April 15, 2008

Made In Small Batches

When I'm digging clay for my pottery, I always get a little nostalgic for the David Outerbridge film made in the 70's, The Art of The Potter. That opening scene of the diggers, shoveling clay into some sort of pit to slake down, ...ahhh. The film is about Shoji Hamada and Bernard Leach and my bootlegged VHS copy is a little bit out of focus in the beginning. Does anybody else have a copy like mine?
Alright, enough about that film...

Here I am digging my red dirt. The pit was originally dug by my 2006 Penland Fall Concentration class.

First I peel back the topsoil that, as you can see, is a little different in color. The topsoil is full of roots, small rocks and organic material. The red dirt is below this layer, and that is what I'm after.
Here are the clods of clay that then get slaked down and blunged in buckets.

I find that I can "beat" the clay up easier in these 5 gallon buckets. Obviously I would need a longer prop/jiffy mixer than the one attached to my 1/2 in. drill. if I wanted to mix in a larger/deeper container, i.e. garbage can. I love the color of this stuff. Making my clay in this way is slow and labor intensive. There are more efficient ways to process clay, but for now, with the simple tools I have on hand, it works pretty well, and I really enjoy it.Especially on a beautiful spring day! It's all time spent getting to know my materials. But I would like to be able to mix more clay at a time, so that I could get back to the wheel, where the real work is to be done.

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