So let me tell you a little about my owl crisis. I have been struggling with this for a couple of months now. See, my local clay supplier was out of my regular clay in March, and then the company was sold and moved and is slowly setting up to start producing clay again. I am very pleased that I will still be able to get the clay I have been using for about ten years and the new management has been really great in getting back to me and keeping me as informed as they can probably about the changes. Nevertheless, it has been very frustrating to be without my clay for the last two months. Not to mention that I am looking toward another month maybe until I can restock.
I was able to find a replacement clay from another company that feels and looks just like my old clay. It is a very close match in many ways. Most of my glazes look similar. But some glazes are way off. For example, above, you can see a happy owl in my old clay on the left. On the right is another owl, a little less happy, made the same way, fired to the same temperature with the same glazes. It's just not right. The leaf green bellied ones are worse, as both the brown and the green are reacting differently to the new clay.
Above, yet another test in a clay that is my brother's casting slip made into a solid clay and made into an owl. The color is much better, but there were running issues. This is likely because the clay was really hard for me to use and I couldn't get defined impressed lines like I get with my old clay. The clay felt like it wanted to keep reverting back to a liquid, if you can imagine that feeling.
As a way to try to get a better match for the old owls in my new clay, you can see the picture at the very top. I made some quick owl wings and applied a different brown to each one. Clearly, I have a lot of variations of brown! I take pride in my ability to produce consistent results for my catalog of beads... my business depends on it. It takes a long time and much experimenting for a ceramic artist to get a palette of glazes that are just right. When one element of the process changes, everything can be thrown for a loop.
Melanie is an artist, blogger, writer, and ceramic beadmaker at Earthenwood Studio. Her beads and components can be found at her Etsy shop and her jewelry can be found in her Etsy Galleria. To comment on this post, visit the original post at the Earthenwood Studio Chronicles Blog.