What are ceramics made of? At Asobimasu, we choose to blend a mixture of clays together to make our own unique clay blends. We get different qualities from each clay type, whether it be elasticity, strength, colour or grit. The decision to blend three or more clay types together into a blend is not just aesthetic, it has a practical purpose too. If one of the three clay types is temporarily unavailable we can substitute it fairly easily without it affecting the overall look and feel of our pieces.
We have decided to reassess our clay blends. Over time the clay types that we have used in the past have either changed in composition and presented different characteristics or become unavailable or unreliable through supply chains.
The first thing we did was make a test tile of each clay by itself. Each tile gets rolled out using a rolling pin on cloth, cut to size using a cardboard template, and labelled with the supplier and clay name. These tiles pictured above have been fired to stoneware temperatures and represent the range of clay bodies we explore in our studio.
After making & firing the individual clay test tiles, we chose our favourites and wrote out combinations we'd like to test. The general formula we used was:
1 x structural clay (groggier, coarser)
1 x elastic clay (finer particle size)
1 x clay for colour or character (for a defining speckle, or deeper red tones)
Other considerations were:
- Price of each clay
- Whether the clay has had supply chains halted in the past.
- Choosing to support local manufacturers and locally sourced clay bodies
Pictured below: Samples exploring our three blend styles - light, red, and brown. These test tiles have been fired to stoneware temperatures.
Of these tests, we numbered each & chose our favourites for each category. Our picks are Light Blend #5, Red Blend #2 and Brown Blend #2. We chose these because we're happy with the colour, amount of grit, and overall feel of these blends. The next step is to order more of the clay and use the clay on the pottery wheel to throw some test forms. This will be the real test and show us if these new clay blends stand up to the task.
Written and explored by Georgia Stevenson, studio assistant, glaze tech & maker at Asobimasu.