Many of my clay ideas snowball from one concept or form to another as I am working, and they build off of each other. My idea for the marbled clay collection originated spontaneously in my brain. This can be a little more of a foray into the dark because it’s harder to predict pitfalls and obstacles that may occur when starting with a pristine vision in the mind’s eye.
I wanted to create an object that had a level of nostalgia but also felt contemporary. At conception the marbled collection was intended to be bright & summery- like the vacation vibes of a landscape from a moving vehicle. My family always traveled by car growing up because there were so many of us (I have 3 brothers and one sister- a family of 7 is the maximum capacity for a volvo station wagon!). We would go to Chincoteague, an island off the coast of Virginia. More often we would take the 8 hr trip to rural northern Canada full of vast stretches of vibrant green fields- to visit the family homestead.
I had seen friends from my old studio marble clay, it really didn’t look that complicated (first mistake!). Full of optimism and excitement of trying a new technique- I started to think about how to make this collection.
I knew I I wanted the forms to be marbled with colored clays- so the first step was to pigment porcelain. The easiest way to do this is to add a coloring agent (stains) to a liquified porcelain- called slip.
I made a pink, blue and green clay. After creating blocks of colored clays, I layered slabs of clay to marble together- I decided on a warm speckled tan clay, with white porcelain and the colored clay running throughout.
Throwing with marbled clay was def more challenging than a normal clay body which is uniform. To keep the marbled look, I had to throw the pieces in as few steps as possible. The push and pull between the super soft porcelain clay and the grittier tan stoneware meant being more intentional with the process- so as not to throw these pieces off center. BUT revealing the marbling with a metal rib at the end of throwing was SO SATISFYING!
At this point in the process, things were moving along smoothly. I did anticipate some potential cracking, since I was marrying clays of different consistencies- so I gave the thrown pieces extra time to dry, covering them with plastic to slow everything down, fairly confident that they would come together.
And this is where I started to gain some respect for the marbling community! Haha! There was cracking. It was not a perfect union. Most of the pieces made it out- BUT I spent a lot of time repairing cracks… micro-cracks, spiral cracks, and cracks that had no rhyme or reason. The grand canyon cracks went back in the reclaim bucket. I fixed cracks at the pre-fired stages, and also before the glaze. Take Away: If nothing else, ceramics will teach you to be humble!
But one must carry on! After a couple rounds of glaze testing, I settled on three color ways-
-Honey glaze with Turquoise- like a Cali beach.
-Atlantic Blue spray with a Dreamsicle Orange - reminicent of a sunset. (CURRENTLY ON SALE UNTIL JUNE 16 FOR FATHERS DAY).
- Sage Green that reminds me of fields that stretch endlessly into the horizon.
Opening the kiln to see the results of these pieces was so gratifying. I love the layering of vibrant glazes with the nuances of the striated clay. Even post glaze I had pieces that were unsellable- certain glazes I used did not fit to the clay body well, and I had to go back and readjust.
Honestly- I do not think I will continue to marble this type of clay together. As beautiful as I find it, the win to loss ratio was high- I def lost at least 25% of the work I made throughout the process.
But as a take away, I am happy with the pieces that made it through the process, and I learned a lot. Now - onto the next adventure!
Shop the marble collection while it’s available here - Father’s Day Sale on anything Orange wares until Friday June 16!