Sparklies

I was so disappointed that when I left New Mexico I hadn’t found any micaceous clay to bring back with me. I wanted to experiment with it and see what I could make it do in my electric kilns. Unfortunately no one on the reservations would sell it to me; and since I left on a Labor Day Monday, by the time we got back to Santa Fe and Albuquerque where the clay is commercially sold, everything was closed.

My dear sweet mommy and daddy didn’t forget, however, and a few weeks later I received a surprise gift in the mail… a bag of micaceous clay and 1lb of mica powder from the Santa Fe Clay Company. I’ve been in seventh heaven experimenting to my heart’s content.

I have to admit that it’s been more frustrating at times than rewarding. This is definitely not a clay for wheel throwing; the excessive mica in it precludes any cohesiveness the clay might have on its own. If regular throwing clay is like working with cream cheese (in that you can squish it and mold it and it all stays together), working with this clay is a little bit like working with a pile of slightly damp sugar. Extremely difficult to make anything at all on the wheel with it, much less something with a wide rim that doesn’t crack apart under its own weight.

The high-fire testers were disappointing too; the mica melts out, and the clay becomes a boring brown color, neither exciting nor sparkly. Bisque fired, though, it is a gorgeous clay, a warm yellowy terra cotta with a real shine to it. I’ve been practicing my new “loose” throwing techniques on it, leaving throw marks in the center and altering the rim to achieve a much more fluid piece. I’ve altered the color with applications of iron oxide of different densities, as well. I really like the result.

This particular platter features the outlines of three real aspen leaves gathered in the forests of New Mexico, further contributing to its theme. My friend Ann Clough wrapped, twisted, and hammered two gold-filled wires of different hues around the foot on the back, so it is ready to hang.

I can’t wait till Josh gets back and can take some real pictures of these pieces.

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