The Bottom Line
- Mica is very interesting and unusual, giving a sparkely effect.
- Orange clay body is a nice color and fires well.
- Can add added interest to pit-fired and smoked forms.
- It is not the easiest clay to throw.
- Burnishing was disappointing. May require a lot of experimentation for best results.
- Sparkle lost when covered by even thin coats of glaze.
- Orange-colored clay body containing a fairly high percentage of mica. Mica particles are reflective and sparkle.
- Fires to maturity between cone 06 and cone 2. Fired color (oxidation) is somewhat lighter orange than the wet clay.
- Although it is throwable, it is a rough clay. Best suited for hand building or experienced throwers.
Guide Review - Review of Coyote's Orange Mica #5 Clay
Micaceous clays are fascinating in that they are unusual and have a bit of mystique around them. In North America, micaceous (mica-bearing) clays were used to create pottery as far back as 1300 AD. The micaceous pottery of Native Americans in northern New Mexico has been rumored to have been mistaken for gold by the Conquistadors.
I was very excited to see that Coyote Clay and Color have a micaceous clay body. Seeing the clay in person was even more exciting. But the proof is in the working and firing. I put it through its paces... hand building several pieces and throwing a bunch more.
Orange Mica #5 is a nice clay to hand build with, but I found it a bit coarser than I personally like. It was also throwable, but hard on my hands. I ended up with bloody knuckles and "potter's burn" on the sides of my fingers. Again, take into account that I do not normally throw with grogged clays so do not have those calluses built up.
Straight burnishing of the ware was disappointing. It did not result in the buttery soft surface I associate with burnishing. On the other hand, applying wax to the fired pot and polishing again did give a nice sheen and feel to the piece that also allowed the mica-sparkles to still be at their best. Coats of clear glaze allow the mica flecks to be seen, but the sparkle effect is greatly dimmed. Even the thinnest coats of colored glaze hide the mica's effect.
I am not able to do pit firing, raku, or smoking at present, but my past experience leads me to believe that this clay would do very well with those techniques. Horse hair techniques would also probably work very well, possibly with areas coated with white slip to add contrast.
Because this clay's main interest lies in the mica and its effects, this clay will work best for pots with large, simple surface areas. Too many intricate details and cluttered embellishments will distract from and potentially destroy the effect of the mica.