Monday, September 17, 2007

Today we mixed clay. We began by pouring water into two garbage pails and discovering that they leaked. So we went back to the hardware store to get contractor-strength garbage bags, and also got a box of Calgon to act as a deflocculant, which basically allows the water to hold more clay particles, as I understand it. We added two buckets of microbubbles (thank you, 3M!) to two buckets of water, then two tablespoons of Calgon (Ocean Breeze scented). To one bucket we then added about a quart of small nylon fibers especially manufactured for ceramics. These, we hope, will allow the clay to be more flexible and enable us to build higher in order to create a large enough clay structure for me to interact with (the microbubbles will make it much lighter, also helping reach the same goal).

We brought the barrels outside and began to add the clay powder. When using the bubbles and the clay powders, we wear our $50 respirators, bought at Empire Lumber and Hardware, which has been in business in Santa Fe for I think 80 years. It used to sell guns, and the store is decorated with the heads of trophies from around the world, all shot by the original owner of the store (they say).

I changed into battle gear and stepped into the barrel to try mixing the clay with my legs, to see what the clay would feel like as it thickened and to experience moving in it at its different stages. By the time the second barrel was mixed I was pretty tired, and it began to thunderstorm . . . we poured the clays, one with fibers added, one without, into the pools we had created the day before from garden pool edging and canvas. Notwithstanding the rain, this should help the clay dry a bit before we wedge it tomorrow with help from students from the ceramics program, led by Susan Yung, at St. Michael's College, where SFAI is housed. My back is sore tonight.

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