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Stoneware Pottery

The making of stoneware pottery seems to be a growing coffee mugs personalized clay artists activity in the north, perhaps as many makers marks as a hundred Alaskans are spending considerable time at it. Some use imported dinnerware, but many dig their own made at Healy, Alaska, Canada, Colorado, Minnesota or other crock localities.

Plasticity is the essential feature of clay that makes pottery production possible. It derives from the plate-like shape of clay particles, very thin but elongated in two dimensions. This shape gives extensive surface area for adsorbing of thin layers of water molecules which bond together the clay particles but allow them to slip past each other when clay is thrown on a potter's wheel or otherwise fabricated into particular shapes. Very tiny, of the order of one-thousandth of a millimeter in length, clay particles result from weathering, grinding up and disintegration of rock materials. Two general types of clays exist: primary clays are those formed in place, and secondary clays are those transported by water and later laid down in beds. The secondary clays usually have greater plasticity than the primary clays. The clay layers intermixed with the Healy coal beds are highly plastic secondary clays.

The chemical composition of clay is similar to the average composition of rocks found at the earth's surface. Silicon, aluminum and iron oxides make up more than 80% of this average composition. A general formula for clay, considering it to be a mineral, is Al2 O3. 2SiO2. 2H2O. Here the water contained is actually within the clay particles, other water molecules adsorb to the particle surfaces when clay is wetted. Clay takes up so much adsorbed water that when it is plastic enough to shape, it will be about one- fourth water. But all that added water only increases the volume by about 5%.
My wife Michele is a funtional potter, now dabbling in sculpture, who also uses the kick wheel for just the reasons you provide on your site.

Man, our cupboards are filled with her stuff and others. She took me to Japan a couple year ago to Hamada's hometown where we visited his studio and kiln. We went to see other potters' studios as well. Saw lots of Leach's stuff, too. 

She wont let my have any manufactured pieces in the cupboards. But that's okay. I've learned to love it all and really appreciate the philosophy behind the "unknown craftsman" movement. 

She's even got me roped into helping at a craft fair this summer. She thinks if I sit around and plunk on the guitar, it may attract folks. Could scare them off, I suppose. 

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