Friday, June 5, 2009
The studio resides at the end of the footpath pictured in the previous post. On our land, this is really the only semi-level, un-tree-covered space...and it is relatively close to the house, just down the hill. It was as if it had been sitting there all these years just waiting. The clear area you see to the right of the building is where our garden now sits...again on the relatively level, fully-sun-exposed site...a site just sitting there all these years waiting.
The building is sheathed in green metal siding, siding that led to a serendipitous creative discovery. After the building was built (with much of the building going on through a very, very wet winter), we found muddy handprints all over the exterior. Since the builders were deep in mud much of the time they were building, it was not surprising. What was surprising was that the mud would not wash off! I used the power washer with detergent...then used a long-handled scrub brush prior to power washing again...then did it all again...and still a residue of the mud remained on the impervious metal siding.
We decided we had some very special clay here, and first fired a brick of it in the anagama kiln. It stood up to the 2400 degree temps without melting into a puddle, and came out with a metallic black finish. Then Nils decided to use the clay in some painting/drawings he was doing. He'd make various dilutions of the clay (slip), pour it across the canvas, then pour water or more diluted slip across that. When it was all dry, he would start drawing onto the surface with charcoal and conte crayon, and wait to see what would evolve. It has proved to be an amazingly evocative medium, with some wonderful clay paintings as the end result.
We now also use this mud/clay/slip as a decoration on pots. Depending on the density of the slip, the color that results can be anywhere from almost orange-ish stain to a deep, metallic black. The effect is wonderful and all the more special because it came right from our own backyard, and was discovered only because we were curious enough to experiment with it to find its potential use. Life's full of lovely little surprises if we remember to watch for them.