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beginner's dry clay question

updated sat 23 aug 03


JaydetheWriter@AOL.COM on thu 21 aug 03

My husband told me that I could get some clay next time he gets paid so that
I wouldn't have to only buy greenware from the stores and when I looked I have
a bunch of numbers:

Frit 3110 Leadless (50)
Frit 3124 Leadless (50)
Frit 3134 Leadless (50)
Frit 3269 Leadless (50)
Frit 5301 Leadless (50)
Frit 3195 Leadless (50)

I understand what leadless, but the rest of it is Greek. I remember reading
about frit but I didn't understand it very well. What is it and what are all
the numbers? I found these listed on the Great Lakes Clay Co. website.

Surprise, AZ

Snail Scott on fri 22 aug 03

At 11:50 PM 8/21/03 EDT, you wrote:
>My husband told me that I could get some clay next time he gets paid so that
>I wouldn't have to only buy greenware...
>Frit 3110 Leadless (50)...
>I understand...leadless, but the rest of it is Greek. I remember reading
>about frit but I didn't understand it very well.

Frits are used to make glazes melt. The different numbers
are the manufacturer's codes for different chemical
formulations - varying amounts of sodium, potassium,
lithium, calcium, barium, etc. They are used by people
who mix their own glazes from scratch, as part of the
glaze recipe.

Unless you are ready to make your own glazes, you don't
need to worry about these yet. They're seldom used for clay.

Contact the clay supplier, tell them the kind of claywork
you want to do - wheel-thrown pottery, handbuilt pottery,
sculpture (large or small), tile, etc. Tell them, also,
what color clay you would like - red, buff, or white.
White clay will be the most similar to the purchased
greenware you've been using, but colored clay can give a
different effect. Glazes will look different on red clays
than on white, too.

The most important thing about choosing a clay is picking
the temperature you want to fire to. If you've been doing
manufactured greenware, you're probably accustomed to ^06
earthenware (low-fire) clay and glazes, and you might want
to stick with that. If you want to do functional pottery,
though, stoneware will be more durable and moisture-proof.

There are two main ranges of stoneware - 'mid-range'
(cone 4-6) and high-fire (cone 9-11). Since cone 10 is
quite hot, it can be hard to find someone to fire it for
you, and if you have your own kiln, cone 10 will be much
rougher on the elements and wear them aout faster, so I
wouldn't pick ^10 for now. Mid-range stoneware (cone 5 or
6) is a nice choice for functional pottery and for
sculpture intended to go outdoors since it is harder and
more vitreous than earthenware, and there are many nice
commercially-made glazes for that temperature. (Not as
many as for earthenware, though.)

Just get 50# of clay to start, and see if you like it.

It's not hard to mix clay from a dry mix. Just add water
to a bucket, (about 1/3 full) and add dry clay. Mix with
a stick to start, then use a drill mixer to make it the
consistency of slip. Then just let it dry out til it's
the right stiffness to work with. If your climate is
humid, you can spread it on a piece of plaster to dry.

Or you can buy dry raw materials, and mix your clay from
a recipe, just as above. Divide your recipe into smaller
bucket-sized batches, dry-mix first, then add to the

It's not too expensive to buy pre-made wet clay in bags,
though - usually about $15.00 per 50#. More expensive
than dry clay mixes, but lots easier and less messy,
especially if you are just starting out using clay by
hand. Cheaper than greenware, though! Not to sound
discouraging, but unless money is incredibly tight, I'd
consider buying pre-made clay for now.


william schran on fri 22 aug 03

Shay asks about frits, believing they may be dry clays.
Frits are materials created to be used as a glaze ingredient.
Here's a link to Laguna Clay that shows the chemical make up of the
frits you ask about.