MAKING NATIVE AMERICAN POTTERY

 

LOCATING A SOURCE OF CLAY

 

diging clay digging clay2

 

  1. Good deposits of clay usually occur along a stream or river bank. Find a source where the clay is pure and without inclusions or other debris such as grit or sand. Very clean, fine-grained clay has been used by Cherokee potters for pipe making and is sometimes called “pipe clay” while a coarse clay that is light gray, sometimes called “blue clay” or “pot clay” is used for pottery. This clay is coarse because it has a naturally occurring sand grain in it that works well as a tempering agent. The pure clay was found along stream beds while the more coarse clay is often found at slightly higher elevations. Today, road cuts are often a source for good clay
  2. Test the clay to see that it is good quality. Dry clay will shine a little when rubbed with a smooth object.  Wet clay is sticky and easily molded into shaps.  Dig out several pounds of clay to take back to your work area for testing to insure that it is of sufficient quality to manufacture satisfactory pottery. This was often a family event among Native Americans. Digging sticks or hoes were used to extract large amounts of clay. The clay was packed in sacks or baskets and transported home for future use.
  3. If you do not have access to a clay pit, which were sometimes difficult to find and were often kept secret in ancient times. an excellent quality of clay can be purchased from a local clay company for this same process.
  4. To purchase clay from the Stone Mountain Clay & Glaze Company, click on this link: http://www.stonemountainclay.com/Clays.html. You will want to call (770) 986-9011 and ask for Kaku #251 clay.  The clay ships in a 25 pound bag at a cost of $13.25 plus shipping.