Clay

Written By: Charles - May• 21•11

Beltane                                                                      Waning Last Frost Moon

“We can make our minds so like still water that beings  gather   about us that they may see, it may be, their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps  even with a fiercer life because of our quiet.” –W.B. Yeats

Surprises.  They come unexpectedly.  That’s no surprise.  I had one tonight.

Kate signed us up for a couples clay class at the Northern Clay Center.  It ran from 6:30-9:00 pm.  Matt, a BFA grad from the U, teaching during a gap year before graduate school, lead us clay novices.

( Kiln Prayer)

It was fun.  Maybe more than fun.  The clay had a vitality, a presence I hadn’t expected.  The pieces I made ranged from uh-oh to not too bad.  One, a tea bowl, had some promise.  Since they won’t be fired and ready for two weeks, it’s tough to say just what happened.  But I liked it.

Talking with Matt, who began discussing sodium trees versus calcium trees and how those differences affect the wood ash impact on ceramics, a realization began to dawn on me.  This is clay.  Clay.  It’s part of mother earth.  Part of her body.  Working with clay is not only like working with soil, it is working with soil.  Glazes can be totally organic, using plant and mineral materials available anywhere.  In fact, the properties of the clay differ from region to region.  So do the types and variteies of plant and mineral materials available to fire kilns and use in glazes.

Ceramics, in other words, is a sister activity to permaculture, bee keeping, flower gardening and native plant use.

Every once in a while I like to push myself outside my comfort zone.  Tai Chi and Latin are my current excursions.  I can’t see getting into clay until after our cruise in the fall, but I want to do it.  By that time the learning curve for both Latin and Tai Chi will be manageable.  After that, though, I can see taking a class or two, maybe more.

Manual dexterity is not my thing, at least it hasn’t been, but why not?  No practice as much as anything.  So, if I can learn basic techniques and practice.  Well…

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