Day 8: Elements of the Earth Workshop (Day 4)

Greetings Family and Friends:

Sand, Slip, and Buff:

Sanding our pots is a necessary step in the process.  It smooths the surface enough to properly accept the liquid slip.  After sanding with 60 and 100 grit sandpapers, we cleaned the clay dust with water.  This “water-washing” preps the surface for the next step–Applying the slip.

A slip or engobe is a liquid form of a clay body and resembles the texture of melted ice-cream.  The slip is applied to the pot in two thin coats with a sponge.  Soon after the second coat is applied, a rag is used to buff the slip coating to a semi glossy surface.  We are using a clay body containing mica particles and when buffed resembles glittering gold particles across the surface.  The change from drying slip to a buffed surface is quite striking.  We all finished buffing our first pot, but it started to rain and we will have to finish our Melon pots tomorrow.

Sopapilla Factory:

Lunch was tremendous.  I am really falling in love with the Green Chili.  I had one of their famous Sopapillas stuffed with chicken and cheese covered in green chili sauce.  Oh my! It was heavenly.  I can’t remember eating a meal that fast .  I don’t know what came over me.  If you are ever in Pojoaque, NM, you must try it out.  The Sopapilla Factory.

San Ildefonso Pueblo Field Trip:

With a storm brewing, we headed off to San Idefonso Pueblo.  The pueblo is the birthplace of Maria Martinez, a potter famous for her black on black pottery.  Today the Pueblo is a thriving community.  We visited with local artists and San Ildefonso Museum. Babbit’s Cottonwood Trading Post displayed many works from multiple artists.  Cavan Gonzales, the great-great-great grandson of Maria Martinez, was working on a piece when we arrived.  Let me just tell you, I was immediately captivated when I saw the piece in progress.  Cavan was sitting there, said “hi”, and went back into contemplation about his next graphic element.(See picture)  He was in the process of painting line work in black of some bird-like symbols on his piece.  I was aching for him to do some brushwork while I was watching, but I also knew not to rush him and most of all, make him nervous.  His line work, however, was amazing and his finished pieces were breath-taking. 

I had no idea that this genre of pots would have effected me the way they did.  The graphic decoration of his pieces and some others in the gallery both confused and captivated me.  Patience, I could tell, was a big factor in the making of these pots.  Concerning the pot Cavan was working on when we arrived, he said, “I have been staring at this all day yesterday and will probably be planning all day today as well.  A piece usually takes three weeks to complete.”  And I started to think, even though I know I shouldn’t.  If I were to work on a piece similar (about 20″ in ht. and 12″ wide), it would take me about a 6 hours to coil build and would look nowhere near as perfect.  Add to that decoration and graphic elements.  I am lost.  It makes my head spin…until Cavan said something very important…”I’ve been doing this since I was 4.”  He was born in 1970. Bottom line: I must be patient.

Pictures of the Day:


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