Welcome! Since I will not have the resources to e mail my usual circle of friends and family while in Ecuador, this is it. This Blog will be my vehicle for "dropping you a line..."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ceramics 101

Feb3, 2011 ceramics

Today is the we did something I have been waiting for all week. We made a pinink, a drinking cup. We have been waiting for Marta to show us how. She was to go to a community yesterday to get the clay. She was not able to go until this morning.

She had to go into the forest to dig the clay from a moist deposit under ground,
in a swamp or  a riverbank. The woman must locate these pockets, and each knows where to find some clay. The clay is grey. She gave each of us an egg-sized piece of clay. We had a piece of board to work on. She showed us how to make a small cup using a small ball of clay and rolling it into a turnip shape. Then we patted one end with a piece of gourd shell to make it flat. Then, a deep impression was made with a finger and the cup was squeezed between thumb and finger to form a bowl shape. The pinink was made in a different fashion. First we made a base by making a disk of clay about 2 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick. Then one circle of “ snake” rolled clay was added around the perimeter of the disk. Then another, and another.  Each ring was placed slightly inside of the previous one. After adding 3 rows, the process of smoothing the clay began. First with the index finger and smoothing from the inside bottom up, and then repeating on the outside. The sides of the bowl were thinned by continually pinching the clay between thumb and index finger. Keeping the shape of the bowl, keeping it even, is difficult. A piece of gourd is then used to smooth the clay, inside and out. The rim was made even by putting the bowl upside down on a board, then lifting it up and smoothing the edge.  Water was used to smooth out any imperfections, and then it was time to stop. I quickly made an indented pattern along the rims to mask the cracks where the clay was too dry. We were an hour late for lunch because we started an hour late, waiting for the clay. If you are late to lunch, you may not get food. The pots have to dry for 2 days, then sanded and fired. We will see if we make it through the next step. Seems that it is difficult to find the walking palm seed we need to polish the dry clay. I have smoothed and sanded my pinink with a piece of gourd and cornhusk, but have to polish before I can paint. I am hoping to paint… a hair is used to form the thin lines of pigment. And the pigment is in another community…

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