This last week I made clay. It’s sticky, messy and super exciting to do if you happen to make things from clay!
It has a curious ring to it. Where does it come from? Isn’t it just lying around waiting to be dug up?
Every clay has a set of characteristics unique to it… but the best clay is the clay closest to you. The clay closest to me is from Makhanda, known as Grahamstown not too long ago. 55 kilometers is close enough when you are tucked away in a rural village far from clay suppliers.
Makhanda has very white Kaolin. It might be white but its not very plastic! Meaning it doesn’t stretch and hold its shape as well as other less white clays.
There are also other things to consider like how well the clay accepts glazes, its shrinkage and more.
So a good clay is usually made up of a mix of clays and other ingredients to get the needed characteristics.
Did I mention clay making is messy? I have a big drum that gets filled with dry hard lumps of clay, water and other ingredients. A paddle mixes the clay for some hours making a creamy smooth slip.
This slip is then passed through a sieve and dried on a cloth lined brick trough.
This is hard work, but having new clay is exciting and lifts the spirits!
The clay usually dries over a few weeks. I then get to use it to make beautiful things for you!