Not that I originally had any idea how annoying it would be.
One batch of beach clay was a rich, dark, intense orange-red, slightly gritty, and I soaked it for a long time to get the smoothest consistency possible. Turns out that it is a pig of a clay – staining everything it touches, sticky and lumpy at the same time, and almost impossible to wedge up, as it goes from a glutinous unhandleable mess to a dense resistant lump with no apparent intermediate stage. Of course, it absolutely did not want to be thrown; and after one attempt I damped it down (making it glutinously unhandleable again) and added some fine sand in an attempt to open the body a little. This had no practical effect when the clay firmed up again (perhaps not enough sand) and it reverted to being a heavy, dense, entirely un-plastic clod.
Naturally I am far too obstinate just to chuck it out – having carried it three-quarters of a mile off the beach – so the intransigent clay and I sat to the wheel and beat one another into submission. The throwing slurry is an even brighter colour than the clay, so I ended up red in tooth and claw, and the conservatory looked as if a massacre had taken place.
I can scarcely bear to think of the turning and drying and firing processes still to come; surely these pots won’t survive.
My forearms hurt. Time for a nice little lie down.
I’ve trained them too well: every time I walk out into the garden they rush under my feet, looking for breadcrumbs. So far I have managed not to stand on them (much).
You would think I had stamped on them all when they are lying in their favourite dirt bath, squashed down, spread out, heads extended at bizarre angles, feathers cocked inside out, feet projecting improbably, squirming their wings as if dismembered. In fact, of course, they are just superbly relaxed.
I was not as relaxed as they were, having undertaken a maddening hunt for a pin. I’m careful with pottery tools, but I’m always losing pins. After half an hour looking in every drawer and receptacle, likely or unlikely, I found a brand new one. Where the others have gone, who can tell?
Today was the start of one final collection of beach clay pots, from six or seven different small batches of clay, hoping for some good colour variations after firing. Then I’m going to call a halt – at least until I have grown some new skin on my fingers and the palms of my hands. Exfoliation? Ow!
Lots of technical vocabulary in this one. Some of the authors translate or define the Greek terms they use; some just transliterate; and some don’t bother at all. Which leaves me, with my primitive half-familiarity with the Greek alphabet, painfully sounding out words, and hoping they will come out as something vaguely familiar and guessable.
A few are fairly easy given a context – I could cope with θεολογια; and γνωσις was doable. But προσαρμοσας? Urg.
As for the English language parts: some of these sentences and paragraphs will remain mysterious to me for ever. But that’s another story.
At the first end: ugly lumps, and wet newspaper everywhere, but it’s invigorating to work up the beach clay from slop to gloop to squodge.
At the other end: fragments of apricot light coruscating through trees, becoming a broken arc, a distorted rectangle, finally a golden disc. Full moon.
lxix : Listen to clay singing
When very dry clay is soaked down, it ticks, murmurs, chirps and even whistles. It’s quite companionable.
The weather has taken a turn: sea rolling grey and white, sky heavy. Avoiding the wind we walked under the trees, past the reeds and brackish pools and a few reposing gulls.