Forays With Wild Clay

Left to Right | Wild Clay vessel with pigment and earth sealed with milk glaze and fired in the fireplace, Wild Clay vessel with pigments and earth fired in fireplace, Wild Clay vessel with pigments and earth awaiting it’s time in the embers.

I have begun to experiment with some 11,700 year old wild clay that I sustainably harvested along the banks of the shallows of the Hudson River. Crusted with slip, iron oxide pigments and Earth from Schoharie NY – they were first fired in my fireplace transforming their structure and color. To seal and protect them from the elements, they were then sealed with a thin coating of Cow’s milk and heated on high in the oven – the colors deepening as it warmed, the house smelling of caramel sweetness.

This wild clay is a bit tricky to work with – as you wet it to shape it, it wishes to slip between your fingers, becoming more fluid, defiantly refusing to maintain it’s man made form – it was a lovely lesson in balance. That we humans should not always force our will upon this land and it’s gifts. When I allowed the clay to take it’s shape organically, when I worked together with it to find that compromise – to allow it to be, while gently working with it in transformation – it all came together and took form. However, not in the way that I initially intended, but in a way that was even more beautiful, that changed my relationship, perception and intent of it.  I was able to create something I could use in harmony with the Earth and it’s gift – though the lesson the Earth taught me during this project – may have been the more precious gift after all.

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