Friday, February 10, 2012

Matured Clay

There's an Asian tradition of potters digging clay "for their grandchildren". Clay is not a static material. Once it's sieved and wet down, if you store it for a time bacteria (and fungi too I think) get to work in it and change it's structure. Even commercial clays will improve in their plasticity if stored sealed for a year or two. I've been using clay dug out from under my vegetable patch- quite nice in fired colour but very low plasticity so hard to form and inclined to crumble under my hands. I had a bucket of sieved clay that has been soaking now for 1 1/2- 2 years. Scooped out a handful, dried it to workable consistency and surprise, while it's still a bit temperamental it's much more workable than it used to be. I don't think it would survive being thrown on a wheel but for handforming techniques it's not doing too badly.

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