why clay from Manitoulin Island is so special

why clay from Manitoulin Island is so special

Processing local clay has been part of my evolution In pottery.  and clay found on the island is very unique.  

Manitoulin Island is known for its unique geological features, being the largest freshwater island in the world. The clay found on the island is formed through the weathering and erosion of the island's limestone bedrock over millions of years, resulting in clay deposits with distinct mineral compositions.  The clay is typically contains a rich variety of minerals such as silica, alumina, iron, and other trace elements. All that contribute to the clay’s colour, texture, and suitability for pottery.

Manitoulin Island has a long history of Indigenous presence and culture. The clay found on the island has been traditionally used by Indigenous communities for pottery making and other artistic expressions, making it an important cultural and historical resource.

I value the clay for its unique qualities that enhance my creative ideas In making pots. The clay's colour, plasticity, firing characteristics, and other properties inspire me to create distinctive pots that are truly art.  The clay deposits have unique characteristics of the island's clay.  So promoting local craftsmanship cantered around the island's natural resources.  The special qualities of clay found on Manitoulin Island stem from its geological origins from region to region, its mineral composition adds artistic value from the where I got it from.  Manitoulin was once all under glaciers, slowly melted away over thousands or years, making it truly distinctive and special

First, the clay is collected from its natural deposit.  the organics matter, rocks and other impurities can and does enhance my pot.  I let it dry out so I can find and remove very large rocks. Weathering helps break down larger particles as well, it improve plasticity, and make the clay easier to work with.  I could screen the clay to remove any remaining impurities, rocks, or debris if I want a smooth and consistent texture in the final clay body.  Then as you seen In my video on instagram, the clay is mixed with water to create a slurry. 

I do add feldspar, nepheline syenite and talc to control the melting point or fusion of particles during firing for hardness and durability.  I add some silica and grog, which is crushed fired clay.  I also add some sand from my beach to increase strength, reduce shrink which in turns prevent cracking.  Bentonite also to improve its plasticity.  Then I put on to drying slabs until I can wedge it out.  I can roll some clay between my fingers to see the plasticity.  If it starts to break apart In my fingers, then I’ll add some carboxymethyl cellulose also know as gum. to improve the adhesion.  

Then test and test, usually thrown into the kiln while firing other pieces.

Other ways, I have been using this special Manitoulin clay, is I use it as a colourant.  Sometimes adding red iron oxide, or cobalt oxide or manganese dioxide.  I have a lot of colourants I can add.  I find that extra oxide interacts with the clays unique properties adding a little “je ne sais quoi” In the mix.  I always add carboxymethyl cellulose to my glazes to improve the adhesion.  

Why do I do all this work, which causes more pain than success?  Well when it does work out, I am over the moon.  The distinctiveness of clay here on Manitoulin shape my growth in making pots.  Each of my pots has a story.  When I see you, just ask…

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