It was a truly fantastic day hanging with @benowenpottery down in Seagrove, NC. We got to go out the Mitchfield pit to dig some clay and hear Ben explain its history, from the legend of its discovery to its current situation (more on all that soon). One of the things that matters to me most about all this wild clay business is the opportunities that it creates to build relationships with people. Much more so than with bagged materials, wild clay work creates an association with place, it offers a story to accompany the pot, and most importantly it puts you face to face with the people behind the clay. Today I got some clay, but what I really got was a lasting memory of digging that clay with Ben Owen III. I got a chance to connect with Ben, a person who I admire greatly and truly is the best ambassador and advocate for North Carolina pottery out there. I got to hear the history of pottery in our state, from someone who has really lived it, while holding one of the materials that the history is made from, in my hands. I got an experience… And no one can ever tell how these experiences shape our lives…but I’m excited to find out what comes of it, and certainly the least I can say was that it was a fun adventure. #benowen #mitchfieldclay #wildclay #wildclayresearch #localclay #localmaterials #ncpottery #ceramics #apotterslife #community

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My fantastic wild clay research assistant for the week @catherine_lemaire_lozier digging clay out of a pit in the Seagrove area. Catherine is a student at @ttucraftcenter and has been running around the state looking for clay and visiting brick factories with me. It’s been a fun and exciting week. #wildclayresearch #wildclay #wildclaygeekout #localclay #localmaterials #ceramics

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Major screening day of all the new clays yesterday. The main process that I use when I want to get all the rocks out of the clays is a wet screening method. The clay is put in buckets and filled with water to start slaking down a couple of days before screening day. That material is added to the blunger with more water and turned into a slurry. The clay is then pumped out of the blunger, through the screen, and into the trough. If I’m blending clays, or adding dry materials like feldspar, that all happens in the trough. The final slurry mix is the transferred to the drying racks. It’s all a lot of work and at times I feel like a peasant toiling around in the mud like a scene from Monty Pythons Holy Grail, but it’s a good way to handle wild clays on a large scale. We screened 2500lbs of clay yesterday. #screeningday #wildclay #ceramics #localclay #localmaterials #clay

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Highlight of the day. A visit with Neal and Peggy Woody, who came by the studio to get a couple pots. I first met Neal and Peggy 10 years ago, because they had some clay that was causing a drainage problem in one of their tobacco fields. What started as some college kids digging holes with shovels grew into the ultimate excavation and extraction of 22 dump trucks of clay out of the Turkey Creek field for me and my friends to use. That clay, referred to as ‘pipe clay’ in the regional vernacular for its historical use in making tobacco pipes, changed the course of my life, formed the foundation that my current body of work is still based on, and created an unexpected friendship between me and the Woodys. Neal has never asked me for any money for the clay, instead preferring to get a few pots made from ‘that old dirt’ every once in a while. When I first started talking to Neal about doing a big dig, I asked with what I would need to do for him and he told me to “just leave my field in better shape than I found it and we’ll be alright” because as he saw it “as it sits in that field, the old dirt ain’t worth nothing to me, it’s what ya’ll do with it that gives it value”. That sentiment remains one of the most powerful ideas in the world to me. It still amazes me that something that was a problem, dirt that “won’t grow much good of nothing” would end up growing all of this. #thewoodys #wildclay #localclay #thatolddirt #ceramics #local #joshcopus

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