Logo1
Connecting you with the University of Missouri’s innovative research and creative activity

When Pottery Bolsters the Spirit

A visit with Bede Clarke, Professor of Art

By LuAnne Roth
Published: - Topics: art ceramics pottery teaching inspiration

Where to Get Good Clay

Topics: art ceramics

“There is great clay right here in Missouri,” says Clarke. In fact, some of the richest deposits are within forty miles of Columbia. But to prepare clay like this, “it is kind of like baking,” he explains, in that you must add a variety of different ingredients—in this case, clays, colorants, and fluxes—to create a clay body. Depending on the ingredients, the clay can be given desired characteristics, for instance filler material like sand or grog can be added to give the clay “tooth and strength.” These materials are combined in different ratios, depending upon how the artist wants the clay to behave: “If you are building a large-scale, thick sculpture, you would choose a very different clay from that used to make very delicate translucent porcelain. An understanding of clay is pretty fundamental."