I've seen polymer clay books and wondered if I can use regular clay to get the same effects. I want to keep my work everyday usable.
Yes, you can color your clay and design patterns in much the same way as you do with polymer clay. The best results are obtained when using white clays that fire to about Cone 5 - 6. The Skinner Color blending technique translates to real clay very well. Patterns made with real clay can be enlarged easily, but you wont be able to make them smaller the way you can polymer patterns.
How do you decide which stains to use? Can we only use body stains?
I use Mason stains primarily, but use Cerdec/Degussa inclusion stains for reds and bright orange. Mason has a great website with a number coded guide to help you choose the right stains for your firing and glazing needs. Under you need 30 pounds of any color, you cannot order directly. You have to go through a clay materials supplier.
Mason has a list of colors guaranteed to work as body stains but many other colors will work well. I recommend getting a small sample and trying it with your clay. Some clays contain trace elements that will affect color outcome so try a little first before you buy a lot. Your clear glaze will also change the colors and stability of some stains so be sure to glaze half your sample too.
Do you always have to mix colors thoroughly?
No. You can mix them in many ways and get great results.
Mixing them in wet or dry you can stop at any point to achieve swirls of color or small specks of color through the clay. You can thoroughly mix the colors then gently knead it into white, stopping when you like the pattern.
LOVE THE BRIGHT COLORS!
Many times people ask me why I pay a higher price for Southern Ice Porcelain. Here is the reason ... same % of stain added to both clay bodies ... Southern Ice is on the right in both images.
I've just colored 500 pounds of clay !!