay Co. #112

It’s a buff cone 6 stoneware with dark specks of manganese. The same clay is available without specks as #225.

Lots of people like this clay. It’s generally the recommended clay for all the beginning wheel classes here at Pullen. I used it myself exclusively for several years, before branching out and experimenting with other clays.

I’m still struggling to re-adjust to it after using the smooth white stoneware for my saggar work. I’m better able to control it when throwing small work, 1, 1.5 pounds, but run into serious issues over 2-3 pounds. At this point I think I’m going to take the advise of Deborah and Gary and age the rest. Just divide it, wedge it a bit, and take it home for a while.

The iron and manganese react well with glazes giving nice results. As usual, the grog, grit and manganese make for a poor surface for burnishing. As the clay shrinks in firing, it all pushes through the surface. It’s still an interesting surface though, just not completely smooth.

Clay Review -Highwater Little Loafers

Today’s clay review is Little Loafers, from Highwater Clays.
Formulated as a cone 6 version of their cone 10 Loafers Glory, it is also a smooth, white stoneware with no grog or grit.

I started using this body last spring, after another potter suggested that if I liked the Standard 563, I’d probably like Little Loafers. They were right! To me, it has all the smooth response of the 563 without as much of the fussiness. It seems to stand up better, and the S cracks have been nearly non-existent. The ones that did appear were clearly my fault, and were on pieces intended as tests and not at all properly thrown.

Like the 563, it takes a beautiful burnish and saggar fires well. I haven’t done any handbuilding with it, but from the way it throws, I’d suspect that while it might not be ideal, it’s probably better behaved than the 563.

It quickly became my favorite. But alas, there was none on the latest clay shipment.

Clay Review -Standard #563

I thought it might be useful to share my personal thoughts on the various clay bodies I’ve used and loved or hated.

First up is Standard Ceramic Co. #563. It’s a white stoneware, cone 6, no grog.
I really liked this clay from the first time I used it. In the beginning, it was a bit harder to control because it was so much smoother and responsive than what I was used to.
Having no grog, sand or grit, it burnishes very well if you’re into that sort of thing. I am.
It can be a bit more prone to S-cracks in the bottoms if you leave your bottoms a bit too thick or don’t compress them well, so pay attention to your technique and don’t skip steps.

I’ve not handbuilt with it, but others have said it doesn’t have enough grog (none) and is difficult to work with. Your mileage may vary.