[Clayart] Helmer clay

Michael Wendt via Clayart clayart at lists.clayartworld.com
Sat Feb 7 01:25:09 EST 2015

We used Helmer Clay at the University of Idaho when I was  student there in 
the early 70s. A P Green made the Yukon firebrick out of it (90% calcined to 
cone 28 plus 10% raw ) dry pressed in a massive press. When they closed, I 
took over production of the clay and it has steadily grown in use over the 
years. 2014 saw a near doubling of demand, so much so that I have run out of 
product in my dry shed and will need to haul more in as early as possible 
this year... my shed holds close to 300 tons.
The Alfred porcelain recipe can be made with Helmer in place of both the 
Kaolin and the ball clay. Thiel Kaolin tested Helmer for paper use and 
concluded it was far too plastic at 18% + drying shrinkage. They called it a 
ball clay but it is a bit coarser than ball clay and very low in lignin 
which is common in ball clays.
I still paln to continue clay production for the rest of my pottery career 
(I expect that will be at least another 300 years based upon how much Mt St 
Helen volcanic ash I now have on hand!)
Michael Wendt
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Douglas Fur via Clayart" <clayart at lists.clayartworld.com>
To: <clayart at lists.clayartworld.com>
Sent: Friday, January 30, 2015 4:23 PM
Subject: [Clayart] Helmer clay

> Clay Arters
> I just got a sample of Helmer clay from Michael Wendt (thank you).
> There had been a thread running last year about the decline of regional
> clay suppliers and how this impacts the character of the clays we use.
> Helmer is a sedimentary deposit, not like the primary china clays of
> Cornwall, but more like the clays of the eastern US. It was mined to make
> "Idaho" brand fire brick.
> Besides his wet and bagged clay products, Michael also sells this 10 mesh
> clay. Basically the clay as it comes out of the ground with the "stems and
> seeds" screened out. So if you're curious about a "natural" clay check it
> out. [In foody parlance this would be a "wild harvested" clay. A regional
> grocery chain has appropriated that term for their organic food line. I
> find it entertaining to imagine the source of their wild harvest milk.
> Given that the last wild cow was killed in Poland in 1627 it brings to 
> mind
> 17th c. milkmaids chasing aurochs through the woods. A pretty buff chick
> given that the aurochs was considered the most dangerous wild animal in
> Europe, dwarfing modern cattle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurochs]
> Seola creek
> *http://www.wendtpottery.com/helmer2.htm
> <http://www.wendtpottery.com/helmer2.htm>  Additional amounts now 
> available
> for $14.00 for 20 lbs of 10 mesh dry Helmer shipped anywhere in the 48
> states, Alaska or Hawaii.  *
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