The ultimate illustrated guide for sourcing, processing and using wild clay.
Potters around the world are taking to the local landscape to dig their own wild clay, discover its unique properties, and apply it to their craft. This guide is the ideal starting point for anyone – from novices, improvers and experts to educators and students – who wants to forge a closer bond between their art and their surroundings.
Testing and trial and error are key to finding a material's best use, so the authors' tips, drawn from long experience in the US and Japan (but which can be applied to clays anywhere) provide an enviable head-start on this rewarding journey. A clay might be best suited to sculpture and tile bodies, throwing clay bodies, handbuilding and slab bodies, or simply be applied as a glaze or slip. The specific properties of found materials can create a diverse range of effects and surfaces, or, even when not fired, can be adapted for use as colorful pastels or pigments.
Beautiful illustrations and helpful technical descriptions explain the formation of various clays; how to locate, collect and assess them; how to test their properties of shrinkage, water absorption, texture and plasticity; the best ways to test-fire them; and how to adapt a clay's characteristics by blending appropriate materials. From prospecting in the field to holding your finished product, there is helpful advice through every stage, and a gallery of work by international potters who have embraced the clays found around them.
Matt Levy was raised in Flagstaff, Arizona, and educated in Wisconsin and Montana. He has a strong connection to the geology around him and the materials found within are a constant driving force in his practice. A Materialist at heart, Matt is motivated by what can be found in the soil beneath his feet and the rocks he finds in the landscape. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with his wife and child, sourcing local clay from Lake Superior and Mississippi River Basin.
Takuro Shibata is a Japanese native ceramic artist based in Seagrove, North Carolina, USA, and has studied Engineering in Applied Chemistry at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan. Later, his interest in ceramics led him to become an apprentice at a local pottery studio in Shigaraki, Japan. After visiting the USA with his wife in 2001, many opportunities came up to join ceramic art programs and in 2005, they both moved to the Seagrove area after he had accepted the position of director at STARworks Ceramics.
Takuro has developed a national reputation as a ceramic artist and wild clay specialist. His own ceramic work, knowledge of ceramic materials and background story have all been prominently featured in the media and shared in many exhibitions, workshops, publications and ceramic conferences both nationally and internationally. He is a member of the International Academy of Ceramics (IAC).
Hitomi Shibata is a Japanese native ceramic artist based in Seagrove, North Carolina, USA and has studied Fine Art & Craft at Okayama University in Japan. She lived and worked as a potter in Shigaraki, an old pottery village in Japan, until a Rotary International scholarship brought her to the USA to study ceramics at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. With her husband, she later moved to North Carolina to set up a permanent pottery studio and now build wood kilns together.
Hitomi has been artist-in-residence at Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park, Cub Creek Foundation for the Ceramic Arts, and North Carolina Pottery Center; organised workshops and lectured at Peters Valley School of Craft, Penland School of Crafts, and NCECA; won international ceramics competitions at Yingge Museum of Ceramics, Taiwan, and Yixing Teapot Competition, China; and is a member of the International Academy of Ceramics (IAC).
“This beautifully illustrated guide is the ideal starting point for those wanting to forge a closer bond between their art and their natural surroundings.” —Ceramics Now
“Finding your own clay-especially for use as a glaze material or to augment a commercial clay body-is increasingly popular and this book is a guide to finding, testing, and using wild clay.” —The Studio Manager
"A fascinating guide to finding your own clay and creating your own glazes. Billed as ideal starting point for novices, experts, and everyone in between, this is an excellent addition to the experienced ceramicist’s library, but also to those new to the art." - Book Riot