Bleeding for Your Art (or Don’t Worry; It’s Organic)

One of the first things I learned when I started ceramics was that all organic material burned out when you fire the clay in a kiln. This was a reassuring lesson since I seem to regularly find my hair (and yes, sometimes blood when I’m particularly clumsy) in the pieces I work on. And should any crime be committed with my greenware (maybe by throwing a heavy lump of clay at someone?), all DNA evidence would be erased, not that I’ve thought a lot about that….

All kidding aside, the fact that organic materials burn out in the kiln can actually be a design advantage. You can use natural fiber such as silk, wool, or cotton, plant material, hair (which I’ve discussed already), and even species from the animal kingdom in a variety of ways. I’ve seen some beautiful pieces where someone takes cloth, dips it in clay slip, then plasters it on to another piece. Others have inlaid plant material onto a plate, leaving beautiful impressions after being fired. And some have even created molds from tree branches. Heck, you could probably memorialize your beloved dead pet by pressing it into a slab, letting it all dry, then firing it. Of course, this might be very smelly and messy, so maybe this isn’t the best way to have a lasting reminder of your pet.

Either way, know that when you buy one of my pieces that although my blood, sweat, tears, and probably hair may have been incorporated into the clay initially that it has all been burned away by the time you get it into your hands.

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