August 17, 2023

Buying Clay Online

Purchasing clay online opens up convenient access to high-quality clays without relying on local availability. Follow these tips for online clay buying.

Choosing clay for your studio

The internet offers ceramics enthusiasts access to an exceptional variety of clays from leading brands and specialty suppliers. But shopping online also means you can’t see, touch, and test the clay before purchasing.

While buying clay online has advantages like expanded selection and home delivery, you need to make your purchase carefully based on online research and reviews. Follow these guidelines for smooth ordering and getting the ideal clay delivered to your studio.

Pick Reputable Clay Brands

With major clay manufacturers like Laguna, Standard, Axner, out there and a plethora of boutique and specialty suppliers, the online choices feel endless. This can induce decision paralysis.

To simplify matters, stick with well-established, popular clay brands with proven track records in the ceramics community. Ask fellow artists which manufactured clays they use and trust.

Top brands like Laguna, Standard, Old Hickory, and Continental offer a range of beginner clay to advanced bodies formulated for different applications like throwing or handbuilding. You really can’t go wrong with an industry leader.

Select Clay Type by Your Needs

Once you’ve settled on a brand, choosing a specific clay comes down to deciding what type of clay best suits your particular purposes. Think about:

  • The firing temperature you intend to use
  • Colors desired from the raw and fired clay
  • Amount of grog, sand, or grit temper preferred
  • Plasticity and workability required

If you need more clarification, call a supplier to discuss your needs. They can suggest appropriate clays from their selection that will serve your projects well.

Buy Sample Sizes First

When first trying a new-to-you clay brand, always order a smaller 1-5lb sample bag before purchasing larger 25lb quantities. This way you can test the clay before fully committing.

Even among the same brand, subtle variations exist between clay bodies. Make sure a particular clay throws, fires, and handles how you prefer before buying more.

Factor in Drying Time

Remember that ordering clay online means extra transit time for shipping, unlike buying locally. Don’t let your clay sit around drying out.

Time your purchase so the clay arrives just as you need it for upcoming projects. Or budget extra time for it to acclimate in your studio before using.

Compare Clay Prices

Online prices can vary between retailers for the exact same clay. Do some quick price comparisons and include shipping costs before ordering.

Buying directly from manufacturers like Laguna, Standard, etc, can offer cost savings over third party art vendors. But shops sometimes run sales and promotions.

Use Specialty Suppliers Cautiously

Beyond major brands, countless small-scale clay suppliers sell their own formulations online. These offer exciting uniqueness and customization.

However, consistency and quality control are more challenging to verify with boutique batches. Ask for recent test results and sample prior to purchasing untested specialty clay blends.

Maximize Your Clay Shipping

To optimize shipping on heavy clay products, try buying from retailers located closest to you geographically. Or look for free shipping promotions and thresholds.

If planning a large order, break it into multiple smaller orders just under the free shipping minimum to avoid overages.

Learn From Other Buyers

Read user reviews of specific clay products before purchasing. Look for any first-hand complaints about clays arriving too dry, cracking, inconsistent quality, etc.

Join ceramics groups to ask about others’ experiences with particular online clay sources. Research thoroughly.

Buying clay online can be easy and convenient with the right prep and research. Follow these tips and you’ll have high-quality clay delivered to your studio in no time!

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