A native clay is something of the past. I mean that in two ways: 1) A century ago, potters searched for deposits of material that came right out of the ground and was ready to mold into pottery. But that's pretty much a thing of the past in our country. Sure, it's still done in a few places, but it's rare that a potter is fortunate to find such an ideal lode. 2) Clay is tens of millions of years old. If ever there was a thing of the past, it's clay. Clay is broken-down rock. Clay is not dirt. Most potters I know (including myself) do not generally incorporate native clays into their repertoire. We buy our clay from companies that charge by the pound. They put it into neatly packed 25 lb. cubes wrapped in plastic bags, two bags to a box for a total of 50 lbs per box. You do get a price break if you order it by the ton. I order it by the ton. But I got lucky last week.
Last week, a guy who came into the gallery told me where some dark clay was. He gave me good directions. I checked it out last Friday (April 12th). He was right. I could not believe my eyes. I have found native clays in Lincoln County before, but never so pure and always that yellow-to-red colored clay. But this stuff was really, really dark, was really, really pure, and was really, REALLY sticky. And whereas the native clay my mentor, Jeff Procter put me onto went to make a nice glaze, this stuff felt like it might even work on the wheel. And boy-howdy, it worked great. Here are some pictures: