When choosing the best clays for pottery the artisans have many variables to consider. First and foremost is the clay itself, which comes in a variety of colors. Each type of clay will be different in its properties, durability, resistance to staining, and reaction to the firing process. Clay is a natural porous material so it's important to know what your goals are when choosing the best clays.
Before you even start to learn about the types of clays and their effects on your pottery projects you need to understand your clay. Your clay is the inside of your pottery. It's the one that is affected by the temperature, humidity, lighting, oxygen, and many other variables. Understanding the characteristics of your clay will help you decide the color and durability that you want.
Most potters agree that most clays are gray in color and are most commonly used for glazing and decorative purposes. In addition, most clays are not absorbent. Therefore, you should be careful with what you choose as an impasto or impastos can leave a yellow mark on your work while absorbing water. A good test to determine the type of clay you have is by placing a piece of clay on your hand and putting your fingers around it. If your fingers feel safe and do not feel plastic or metal, you most likely have river sand clays. These clays are absorbent but they do have some pull to them and some clays can become quite hard to work with, especially if you have less experience with this type of pottery.
You have the option of choosing the best clays for pottery depending on your budget and your goal for your pottery. Clay that is meant for decorative purposes is often called river sand. It is usually a bit softer than river rock and has a beautiful natural look to it. However, this type of clay can scratch very easily and is difficult to work with unless you use the right clays and tools. Because it is absorbent, most river rocks are not good clays for beginners.
The best clays for pottery are glazes made from mineral deposits along the edges and surface of river beds and foothills. This clay will often hold water and can help you get a smooth surface that will hold glaze very well. However, you may need to bring the clay out from under the elements every few weeks so that it will not dry out and crack. You will also have to clean up any spills or accidents from glazes that you accidentally spill on the surface of the clay.
The type of clay that you use for your pottery project will depend on your purpose. For example, a potter who is working to create a vessel that they will be able to display on a table will want something a little more durable than a person who is creating an item for their own home consumption. Most people choose to use a type of glaze known as vermiculite clays. These clays are extremely absorbent and because of this, they can be used to create items that look like porcelain when they are finished.
Vermiculite clays are not the best clay to use if you are going to be using a glaze in your pottery projects. This type of clay will shrink once it is heated, which means that you will end up with items that do not lay flat when they are completed. In addition, this type of clay may be harder to work with, which can make it difficult for beginners to create interesting designs with. However, there are vermiculite clays that are available for purchase that still have a nice, flat finish and this type of clay is the best one for most potteries.
One type of clay that is becoming increasingly popular among people who are interested in making pottery is a type of ceramic that is made from clay and copper metal. This material is called gunite. Copper and tin are often mixed together in order to create a type of clay that is stiffer and more durable than gunite. This material tends to be stiff enough to be used as a type of crafting medium but is still soft enough that it can be used in many different projects including working pottery.