Day 9: Elements of Clay Workshop (Day 5)

Greetings Family and Friends,

The Yucca Leaf Brush:

I remember hearing about hygiene in ye olden times and took note of the use of twigs and roots used for brushing ones teeth.  Little did I realize I would experience something similar today.

We each were given two yucca leaves today which were about 12 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.  We clipped them into sections of about 5 or 6 inches long and were given a demonstration of how to make a traditional yucca brush.  Step 1:  Wash your yucca leaf.  Step 2: Chew on one end with your molars, mashing the fibers and extracting the non-essential plant material.  We are after the naked fibers. Step 3:  Determine how long you want your brush to be and in doing so mash further into your leaf if necessary.  Step 4: Once pulverized, use your front teeth to squeeze and scrape.  With your teeth clamped down on your mashed portion of leaf, pull through and out, leaving all the little unnecessary bits of plant in your mouth for you to enjoy.  The mashing was enjoyable, having overtones of a slight snap pea taste, but as you scraped more and more, the gold lost it’s luster.  There was a lot of spitting. 

Step 5: With the fibers now exposed, determine the width of your brush and remove the excess fibers from the plant.  Step 6: Trim and refine your fibers.  Step 7: Test your brush out.

I made 3 different brushes. First was about 3″ in length and 1mm in width. Second was about 1 inch long and 1 1/2 mm in width. Finally, the third was 3″ in lenth and a width of only 2 fibers. (See images) 

Santo Domingo Cookies and Tortillas:

Cecilia can make friends with anyone.  Those of you that know her, know what I am talking about.  There is a couple selling their wares outside of a nearby grocery store.  Mary and Marvin are from Santo Domingo Pueblo and are quite possibly the sweetest couple you have ever seen.  We were told by the grocery store owners that they even help bag groceries when it is slow outside.  Well, Cecilia immediately befriended them and today we purchased cookies and tortillas, that they made especially for us.  Cecilia, God bless you.  The cookies didn’t survive the end of the day and the tortillas are hanging on by a thread.

Cecilia’s Casserole:

I might get this recipe wrong, but I was in the thick of it, chopping veggies for Cecilia.  I don’t think I ever chopped veggies that fast before. I couldn’t help but saying “Yes, chef!”, as though I was on Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsey.  Here is the recipe:  Zucchini, Red Onion, Tomatoes, Olive Oil, Italian Bread Crumbs, and Parmesan Cheese.  Sear zucchini in hot pan with a little olive oil.  Layer in casserole dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.  Next layer of sliced red onion and bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.  And finally tomato layer with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.  Keep layering as depth of pan will permit.  Cook for 40 min.  Yummy.  Smelled incredible.  Cecilia says, “I like to keep things simple in the kitchen” and boy did she ever.  Shear genius.

Painting Our Pots:

We each were given a pink colored slip which was ground up pigment collected by Clarence.  With our newly made yucca brushes, we each started to practice using them on broken shards of pottery.  This was tough.  I wish I hadn’t taken my asthma medication for the day.  It makes me a little jittery, but that soon wore off.  I practiced with a narrow line brush I had made which was about 1 millimeter in width. (about 7 or 8 strands of fibers)  I knew I wanted to do something in the style of Lucie Rie.  I’ve always been attracted to lines that resemble longitude axis delineating the contour of a form.  It was all a matter of patience. 

Clarence said, “leave a gap from the rim of the pot, before you start your “Spirit Line.””  Spirit lines, lines close to the rim of the pot and drawn around it’s circumference, allow spirits to come into your pot.  This was where I would start.  (See image) 

Video of the Day:

Click here to watch Video of: Pots drying in the sun and we sand our other pieces smooth, the decyphering of the Santo Domingo Cookies, and finally the creation of our very own Yucca Brushes.

Pictures of the Day:

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