elizabeth jade rodak

artist + art educator

clay

Elizabeth Jade RodakComment

it comes from our earth. it is a part of our everyday. it is natural. we can take it, move it, touch it, press into it… with love and ideas, with a vision, with a story. like the history of the earth, we each have our own history. think of the layers of dirt, clay, and sand under your feet, your home, your favorite park… there is a story in those layers. clay provides a tangible and visible way to show history, show a story.

clay is a blank canvas. it is a medium that longs to be manipulated into something beautiful. the moment the clay and the artist meet, a story is possible. the clay needs a beautiful, creative soul to come and have a story to turn it into. the clay can be anything you want it to be.

like us, clay has memory, clay is vulnerable when raw and alive. to be vulnerable is to be alive. the clay is vulnerable, it soaks in its surroundings. just like me, just like you. my love for clay has developed because of its connection to my heart and its ability to relate with me and my story no matter where i am in life. if you punch a thrown cup on the wheel and then try to fix it where the wound impacted the vessel, it will come back during the firing. just like humans, when we are physically harmed, our bodies may heal on the outside but our inside is still damaged and it will come back out at some point. clay has that memory. it is sensitive to our touch. so treat clay with kindness. it remembers how you handled it.

when firing clay, whether a thrown vessel or a hand built sculpture, once the piece is in the kiln, we don’t have control anymore. this is just like our human lives. we all have a story. a very important and precious story, but we can’t always control the details of our lives. so, similar to our lives, with clay, we have to handle it with the utmost care and do everything we can to prepare it properly in advance for tomorrow.

when i throw, it is so meditative because of clay’s vulnerability. anything that easily manipulated has to have an immense amount of vulnerability. i know i do, i’m sure you have those moments, too. so as i prepare my clay for throwing, i will wedge it. this process is crucial. this is a step that is a part of taking care of my future. as i wedge the clay, i am ridding it of air bubbles. these air bubbles can seem harmless one at a time, but they can build up and if there are too many air bubbles in one piece of clay, it can cause the vessel to collapse. this relates to my life: destructive habits and thoughts i’ve had. thinking poorly of myself every once in a while wasn’t all that bad, but eventually it all built up and i collapsed. just like my vessels do when i don’t take care of them.

just as i love clay, i have to love myself. just as i love the earth, i have to love the people on earth.