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From mud to future artifact

One of the coolest things about ceramics is how clay goes from being endlessly recyclable, to being so durable and permanent that it could outlast our society, just by being heated in the kiln to a particular temperature. It's so poetic!!


Clay is really just mud, which can be shaped into anything that you can imagine, but if this shape is left in a bucket of water, it will "slake" away, dissolving back into formless mud. As long as the clay is not fired, it can be reshaped endlessly. BUT! Once you fire it in a kiln to an appropriate temperature for that particular clay (around 2200 F for my mid-range porcelain), the particle structure of the clay is actually melted and crystalizes into a very, very hard material upon cooling.


Archeologists study the pottery shards of long-ago civilizations more than any other material, because it is the thing most likely to be left unchanged by the passing of time - more than metal, which oxidizes and corrodes, more than stone, which is eaten away by wind, rain and biological growth, and certainly more than wood or human and animal remains. I'm tickled by the idea that I am contributing art to our society that will be around for alien archeologists to find centuries or millenia from now, and for them to infer something about us.


Below is an illustration of a napa cabbage cast that was unusable in some way, so I tossed it back into the tub of slip to slake back into its original form, verses the glazed and fired version.







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