Cone Six Throwdown: Standard Clay's #213
For installment two of my cone six throwdown, I tried another very popular Cone 6 white clay, Standard Ceramics’s#213 Porcelain Clay. On their website, they describe it as “A white body formulated for cone 6 firing. Plastic, throwable clay.” Well, to me that’s just not enough information. On the wonderful Kentucky Mudworks Catalog, they describe it as “A delightfully plastic clay. Crisp, white clay formulated for cone 6. Performs well when thrown thinly. My cone 6 white clay of choice for throwing. Quite soft out of the bag.” That is a little more helpful! Here’s my review of how it fared in my experience.
I opened the bag and grabbed a hunk of it out. Immediately, I felt at home. This clay feels remarkably similar to the clay body I have been mixing and fine-tuning to my needs over the last couple of years, only it’s been filter-pressed and pugged! Grey in color, there is a graininess to it. It is loaded with Flint and Feldspar, most likely 55-60% non plastics, I know this from all of the tests I have done and the thousands of pounds of clay like this that has run through my fingers. Contrary to the Mudworks claim, it came out of the bag just a bit on the hard side, just how I like it. There is a definite odor to this bag. A musty river-bed sort of funk. I love when clay smells like the air right after a thunderstorm, no such luck here. There is a nice range of particle sizes, from the large 200 mesh flint and feldspar to a healthy dose of ball clay(evident by the grey color and small black specks) and I’m guessing they needed some Bentonite in there in order to make it plastic enough for use. I know I always need at least 2% in clay bodies like this. Generally, it has the feel of a very fine grained sandy mass held together with just enough Kaolin, Ball Clay, and Bentonite to make it plastic.
On the wheel, just as I suspected, I have a very easy time throwing a perfect bowl. As I center, the clay requires regular doses of more water for lubrication. I can feel the little particles whizzing past my fingers. A lot more texture than the Little Loafer’s I tried earlier. To be clear, it is not like grog or grit, it’s just a little grainy but still appears smooth. I have no problems opening and pulling. It feels responsive to my touch, but as soon as I let go of it, it is completely static. It could be that this clay is so in line with what I have been using that it feels so right, but it does. It goes where I put it, and stays there. As I start to lay down the wall to make the bowl shape, it gladly obliges. It doesn’t stretch willingly though. I need to coax it into shape with a number of passes, making it look oval from above. When I finally did push it out too wide, it gladly collared back in and stayed there. The bowl was just fine when I picked it up off the wheel and transfered it to the table. As I have said before, a valuable property in bowl throwing.
Now, on to the tumbler test. I like to throw my tumblers as thin as possible for a nice light heft and balance. It thins out gradually, taking 4 pulls to get it where I want it. I take another 3 shaping pulls. My shaping pulls involve the two index fingers pointing at each other, and a very slow hand rise coupled with a faster RPM. This gets rid of the throwing lines, shapes it effectively, and replaces them with these minute little trails of slip that most people think are sponge-trails. The extreme amount of tooth that this clay has allows it to take my abuse while very thin, and stays right where I put it. I was able to make a nice elegant tumbler form in the first attempt. Man, I hope this one performs through the rest of the tests this well!
Overall, I would say that throwing with this clay was pure delight. I would not classify it as plastic so much as I would toothy. truthfully, It has both qualities in a nice balance. It stretches, collars, is resistant to going too thin, and has no slumpiness about it. My reservations are that it could become brittle in the cutting phase of my process, and also, I have heard that it fires to an off-white cream color and has a tendency to dull transparent colored glazes, which would be a complete deal-killer for me. We shall see as I run it through the rest of my tests.