PPP: Influences on Clay Color
November 29, 2002
When observing a fired piece of clay, whether it’s a functional pot or a ceramic sculpture, we inevitably notice its color. This very simple observation can have a far more complex starting point—the clay body formula. A clay body can be composed of just one clay or any ratio of clays, feldspar, flint, talc and grog (a calcined, inert refractory particle of varying sizes contributing “tooth” [texture], low shrinkage and reduced warping to a clay body). As with glaze colors that provide different aesthetic qualities to the ceramic form, the clay body color also affects the appearance of the finished ware. Ever since the first “primitive” pottery was fashioned before recorded time, potters have always considered the color of the clay once it emerged from the kiln. Archaeological findings from the earliest known pottery indicate that the pots were not glazed, which reflected an even greater reliance on the color of the clay. Several factors can contribute to the fired or final color of a clay body.