The only time I don’t like being a vendor at Eastern Market is between 4am and 6am on Saturday mornings. Artisan Village is back, and The Delicion is an enthusiastic participant. The topple popple, who oversees all work done in my studio, supervised this weekend.
I love the sign that reads, “No grumpy people.” I love watching people carry out flowers I had never seen before. I love the produce and freshly baked bread that my husband collects while wandering. I love the little old ladies dressed to the nines. I love the musicians—good and bad! I love the insanity, like when the man we call Shower Cap Guy shouts about not having enough bubble gum. I love the shiny, well-maintained old cars parading about. I love the vehicles that have plywood parts, windows made by cutting a hole in the sheet metal, wheels that don’t move or have a bit too much of a wobble, or make a sound that probably should stop once the engine has been turned off. I love observing the politics of navigating the parking lot from the outside. I also like guessing which niche of Christianity will be proselytizing for the day. Yesterday, we got Harold Camping.
Some of the stuff I make feels a bit slutty; I’m gluing magnets to test tiles so that people can buy something inexpensive. Yep. That’s the biggest disadvantage to being a ceramist who sells at farmers markets.
I have been having issues with my clay recently. I have used Amaco’s white stoneware almost exclusively for a matter of years now. I did have a stint with Rovin’s low-grog stoneware, but it wasn’t low-enough-grog. Amaco sells this particular clay pugged and de-aired, in two 25-pound bags per box. That is, the clay is ready to use. I generally buy 100 to 150 pounds at a time quite regularly.
In January, I bought a batch that was completely deflocculated. It wasn’t clay. Working with it was like working with some kind of quicksand Jello. I hate blaming my tools, and so I was determined to make it work. So what if it won’t hold its form? So what if it doesn’t dry? HOW DOES CENTERING AND WEDGING CREATE AIR BUBBLES?!
I took it back and exchanged it for another batch. It’s clay, but it is still lacking flocculants. In order to get the clay workable, I added old dry clay. I cut the blocks in to little pieces and let the pieces dry a bit. I wedged and wedged and wedged and mixed and wedged. I was, essentially, using this new ready-to-use clay to reclaim and extend the old clay from failed pieces. I was grumpy.
My current experiment is borax. Anhydrous borax is a flocculent, and the laundry booster might just work. The small amount of clay I’ve tried it with has oxidized quite a bit, but I’m not convinced that’s it’s a good enough reason to stop doing it.
If you know anything about the Amaco white stoneware situation, I would love to hear it.
In the meantime, I’ll see you at the market!