Why I make my own clay
Updated: Sep 16, 2021
One extra time consuming step to what I do is make my own clay from scratch. Many ceramic artists buy premade clay from their local clay store or even have it shipped hundreds of miles on freight trucks to their studios. Why get premade clay? Time saving and convenience are the main advantages. So why would someone invest money in an expensive machine, purchase raw ingredients and spend hours of time over a machine in extreme temperature conditions to make their clay from scratch? Of course it is a money saver. Clay is sold by weight so if you are purchasing it premade part of the weight is water so only buying your dry ingredients in bulk is cost effective. The down side to that is that what you are saving in money you are spending on time, which is essentially money.
The main reason I make my own clay is control. One very important misconception about clay and glaze is that the glaze makes the clay water tight (meaning water can not get into the clay body). This is just not the case, tiny glaze faults in the glaze like crazing (small cracks in the clay) can let water into your clay body and if the clay body is not vitrified (glass-like) then it will absorb water. Have you ever put a cup that was labled as microwave safe into the microwave and almost burnt your hand on the handle? The glaze might look great but the handle got hot because the clay itself was still porous so when you washed it water got in the clay body and heated up in the microwave. By making my own clay I make sure it is vitrified at the temperature I fire to. Another reason I make my own clay is my glazes like it. I tried many premade clays in the past hoping to save myself some time but the glaze just didn't look the same and on some clay bodies it just popped off the pot! Making your own clay allows adjustments too, if something isn't working the same you can experiment and make your clay better. You can alter the color, strength or firing temperature of your clay, it is all in your control.
If I had a choice, if a store or manufacturer made the perfect clay for my sinks, heck yeah, I would go buy it! The cost in time would more then make up for the extra money spent on materials but I guess for now making clay is one more step that I do to make my sinks one of a kind