I stumbled across this video earlier this week. It's really stuck with me. It is quiet, meditative, purposeful, inspiring. I began thinking about the local impact of pottery- in terms of my local economy (including but beyond my family), local influences (people, seasons, materials), and I was particularly struck by a scene of this potter digging clay to use in her decorations.
Several years ago my family camped at a state park on the banks of the Mississippi river. We spent a day on one of the sandbars and found deep, dark, iron-rich clay veins running throughout the sand. We all marveled at how black and sticky it was, took note, and went home. Later in the season we returned with small shovels and buckets to bring some of that clay home. I made a few test bowls to see how this local clay would fire, closed up the bag and forgot about it. Because I work with light clay bodies, switching between light and dark clays is problematic- all of your tools, wheel, bats, etc have to be thoroughly cleaned when switching between clays to prevent mixing that is either ugly (dark or light streaks showing up unexpectedly) or catastrophic (some clays have different rates of shrinkage and absorption- this means explosions in the kiln or bubbling glazes, or cracks, none of which makes this potter happy).
Returning to the video, I thought about this stash of dark local clay in my studio, pulled out a small jar, and made some slip. I'm experimenting with using this dark clay as an inlay.
A second thing that stuck with me was the artist's statement that "we have enough things already in this world" and she is careful about what she makes. Is everything that I make worthy of firing? The energy expended by the kilns, the materials rendered from the earth? The money I've spent on clay and glazes? No. So no more firing of warped bowls, pieces with design flaws or drawing bloopers. Seconds happen (speaking of, that kilnload of ^7 cups didn't heal. The chicken platter was better, but the cups were still crackled from too-thick glaze on bottom). Most of my flawed pieces go into a smash bin for mosaic work, but I don't want to put time or energy into firing pieces that I know are flawed before they are fired. Lots to think about.
Have a nice weekend friends. I'm returning to my quiet.