Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mixin' the Red Clay

I spent the day preparing what I hope will be enough Ivey Red clay
to get me through a winter of earthenware experimentation.

Looks like "weed the clay pile" needs a higher spot on my to-do list...

My system is low-tech.
I mix shovelfuls of clay with water in garbage can and let the mixture sit for about 20 minutes. Another quick mix, then through my homemade hardware cloth sieve
(don't want to find worms or limestone chunks or plants in my pots--at this point, anyway!)
and out to dry in our chicken wire/scrap wood drying racks.
This took me all day. And it got hot.

But my mind tumbled with every scoop.
The rich colors of my clay tests have me excited to see what will happen this firing.
Although I like our stoneware clay and glazes,
I have a fuzzy vision of what I really want my pots to be.
Maybe more of a feeling than a vision.

Gershwin meets Gillian Welsh.
The Fields meet the Sky in the Snow.
Arm Candy meets Glasses and a Russian Novel.

And I got a tiny, quiet glimpse of that with my clay tests. Very tiny. Very quiet.
I could hum the melody but don't have the words yet.
And that's a lot to expect from a pile of clay!

Joe just said it looked like I was making a giant batch of tomato soup.

Because I want this lightly-processed clay for winter
experimentation, I will dry it thoroughly and store it in empty feed sacks,
waiting 'til the snow falls
and I don't feel pressure to make stoneware to keep our gallery full.

Those of you in the pottery blogging community know there has been some recent controversy/discussion about who should blog and what they should blog about.
Joe and I, as potters who value both functional work rooted in folk art traditions
the "collective yippie" of sharing the joys and disappointments
of the pottery creation process with friends,
have some thoughts on that topic that we'll save for a later post.
In the meantime, though, I think it's time for a glass of wine and a load of laundry.



FetishGhost said...

After a week of much more writing and thinking than usual brought about by Don's post over at Sawdust&Dirt. I'm happy just to get back to work after all this thinking.
I'm envious of your supply chain though, just as long as there's a pug-mill at the end.
I'm getting old quick.

Joe and Christy said...

unfortunately, our pug mill is on loan and designated for stoneware.
we haven't had it long enough for me to get totally spoiled yet, either, so getting to know my earthenware tests via wedging hasn't been too bad yet!


cookingwithgas said...

I am pretty corny when it comes down to it- but I love seeing and reading about your life.
Looks to me like a pretty darn good life.
Great post!

Michael Mahan said...

Now that's what blogging is all about!

Sue Pariseau Pottery said...

You can always tell a good days work, but the laundry pile left in it's wake. I look forward to seeing your earthenware tests. I think the entire pottery community has been doing last of thinking about blogs lately, and I say "live and let live". Some people like to read about real lives, works in progress and obstacles overcome while others don't. Follow what you like, don't follow what you don't and avoid judgements of either.

Thanks for sharing your process.