Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Visit to Stancills

A few weeks ago, I went to visit Stancills Mine in Perryville, Maryland. Stancills has been family run since its inception several generations ago. They produce a wide variety of products based on the sand, gravel, clay and other materials mined there.

The high quality of their clays has attracted potters from all over the east coast. The family is very supportive of artists and has cultivated a relationship with their many visitors over the years. When I saw pictures of the red clay others had gathered there, I knew I had to visit.

We were given a tour and allowed to collect freely from many different piles of clay surrounding the mine. I grabbed anything that caught my attention. Reds, a green earth, and a fistful of nice looking yellow.

When I got home, I set out to see what I could make with my new samples. The unrefined nature of the clays meant I needed to sort them first if I wanted to get the purest color. After being fully washed, sieved and dried, I could compare them.

On left is a cool, violet red. On the right, a warmer orange. Everything else was somewhere in between. I decided to work with the middle range first.

I was impressed by the strong staining power of this clay, it left a mark on anything it touched.

Mixed into paint this clay makes a nice, deep red. I think this will be a valuable color for painting flesh tones.

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