My Visit to Industrial Minerals Company on 8/12/19

       IMCO has been my source for raw materials, from all over the continent, since 1981. They process raw minerals for all industries far and wide. They are one of the handful of suppliers for potters in Northern California, although we only make up a a small part of their overall business.

      They are located in Old Florin Town, in Sacramento, CA. Old Florin Town has been undergoing a renovation for the last decade or so, with an eye toward preserving the rich cultural history of the area. There are many treasures just around the corner from IMCO, both profound and quirky. These slideshows are an exploration of my favorites, as well as a guided tour of the IMCO facilities.

          These 3 old churches are just across the intersection from each other, around the corner from IMCO. They have endured a century of changing demographics. While neighboring historic buildings lay dormant, these old workhorses keep serving the population.

      Old Florin Town was known as "the strawberry capital of the world". Much of the agricultural land has been developed for industry, which at one time provided jobs for the expanding residential areas. As industry has fallen into decline, there has been more work in other parts of Sacramento. 

      New construction on Florin Road has been slow, so these few blocks still reflect the area's tenacious past. It seems especially fitting that I visit here for my monthly chunk of earth, exploring fresh ways to express myself.


    This is an exploration of the only collection of Ford Edsels I have ever seen. Ford manufactured them from 1958 through 1960. They were not a success, due to their odd styling, and possibly the clunky name. The car was a tribute to Edsel Ford, Henry Ford's son and only heir, who had died unexpectedly in 1943.

     I am intrigued by the dedication needed to amass such treasure. At a glance, it appears to me that they are not being parted out. I love the way the shadows play over the bold contours, varied textures and weathered surfaces. Old paint and rust, and an esthetic aspiring to beauty, but which never found a foothold. 


     I visit Industrial Minerals Company about once a month, for all of the raw materials I need to mix my porcelain and glaze recipes. As usual, I bought 4 types of clay (3 kaolins and a ball clay), 2 feldspars, quartz, grog, dolimite, and trace amounts of frits and colorants. 

      IMCO blends clay bodies for potters in the same way I do, but it is important to me that I can fine tune my recipes to evolve with my techniques. An IMCO technician once observed to me that one must perform constant trial-and-error, for the sake of quality control. I need to stay ahead of the inevitable sudden, naturally occuring changes in these materials.

      I don't know why it has taken me almost 40 years to ask for a guided tour of IMCO. I guess I just needed a productive place to use the photos. My friend Scott was happy to show me around. He has worked there for as long as I have been hauling all this stuff.

      Of course, I wanted to see the clay mixing equipment first. IMCO'S clay mixer blends in 2000 pound batches, whereas mine tops out at 150 pounds. A de-airing pugmill is said to produce an effect equivalent to 6 months of aging on the clay. Without either aging or pugging, a freshly blended clay body is pretty much unworkable. IMCO's machine is a brute, which exerts a vacuum pressure I can only envy.

        Most of the facility is dedicated to grinding and blending non-plastic materials (no clay content), especially slate, for various industrial applications. The vast network of chutes, drive belts, vacuum ducts, plumbing, hydraulics, electrical, and I don't know what all, make for great imaginative fodder.