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

The Darkest Time is Before the Dawn

Courtesy Getty images

November 2016 when our current “Toddler in Chief” was elected president was a dark time for the United States. We have continued our plunge into more darkness since then. The only good thing that came out of it for me was that I started writing- copiusly. This blog was born soon after in January of 2017. I knew nothing about blogging but just started to blog because I had to. Some 412 followers later I went back to some of those original posts when I had no readers, let alone any followers.

These two poems still apply now, when George Floyd, a black citizen was brutally murdered by a police officer for no reason this last week. The resulting protests and violence is a symbol of our country having enough- of racism, inequality, Covid 19, and the policies of our 45th president. Out of the ashes comes new beginnings. Let’s hope it’s soon.

hands-220163_1280
Continue reading “The Darkest Time is Before the Dawn”

The Art of Hanukkah

It’s known as the Festival of Light and is a Jewish Holiday that falls close to Christmas. 

According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica “Hanukkah, (Hebrew: “Dedication”)also spelled Ḥanukka, Chanukah, or Chanukkah, also called Feast of Dedication, Festival of Lights, or Feast of the Maccabees, Jewish festival  that begins on Kislev 25 (in December, according to the Gregorian Calendar) and is celebrated for eight days. Hanukkah reaffirms the ideals of Judaism and commemorates, in particular, the rededication of the second temple of Jerusalem by the lighting of candles on each day of the festival.”

I’m not Jewish- but I am. My ancestry is Jewish but my parents raised me and my brothers as protestant. They feared repercussions to us being raised in the Jewish faith.  They did not want us to experience the prejudice they experienced as children. My true heritage was revealed when I was 12.  (You can read about my story here on page 29)  I was saddened to have been denied my native culture because of fear.

 I do not have a menorah.  I am fairly illiterate on Jewish culture but tonight on the first day of Hanukkah for 2018 I lit a tea light candle and said the ritual Jewish blessings. Really, I lit the candle for all people who suffer racism, homophobia, misogyny and all other forms of discrimination and also for the people who inflict those ideas.  May they see the light.  People should have the freedom to practice their religion, have their true sexual orientation and have equal rights no matter what race or gender.

 Let the light of  who you truly are

Shine bright

And may the world

Embrace you