Last fall I had the privilege of taking Pueblo Pottery at the University of New Mexico with Professor Clarence Cruz. At the time I enrolled I anticipated that it would be a special class but I had no idea of the actual depth and the full extent of what we would learn. We started by going into the countryside and harvesting the clay from the earth.
Before touching the earth we said a prayer of thanks and made an offering.
Professor Clarence stressed the importance of treating the earth with respect and reverence and so we were careful to leave the land as close to how it had been before we arrived. We carried out only what we thought we could use and carted it back to the studio to soak, strain, dry and prepare for use.
The actual process of preparing the clay is quite elaborate and requires patience and time but the end results and satisfaction achieved by working so closely with the earth are worth it. While we allowed the clay to dry, we also ventured out to collect rocks to use as pigments on the clay. This too was quite a process and I will share more about this in my upcoming post.
As a child I had found this beautiful vein of clay running through our backyard in Costa Rica. I remember shoveling some of it up and while it was still moist my father and I sat around forming it into small pots and miniature fruit sculptures.
Although it seems quite logical, I was surprised to find the clay here is all dry due to the climate of course. It looks quite different in the earth and you can find one type of clay just feet away from another color. The diversity and richness of the land is something we seldom have time to fully experience but in doing so I think I have been able to be present with myself and the earth in a new way.