My love of digging clay out of the earth and making pots out of it begun aged 6 in my friends back garden. I distinctly remember the joy of digging it out, making little pinch pots and leaving them to dry in the baking summer sun.
The village where I live, Corfe Castle in Dorset, is on Wealdon Clay which is usually a gorgeous red from the high iron oxide content. It’s typically a low firing clay and has been used historically from Bronze Age times for making things like storage pots to the present for making hand made bricks. I’m also extremely lucky to have the rare ‘Ball Clay’ surrounding my pottery studio with lots of old clay quarries begging to be dug!
There are a many reasons why I decided to take this journey into wild clay and natural glazes:
- remembering the magic of digging clay as a child in a neighboring friends garden and making pinch pots that dried in the sun.
- a reaction against the ceramics industry’s use of plastics to store clay and glaze ingredients and also the transportation of these materials all over the world.
- having a studio surrounded by clay pits which contain Ball Clay (a rare clay apparently only found in two other areas of the UK), which Wedgwood used for his pottery.
- living in a landscape rich in ancient history, inhabited by settlers who gathered raw materials from the earth to make pottery. I love the fact that clay was a necessary part of ancient culture and where they settled depended on it.
- living in an area with a huge but mostly forgotten clay heritage ranging from clay pipe manufacturing to brick works.
- needing a challenge – I thrive on learning new things – researching where and how to find raw materials will take a lots of learning combined with possibly months of gathering and testing to arrive at a final conclusion.
- an overwhelming urge to connect more with the landscape and what it has to offer.
When I began this journey I had absolutely no idea what form my new work will take which was terrifying but incredibly exciting! And, if I’m honest, I still don’t really know where the path is taking me but I know for sure that I’m enjoying the process!
Throughout this project I’ve kept a diary of thoughts, details of research and experiments and I’ve presented them in my blog. If you’re interested in my hand dug clay and natural glaze journey take a look at my blog https://www.rachelfooksceramics.com/blog/ and the pottery I’ve made so far in the gallery below (to be added shortly).