My beautiful, blank canvas prepares to be worked.

 
I take a huge amount of time and care when it comes to preparing my medium. Preparation, for me, begins before I take my clay out of its bag. I custom mix all of my clay, diligently tailoring it to display certain characteristics. For the last six months of so, my goal has been to design a clay body with as much strength and elasticity as possible. 


Making vessels on the scale that I do, with the majority of my pieces hovering around 15 pounds, means that the standard materials are no longer sufficient. Standard bags of clay straight out of a bag will collapse at this weight and standard clay bats will fly off the wheel with the amount of force that I apply to my clay. I am forced to throw directly on the wheel head and gently pick up my pieces from the wheel after throwing them. I used to use plaster bats to throw, and I often still leave my pieces to dry on these, but there really is no replacement for throwing directly on the wheel. 


I have been slowly tinkering with this formula, altering water content, additives, and more. It is a time-consuming process because the clay needs to sit and ferment for some time after mixing. The particles that have been forced into the clay need time to acclimate to their new environment and bond to the surrounding material.


I take a huge amount of time and care when it comes to preparing my medium. Preparation, for me, begins before I take my clay out of its bag. I custom mix all of my clay, diligently tailoring it to display certain characteristics. For the last six months of so, my goal has been to design a clay body with as much strength and elasticity as possible. 


Making vessels on the scale that I do, with the majority of my pieces hovering around 15 pounds, means that the standard materials are no longer sufficient. Standard bags of clay straight out of a bag will collapse at this weight and standard clay bats will fly off the wheel with the amount of force that I apply to my clay. I am forced to throw directly on the wheel head and gently pick up my pieces from the wheel after throwing them. I used to use plaster bats to throw, and I often still leave my pieces to dry on these, but there really is no replacement for throwing directly on the wheel.

 
I have been slowly tinkering with this formula, altering water content, additives, and more. It is a time-consuming process because the clay needs to sit and ferment for some time after mixing. The particles that have been forced into the clay need time to acclimate to their new environment and bond to the surrounding material.

After the mixing and fermentation process, I meticulously spiral-wedge my clay until I am satisfied with its consistency. I am frequently asked how to spiral-wedge clay and when the clay is sufficiently mixed on the wedging board. My answer is that I have no answer. Spiral-wedging is extraordinarily difficult, one could read dozens of descriptions or tutorials of how to do it and never manage to do so. I discovered this technique several years ago by accident, before I knew that it existed. I often say there is no “right” way to do this art form but when my hands naturally discover ancient techniques (an occurrence that has happened on a number of occasions), I am forced to accept the reality that there very well may to one singular, perfect way to work clay that I have set to fully uncover.