Easy to throw, hard to break. While earthenware clays like terra-cotta mature best in cooler temperatures, high-fire clays mature best in a hotter environment. High kiln temperatures allow the clay to fuse more completely so that the surface becomes hard and nonabsorbent. As a result, high-fire clay pieces are more durable and functional than pieces fired in mid- or low-temperature environments. High-fire clay includes both porcelain and stoneware clays, both of which are available at a range of price points, so make sure you know what you’re getting before you choose. Browse our roundup of the best options below.
1. Aurora Pottery Porcelain Clay
This domestically produced porcelain comes in blocks ranging from 5 to 50 pounds. It fires to an opaque, bright white, and takes well to a variety of glazes. This particular product is great to use even for making big pieces, as it retains its opacity.
2. Rocky Mountain Clay Pottery Clay
Another clay that comes in blocks ranging from 5 to 50 pounds, this mid- to high-fire clay is best for intermediate to advanced potters. Equally good for hand building and wheel throwing, this is the perfect clay for making small to medium pieces.
3. Activa Blackjack Clay
This nontoxic clay is a great option for the classroom. Ideal for beginning potters, this stoneware clay centers and pulls easily on the wheel. A high-quality natural clay, this product dries to a light tan color and takes well to most glazes; it can also be fired. The 25-pound block comes at a fraction of the price of similar products.
4. Aurora Pottery Best Mix with Sand Clay
This smooth clay comes in both a 10 and 25 pound block. A clay that’s smooth like porcelain and workable like stoneware, it fires to an off-white in some circumstances and a grayish white in others. Easy to throw and fire, this clay is formulated with 10 percent fine sand for added texture and body.
5. AMACO High-Fire Moist Nontoxic Stoneware
This high-fire stoneware clay is talc-free and nontoxic, and ideal for modeling, throwing, pressing, and slip painting. It fires to a soft gray at high temperatures and a light cream at lower ranges, and grog gives a little speckle to the finish. As an added bonus, this block comes in two 25-pound bags with a handy storage container to keep the clay moist and workable.