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Friday, May 12, 2017

Granville Island Clay Glaze

Back in Oct of 2014 I was walking from our studio on Granville Island over to the market to grab a snack when I noticed diggers working in one of the parking lots.  It turned out they were putting in new lamp posts and needed to dig several feet down.  I went over to take a look and noticed chunks of  clay amongst the piles of shell and sand.  Granville Island used to be a sandbar that was used for fishing and harvesting shell fish.http://granvilleislandworks.com/about/history-of-granville-island
We already use a clay (slip) glaze made from clay we dug out in the Fleetwood area of Surrey so I've been on the lookout on G.I. for several years. Unfortunately, the maintenance crew never seemed to dig low enough to strike clay.
I took a little piece and worked it a bit in my hands as I walked to the shop where Don Hutchinson was working.  He spent much of his career sourcing and testing local materials all across Canada but mostly British Columbia so I figured he'd be a good person to consult.  We both determined it looked very promising so I went back and gathered a few bags of the cleanest pieces I could find over the next few days.
Doing small tests is the best method to proceed so over the last year and a bit we've been working to come up with a recipe that will give us a good melt and a surface free from crazing.  The hardest part has been screening out all the sticks, sand, rocks and shells.  Lot's of shells! We are very pleased with the results so far.  It has a satiny, soap stone like surface and fires from a blue gray to this more beige brown.  I look forward to seeing how and if it changes depending on location in the kiln, thickness and in it's proximity to other glazes.  We currently have a decent supply but I have friends in the maintenance dept. on the lookout for me if they ever stick in to anymore. 
Mug with G.I. clay glaze and a lip dip of ash glaze.  The ash glaze is made using apple wood ash from the Sand Bar Restaurant on Granville Island.
The pendant is the brown version of the G.I. clay.