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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Earth, Fire and Water"

I found this quote on a pottery blog: "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, "Earth, Fire and Water" from The Celtic Twilight.

I started throwing on my new wheel yesterday. I'd dug the clay some years ago and had done some prep work on it. It felt workable but as I tried to centre it I felt that it had lots of sand in it. The amount of water I needed to keep it moving dissolved the body. I had developed a technique for removing the outer layers of skin from my palms. I've put the clay aside for more contemplation.

Old brickmakers used to fire a test load of bricks probably in a clamp kiln and only when they'd cooled would know whether they'd "answered". Experience would tell them whether a clay was likely to answer but there was always uncertainty.

I think I'm asking this clay the wrong question.

2 comments:

merc said...

You are making clay recordings...

Fresh Local said...

Straight away I think of audio recording techniques and the phrase "cutting a disc".

And the potter/archaeologist Graham Taylor's description "When I handle an ancient pot it’s a little like shaking hands with the original potter; a handshake across thousands of years. I can feel the impressions made by their thumbs, the pressure of their fingers pushing the wet clay into the palm of the hand to swell out the belly of the pot, the sweep of a tool to decorate the surface. All of these movements are like frozen, or possibly more correctly, fired moments in time, preserved and waiting for me to decode."