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Material Mines

Unless you use local materials, the clay and glaze materials in your studio have probably traveled from far and wide. We probably all have materials that come from every continent except Antarctica. What’s in your studio?

Most of our materials are primarily mined for industrial use, including the paper, manufacturing, and construction industries, which can be seen as a limiting factor as well as a benefit. Part of the reason we even have access to these materials is the fact that these larger industries need them in huge volumes, making the mining operations profitable. On the flip side, we sometimes lose access to a material when its no longer reliable or available in quantities that would be useful to larger industries.

Knowing where our materials come from is interesting from a geological perspective, and a practical use perspective, as the raw materials at different mines have varying compositions and characteristics that can greatly affect the work we make. It can also be useful for determining your studio carbon footprint. The maps below and on the next two pages, while not comprehensive, show many of the larger mine sites relevant to our field that we have been able to verify despite being really small players in the mining world.  

This article was excerpted from the February 2012 issue of Ceramics Monthly, which can be viewed here.

Material Mines


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