search  current discussion  categories  teaching 

soft clay and beginners

updated sat 31 aug 02


Martin Rice on fri 30 aug 02

Hi, Jungle Jim here -- also beginning to be known to his friends as Potty

Many of you have been following my misadventures in my MFA program (Martin's
Failing Art). But I just wanted to write a couple of things about soft
clay -- especially for the beginners who are reading this.

Until recently, I had been throwing -- well, trying to throw -- with two
different types of ready-made red clay, the only two types commercially
available here in Costa Rica. I had nothing to compare them with as far as
softness was concerned because I had never worked with clay before. Once,
one of the bags stayed open by accident and I was able to tell it had become
really hard -- and got great advice from the Clayarters on how to soften it
up again.

Then, about four or five weeks ago, someone gave me a recipe for a ^04
clay -- grey turning to white when bisqued -- 70 ball clay, 10 feldspar, 10
calcium carbonate, 10 talc. So I started to mix my own (I use the
foot-squish method in a large tub -- effective and lots of fun).

When I started then to use this clay, it was as though I had made a HUGE
breakthough in my throwing -- objecitvely the stuff I'm throwing is still
ugly, but sooooo much better than what I had been doing, so much easier to
work with, so much faster for me.

The difference compared to what I had been using was almost like the
difference between a brick and a pillow. I have so much more control, I work
with so much less water, I work so much faster, I can concentrate so much
better on what I'm doing, and on and on and on.

So I'd really recommend to any beginners out there using hard clay to give
soft, responsive clay a try. I can't imagine that you won't be as pleased as
I am.

Lagunas de Barú, Costa Rica