Finding some clay

During the summer on one of my many paddling trips I found some clay. It was on the bank of the Red Deer River just a short distance upstream of Sundre, Alberta. It was smooth feeling, very plastic clay. I thought I would try to throw and fire it to see what I could get. I grabbed the bailing bucket and loaded it full of clay and took it with me.

Once home I plopped it on the wheel since it seemed to have little to no debris in it and I made a vase effortlessly. Any twig or pebble was removed or considered to add character to the clay. It is very nice clay to use. The next challenge was firing it in the kiln. I experimented with a higher temperatures upon each firing and eventually it failed. It was a catastrophic failure. The clay would crack with a load bang and break into pieces. So I learned, not so high a firing next time.

I tried a couple different glazes and some worked well and others made it crack again. It made me appreciate the store bought prepared clay. I chose a blue glaze to work with at first since I found it on the waters edge. I also had a few other glazes that I could test it with that would be a good matching.

Here are some of the pots I fired. The clay fired to a light reddish brown with small dark spots where foreign particles were. Pocks had formed where combustibles had been and were burned out leaving a space behind.

These first two pots didn’t fall apart but they do have some major cracks in them. Still they are an attractive muted color on a soft red clay background. There is evidence that the glaze doesn’t fit well where blisters seemed to have formed and broken off.

In the next two pictures I have used a different glaze that fired well at a lower temperature. It is attached better to the clay body. There are two different blue glazes as well as a crawling glaze visible. I think a combination of these 3 glazes will be how I finish off the remainder of that bucket of clay.