As you loyal readers know, my earthenware tests have been a long time coming! During our last firing, I finally was able to fire my preliminary clay tests in the third chamber of our kiln:
I built the world's tiniest bagwall to keep ash off of the pots.
I had 13 tests with varying amounts of local Ivey Red clay mixed with Hawthorne Bond fire clay, silica, corn ash, wood ash, grog, and feldspar. I was hoping for a clay body that was a deep, rich red to purple, and I am thrilled with the colors that came out of the firing:
Although the results of the shrinkage and absorption tests I did on each clay were well within normal ranges, I did have some problems with cracking and warping:
I was thinking of a certain dear friend when I made my little 3-footed test pots!
Today I mixed up 14 more tests--blends of 60-80% Ivey Red (our local red clay from Ivey Construction) with additions of varying amounts of Yellow Banks (since we are out of Hawthorne Bond--I will mix up a few more tests with HB when we get our next batch of dry materials), wood ash (the corn ash gave the clay body a nice color, but the consistency of dry cookie dough), silica, fine and coarse grog, and wollastonite.
Although people have been firing local red clays with wood since pottery began, I have not been able to find many substantial resources on either creating low-fire clay bodies out of local clays or wood-firing earthenware. While initially this left me feeling a little lost (if you can't find it on Google, is it even possible??) I am now seeing the voids in official information as a positive thing. I am free to experiment!
I am starting down this earthenware road as an attempt to root my work in our geographical place--to have my pots come out of the same ground my community walks upon every day-- and because I think the soft, rich colors of the earthenware palate will suit my work. As always, though, making changes in pottery is an exercise in patience. With several upcoming shows and the need to keep our gallery stocked through the summer tourist season, I will be moving forward with my earthenware endeavor verrrrrrrry slooooowly. I'll keep you posted, though, and share what I learn along the way.
Our doggies demonstrating patience--but really hoping to see a raccoon. or kitty. or mouse. or bird. They aren't picky.