A to Z: Clay


1. a : an earthy material that is plastic when moist but hard when fired, that is composed mainly of fine particles of hydrous aluminum silicates and other minerals, and that is used for brick, tile, and pottery; specifically : soil composed chiefly of this material having particles less than a specified sizeb : earthmud
a : a substance that resembles clay in plasticity and is used for modeling b : the human body as distinguished from the spirit c : fundamental nature or character 
Its no secret that i love clay. In 2nd grade I made a clay squirrel, sitting up looking perky. I was proud; Mrs Foster the ancient art teacher said something negative to crush me. She was one of those teachers, striving to squelch all creativity with rules and insults. She even tried in vain to make me color in tiny neat circles. Others did and were praised. I did not. 
Al2O3 2SiO2 2H2O. Although I had to memorize that in college – the chemical formula for clay – I had to look it up today. Alumina. Silica. Oxygen. Water. Magic. 
In hindsight I wish I had taken more than one semester of Ceramics in college. There were many incredibly powerful insights learned that semester. Regis Brodie, my instructor, is a gifted teacher, artist, and inspired man. I had my first primal elemental Raku experience. I was introduced to “Form follows Function” – and also ” When life hands you lemons… make lemonade.” I was introduced to the wheel – we didnt fall in love. But coils are a near omnipotent method of construction… And after a semester I returned to oils and metals – leaving Earth behind for a while…
I took some snapshots around the studio this week. Clay in its myriad incarnations…
kids stuff 1 Orangutan and panda hanging out. ( From my students, as are the pots below.) 
plethora of pots
Vinita on the wheel Vinita – throwing. 
shrine tiles My new shrine tiles awaiting interior elements…
shrine bisque A shrine of mine. Celadon? Yangahara? Ohata? Cant decide on glazes… It will have text on copper at the bottom where the holes are. 
Frank's dragon Gazing down from the top shelf…

glaze shelf Pieces waiting to be fired. Their dusty exteriors divulge no secrets. They will emerge transformed. 
I love the transformation of clay. It begins so malleable, plastic, flexible. It can be molded and modeled, sculpted and shaped. It stiffens – carving, attaching… After firing – well I like this quote – “If clay is heated to a sufficiently high temperature as in a pottery kiln, it is chemically transformed into a new substance. The principle difference between this new substance and the original clay is that the water portion of the clay molecules have been driven off leaving a compound of Silica and Alumina. This new substance is monolithic; the individual particles are fused and will longer dissociate into a plastic mud when wet.”
Monolithic. I like that. To me clay is all the elements in harmony. Of the Earth and water, tempered by air and fire, imbued with the spirit of the creator. A harmonious balance. Off to the studio…


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