Working Magic With Black Clay

I enjoy working with clay bodies other than white (see my post The Color of Clay). In my work, mostly sculptural, glaze functions as an embellishment rather than the main attraction.  This comes from my aesthetic and my dislike of the glazing process!  I find the contrast between the glazed and the unglazed piece quite interesting, especially with a toasty or reddish clay.  Two years ago I started working with this black (actually a deep chocolate brown toned) clay body.

Clay gets its color from certain minerals and pigments.  Iron oxide is what makes terra cotta clay red.  In the case of black clay, the color is from burnt umber.  It is a pigment in short supply these days so a bag of clay will cost you a few dollars more.  Any highly-pigmented clay is messy to work with and this is like working with black mud. Wearing a good apron is key.  Regardless, the end result of this clay is worth it.

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