Monday, 4 May 2015

Bond Street London Clay Pieces

Last summer returning to London from Corunha I met while waiting as my flight was overbooked, two nice lads. As we were chatting they told me that they were working on the new Tube extensions on Bond street. They told me there were lots of clay, among other things... They also had very interesting and informative stories, from the places they have been working on. We decided to keep in touch and they offered to get a couple of bags of clay for me to sample. The clay comes from something like 35 meters below ground. This Bond street clay had a different touch and texture than the samples from my two previous experiences, Camberwell and Stoke Newington. The colour is a dark greenish ochre, it has a very earthy texture, no stones, gravel, impurities to be noticed by eye or hand. The clay seems dry but I would say is not, like it is retaining some water and never dries totally, not even now, 5 months later. It does not absorb water well nor does it dissolute as other clays, crumbles of clay kept together separated from the other clay. As I wanted to use the clay immediately I decided to mix it with other clays, to be sure of its workability. On itself is like is somehow water resistant, the crumbles may resemble grog, but they are not fired and they do not have the same texture. In any case, after wedging, most of it got finally mixed and its workability was good. In the mix, I added almost a third of an smooth red earthenware and another third from a stoneware body. I wanted this mix to be able to stand to be fired to 1140 degrees Celsius. The first batch of pots was produced exactly prior to Christmas. I had in mind some specific pieces and some specific engobes to use that require a firing of 1140 degrees Celsius. This was the reason for mixing the London clay with other clays. My previous experiences showed me that in any case, workability, drying, and firing results would improve considerably with the addition of some help from commercially prepared clays. The first items done with this new mix containing Bond street Clay: I have drawings from last summer, some are from my mum's bonsai looking like it is trying to escape from its pot, in another one, it is looking like bathing. These two creatures are influenced by those drawings. They are quite charming.