It’s not difficult to imagine how important the harnessing of fire and clay has been to the development of clans, societies, and cultures.
Today we examine a potter who uses local clay gathered, processed, formed, and fired in-situ:
Look around you at this very moment, and if you’re near a window, you’ll likely have within view the countless bricks that constitute a majority of our urban structures. Let us not forget that bricks are essentially low-fired clay: clay dug up, processed, formed, and fired from other states, imported to our archipelago.
Manhattan and Brooklyn, in fact, have abundant clay supplies…buried beneath our concrete streets. Construction sites yield some of these original, geological and glacial deposits: deposits that 17th century Dutch potters used in the making of New Amsterdam’s house wares, storage containers, clay water pipes, and roof tiles. Chelsea was once a pond and an active clay site. Beneath the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge, it too was one of the first European settler/potter’s source of clay. Beneath the Jefferson Market Library in the West Village, vestiges of the Minetta Creek (for which nearby Minetta Lane is named) still pools underground; where there’s a creek, there’s usually clay.
Next time you’re out camping and have access to clay and a camp fire, give it a shot: make a few pinch pots and fire them up. Just don’t attempt that in a national park: collecting or manipulating natural resources on park grounds is very illegal. Take it from me: a former Badlands National Park park ranger.