Saturday, January 5, 2013


 Many of the people who visit our area see our red dirt and assume that is our clay. No, that is our hard as a brick dirt that won't grow a weed without some help.

We decided a long time ago to use a good commercial clay body and not go out and dig our own. Many folks think we all dig and process our own clay.
We do not.

We did try a clay we found on the property and it had too much sand in it and glazes just sheared off.

The ease of buying clay can move things along in the production of pots by saving the steps of process your own.
Originally the potters here did dig and processing  their clay bodies. Those, like their glaze recipes, were kept close to the breast and not shared. A real don't ask don't tell.
We once asked Nell Graves of JB Cole Pottery to try her clay body and she looked at us and said," You try this and you will never go back. You will never find a better clay".
 We did try it and it was fine as silk.
But- I went right back to that stoneware.
I have tried many different clays but have always been drawn back to stoneware.

I pugged up all the clay the other morning and Mark was quick to use a lot of it up with the lamps that have been ordered.

I took a picture of this one while it was slowly spinning on the wheel.
These are made in sections.

Today or tomorrow this one will be stamped and carved.

Here is another one waiting to be finished.

I have been making some of those smaller pots that help fill the kiln while Mark works on the lamps.
Now to figure out what else will fill up the rest of the kiln.
Do you ever find yourself with so many choices to make that you just don't know where to begin?
I used to always start with mugs.
A good round of mugs seems to get me in the mode.
But this time I went straight to cruets and some small colanders. Heck- why not?
I am going to start next week with those mugs.

We had the most marvelous winter day here yesterday and it reminded me once again of why I love the south this time of year. Today 50's.

Time to get cracking!


Tracey Broome said...

I was once at a sale that Ronan Peterson had. He was putting terra sig on these octagon pots and they were red like the dirt here. One lady had a piece in her hands and said, "just look at that North Carolina clay!"
That "NC clay" was purchased from Highwater, haha!
It's funny how people think that red dirt is synonymous with pottery. I'll take a good commercial clay any day!

Shortstuff said...

Yeah, small colanders with the draining dish and those small mixing bowls...just in time for spring berries and pancakes! Perfect choice.

cookingwithgas said...

TB- we do hear that all the time....
Les- thanks! and Thanks! You know what for.

Dennis Allen said...

A friend of mine owns OHIO SLIP and every now and then I dig some of his clay to throw flower pots with.If I dug all my clay, I would have to double my prices. Who am I kidding, I'd have to quit. I can barely unload a truck full of clay let alone process it.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

OH YES I sure do have a long and growing list of things to make :)

cookingwithgas said...

Dennis- I hear your back talking- me too!
Gary- we all need to get to work! Right?

Lori Buff said...

Highwater makes great clays, they do all the work, I just have to open the bag & throw. Works for me.

Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...

I'm hoping this means some more before and after kiln shots are coming soon! Not being a potter, I always enjoy these posts about the nuts and bolts of your work.

cookingwithgas said...

You are right Lori- they do make great clay.
Claudia- they are coming soon.
Fill and photo works for me!

Peter said...

As I fumble through my battered and clay splattered jumble of ribs, needles, and kidneys (sounds like ER!!), I will remember the splendid sight of Mark's tools nicely organized on their hooks on the wall behind the wheel, mostly above the splatter zone! Ah bliss!

I don't process my own clay, or though I still feel some guilt about that when it comes to earthenware, as our village is sitting on good earthenware clay.

I suppose that in the good ol' days potteries would have had apprentices toiling away at processing clay, and an old mule pacing in circles around an enormous pugmill... all giving the master potter the precious gift of time to work!

cookingwithgas said...

how true Peter- that or those 12 kids they had...