The Color of Clay

Clay can be dirt in the wrong hands, but clay can be art in the right hands.

Lupita Nyong’o

I work in clay when the mood arises.  In its simplest form, clay is mineral earth, devoid of organic matter. 

For millennia humans have dug their own to make vessels and pieces of art. The clay most artists use in modern times comes from factories.  Different formulations of minerals will mature at different temperatures and will have different properties that are specific to wheel or sculptural pieces. The hotter the temperature the clay fires to, the stronger the finished product.   I generally work in a midfire range clay that matures at approximately 2200 degrees F. 

Within that temperature range there is a variety of colors to choose from that range from white, tan, rust, and brown.  The color of the clay is from pigments or minerals that have been added.  For example, iron oxide gives terra cotta its deep rust color and burnt umber makes clay a toasty brown.

 I like to experiment with different colors of clay.  Since I work with sculptural rather than functional pieces (such as mug and bowls), I use glaze more as an embellishment, preferring to showcase the color of the clay body I’m working with.

When you purchase clay, the fired product will be a different color than the wet clay in the bag. Often white clay will appear gray in its wet form.  Dark clays will lighten or darken depending.

The firing process used to be literally done with a wood fire and in some places still is. I use an electric kiln to fire my pieces.  When the kiln gets up to temperature the individual particles of clay will vitrify, or fuse, creating a permanent, waterproof object.

The clay will perform the same, no matter how it’s colored- it’s how it’s molded that creates differences in strength.  It’s only by fire that clay unites as one.

Clay has so much to teach humanity.

Visit my other blog about sustainable living at onesweetearth.art.blog

To the Homeless Man on the Street Corner

I saw you there

As I waited in queue to turn left

Windshield wipers chasing furious raindrops

The wind buffeting your cardboard sign

HOMELESS

JUST GOT JOB

NEED MONEY FOR WORKBOOTS

PLEASE HELP

The line of cars began to move forward

I turned left, not stopping for the man

Shame spreading down to my toes

In warm leather shoes.

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This experience happened to me last week as I was leaving the grocery store parking lot.  Why do I freeze up when I see homeless people on street corners asking for money? No matter what the backstory, these people are in need and they aren’t out stealing for it.

I live on a very modest income but I have enough to where I contribute to charities monthly.  Maybe it’s seeing the actual face of need in person? All I know is that I did not go back through the traffic but I am making a commitment to change.

I just started following a blog by Cristian Mihai. Cristian is a talented writer from Romania with some type of serious, ongoing medical issues that appear to keep him housebound. He has put out a plea for donations to help pay is medical bills after his attempt to sell reblogs & books has not been enough.  In a sense, he has put himself on a virtual street corner.  To be honest, that same morning I had read his post, I felt the same hesitancy as when I drove past the man on the street corner. When I got home I made immediately made a donation to him on his Pay Pal account.

Times are tough for many in the world, but there is enough to go around if the wealth is spread.  Cristian has over 120,000 followers.  If every one of those followers donated $.15, his 8,000 medical treatment could be covered.  I am humbled when I think of when back to when my son was critically ill as an infant. Friends and strangers stepped up to help out.  Generosity is something I need to continue working on.

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Roll Call

Would the good of mankind

Please raise your hands now?

Are you still in attendance?

All I hear in this cacophony of voices

Are the whistles of the greedy

The shouts of racists

The fervor of religious zealots

The chest beating of narcissists

& the cries of the oppressed.

I know you are there, somewhere

Interwoven in this dark fabric of society

Doing good deeds for others

In humble silence

All but shut out from the print

& the stage of the media

Dwarfed by noise

But not by stature

Hidden in the chaos.

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