3. Marcellus Clay

Making the Marcellus Clay Body

The clay factory corner of the studio:

Here's the dirt. It's unusually sticky, as if tar were mixed with soil.

After sifting it through the screens, this is the non-clay stuff extracted:  Mostly wood chips and pebbles.

Here's the other part - the clay. You can see there's an oil slick floating on the water (the grey stuff in this image). I'm not sure if it came from the shale, or if it's the result of having collected the material off the side of a busy road. In this image, the clay has been sitting for part of a day.  It was dark, greenish brown when it was freshly sieved. After a few hours, as you can see here, the top surface starts to rust.  If it sits for a week, under water, the top surface of the clay turns into a crust.

 Every day, surface water is siphoned off. After 3-4 days, much of the liquid has been removed, and the clay is ready to dry on a plaster slab.

The middle sample is what the clay looks like. You can see the greenish-black color in this image. It seems heavier and more dense than other clay bodies.  The top and bottom pieces are from the first bisque firing test. 

After some experimentation, I decided that the slip in the bucket was a more easily workable material than the clay body, which would have required additives to improve its properties.  

I made a plaster mold of a large Styrofoam coffee cup. This would be the first thing produced in the clay.

Here are a few castings, removed from the mold. The casting is intentionally crude. The 'imperfect' moments show the clay's qualities   

Fired samples. The one on the right is bisque fired to cone 06. The one on the left has a slip/glaze (the gray) fired to cone 3.  The final piece shrank 25%. The original foam cup turns out to be the perfect protective container for its offspring.