Clay

I use a variety of clays for my work, depending on the ware that I am producing. A red earthenware clay for low fired work, often covered with slip before the first firing; for stoneware either an off white clay or a speckled tan/buff clay depending on which best complements the glazes to be used - the tan/buff clay also working well when wood fired; and a porcelain paper clay for my leaf based forms.

In selecting the clays I use, I have done a lot of research and experimentation to compare those available: how much do they shrink when drying and being fired; how plastic and how stable are they when making pieces; what is their best firing range; how strong are they, and how porous, when fired; how smooth a finish; how does the clay interact with the glazes; and what colour is the finished clay. Although many clays have similar descriptions in the catalogues, there are often big differences when working with them. 

Making is a mixture of hand building or throwing. Hand building lets you escape from the symmetry imposed by the wheel, though it is generally slower - I don't use any plaster moulds or forms to simply drape rolled out clay over. 

For throwing, I use one of the original Leach treadle wheels - no electric motor, no noise, a much higher level of intimacy with the clay, and the metronomic rhythm of my left leg powering the wheel. It may not have the brute force and speed of an electric wheel to throw heavy weights of clay, you cannot throw very tall pieces as you need to be seated, and it requires a greater level of technical finesse, but I find it much more satisfying.