[Clayart] Best clay for outdoor sculpture

vpitelka at dtccom.net vpitelka at dtccom.net
Thu Jan 30 19:26:09 EST 2020

Hi Scary - 
Sorry, I can't remember who you are, and you didn't sign your post.  Val Cushing did definitive research on this and it is written up in his handbook.  An earthenware claybody will disintegrate in repeated hard freeze, but the surprising thing is that a high-fired very-low-absorption claybody will too, because moisture will penetrate over time, and then in a hard freeze it has no way to relieve the pressure of the expanding ice.  An appropriate claybody must have high mechanical strength to stand the pressure of freezing moisture, but enough porosity to allow the pressure to release.  The architectural terracotta ornamentation of the northern tier of the US is a refractory terracotta body fired to low-midrange, usually cone-2 or 3.  But It turns out that a modestly underfired highfire claybody is also ideal.  So, fire a cone-8-10 claybody to cone-5-6 and it should work great for outdoor use even in a location that experiences hard freezes.  
- Vince

Vince Pitelka
Professor Emeritus of Art/Ceramics
Appalachian Center for Craft
School of Art, Craft & Design
Tennessee Tech University
Now Residing Chapel Hill, NC
vpitelka at dtccom.net

-----Original Message-----
From: Clayart <clayart-bounces at lists.clayartworld.com> On Behalf Of Scary Potter
Sent: Thursday, January 30, 2020 12:54 PM
To: clayart at lists.clayartworld.com
Subject: [Clayart] Best clay for outdoor sculpture

Looking for suggestions from some of you fabulous experts - best Clay for cone 5-6 garden art?
What attributes should a clay body have for surviving outdoors?  More “open”, more grog, less something? Do you have a favorite recipe or commercially available body you love?
 I’ve only made small things with smooth clay but want to venture into larger garden sculptures this spring. 
I normally fire to cone 5 or 6. 

S.Cary -
Make something beautiful every day. 
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