The Mission: to explore, create and inspire!

thePatientPotter is a blog that is designed to encourage and inspire fellow Potters and Entrepreneurs as it takes them through the challenges and triumphs of a 'potter on a mission'.

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Indian Phase

Looking through archived photos of my Indian pottery, memories of a simple lesson learned came flooding back.

My ‘Indian Phase’ was a time that was full of learning, enthusiasm and excitement. We had been in Oklahoma for about 2 years; so we were settled in but still exploring. By this time my studio was up and running and my husband had already discovered my red clay and I was using it in my studio. Above is the first pot I ever made with my new clay. Notice the Indian motifs.

Oklahoma is Indian country, rich in Indian history and my surroundings started to influence my pottery.

Between the ‘Trail of Tears’ and the Indian war with the United States, this part of the country was actually Indian Territory before it became a state in 1907. Not having lived among Indians before, Indian history naturally became something I wanted to explore - and what better way to explore then with my pottery.

Wanting to honor the local Indians by including their designs on my pots, I started looking for pottery that the local Sac and Fox tribe had made. I searched and searched and wasn’t able to find anything. I found this rather odd since didn’t all Indians make pottery back in the day? Well, yes and no.

Volunteering at the Lincoln County Museum around this time, I met a woman who was very knowledgeable in the local Indian history and she explained why I couldn’t find any pottery made by the Sac and Fox tribe.

The Sac and Fox is a Woodland tribe from the North. Pottery was never their thing.

Yes, they are in Oklahoma now, but they were originally from the Wisconsin-Michigan area and became transplants to Oklahoma as a result of wars with the United States. They were hunters and gatherers, and although they made some pottery, they considered it a liability because it was heavy and cumbersome to carry.
All foods are displayed in historically based containers - wooden bowls, bark containers, turtle shells, baskets, gourd containers, pottery, and/or trade brass, copper, and iron kettles.

She directed me to a poster that showed some of the designs the Sac and Fox tribe used on clothing and shoes. As you can see their designs incorporated the flowers and foliage that they associated with in the northern woodlands.
As I learned the history of the local Indian tribe, as well as other tribes transplanted to Oklahoma, my Indian pottery naturally took on a whole new look and feel.
Like anything else creative, pottery is a way to express whatever feeling we are experiencing in the space of time that we allow those feelings to exist. In writing this post I was amazed to see how much my Indian pottery had changed once I had explored my subject. Knowledge is quite powerful.

mission: to explore, create and inspire!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Why I like digging my own clay

In the past I have had trouble explaining, in a condensed version, why I enjoy digging my own clay. There were just so many reasons for it and I found it very hard to describe the feelings that come from the process of mining one's own clay.

Until one day...

... when I joined a blog community challenge that forced me to write a blog post containing a list.


A list allows me to pinpoint specific reasons, one-by-one. And, the timing could not be better. This topic recently came up in a pottery group I belong to so the question is out there and it needs to be answered.

So, Here Goes.

10 Reasons I Like Digging My Own Clay

1. I feel one with nature: the process of digging, cleaning, shaping, firing, and using the end product brings me closer to mother nature and her contributions to life.

2. There is great satisfaction knowing that if the whole industrialized nation around me collapsed, I would still be able to make pots.

3. I feel honored that I am able to give a tangible piece of Oklahoma to someone who cherishes the piece as a memento.

4. I love the fact that I can make something beautiful and useful out of something that is normally a 'sticky, staining, red, messy, pain in the butt!'.

5. The whole process of digging, cleaning and pulverizing the clay is soothing to my soul. It's very rythmic and sends my mind wandering to all sorts of different places.

6. Designing my own clay from scratch gives me a built-in niche that no one else can duplicate unless I want them to.

7. I can design my clay to meet my specifications. I can make simple versions, complex versions, and many in-between versions.

8. My pottery has a story to tell. Everyone loves a good story.

9. I feel a special kinship with the potters of long ago, who knew no other way than to dig their own clay.

10. And, last but not least, I love that my husband is the one who found my clay and saved every last ounce of it for me.

Have I left any out? If so, let me know.