I am not sure if this is just me or it happens to every other craftsperson, but it seems like there is always an unending parade of obstacles to getting work done. The obvious ones are where you run other of clay, glazes, slips, colorants, materials or what have you and then there are the totally unexpected situations that really make me want to just scream but being as I work all alone, if I scream in my studio does anyone really hear it? I recently ran out of ball clay that I use to make up my white, bright, very white slip and immediately noticed that it had a yellowish tinge to it, first alarm. Mind you, I have a 50 lb. bag of what looks more like xx sagger clay than ball clay so having been burned in the past I make up 50 gram test and precede to slip a small terra cotta test tile. I dry it fast and then bisque and glaze fire it and it comes out looking a bit more like mustard than the white I am accustomed to.
My next step was to contact Laguna Clay where the ball clay originated and both the Los Angeles and Ohio people were very helpful and sent me a free sample to test against what I had, the little amount of original control group that I still was using and the "new stuff" that was sent. I have a bisque to run tomorrow and then will glaze fire sometime early next week to get my results realizing that I need my white slip to be as white as white can be. In the interim I made up a large group of slip tests using varying amounts of whiteners and have a back up to my original slip formula if need be but at four times the cost. I am hoping that after nearly 25 years of using the material and formula this is nothing but a momentary bump in the road, fingers crossed.