I was recently contacted by a fellow potter that I know from the annual Potters Market, who had a fun thing to offer me. Jan Robb makes wonderful functional pottery and tiles in rich green glazes with leaves impressed into the clay. Her work is quite lovely... you can find it in her Etsy shop. She makes tiles and uses a tile press to make them (which is a bit more advanced than my method of hand hammering the clay into molds, and one of the reasons I don't make a lot of tile). Anyway, her process leaves her with some extra slabs that are a little too stiff for her to use again in her work. She would have to reprocess the clay and doesn't have a pug mill set up. I hate reprocessing the tiny amount of clay scrap that I create with my work, so I don't blame her. She called me up to see if I could use the extra scrap and I thought I would give it a try!
Jan's clay is different than mine. For these tiles, she is using a production porcelain. I use a more traditional porcelain which is ultra white and contains a lot of English Grolleg China Clay. These clays feel different when working with them. The production porcelain contains a lot of ball clay, which increases workability and gives the clay plasticity. It also helps it fire white while giving it some structure to make it feel a little more like stoneware (without the grog). My porcelain is very soft and silky. I have said before that it feels like cream cheese, which can be lovely for its fineness, but is also very frustrating to work with. I used a few of the slabs that Jan gave me and found I needed a little time to get used to the different texture, but ended up making some fun things already, so I am excited about using more. Also, they are in a perfect pre-slabbed form, so I can just give a simple roll of my brayer to smooth the surface, and it is perfect for me to start stamping textures into!
Now, one issue with changing to a different clay body is that my glazes may not look the same on the clay. Instead of doing extensive testing, I decided to make some one of a kind pieces and use this clay for a whole different way of firing: Raku. I have been wanting to do this for so long and I think it is finally the time. So I made the pieces above and am going to test them out soon (maybe tomorrow! Its supposed to be nice out!) I know I have been promising to Raku for a while, but this time I really mean it...
I love this long pendant! Must make more. Thanks again, Jan for the clay!