Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Making pots, making bread

I am deeply involved in these two ancient crafts. Just noticed how many similarities there are between them, when I was given a very unfamiliar bread recipe by a pottery teacher.

Both come straight from the hands. Kneading dough and wedging clay are only slightly different preparation processes, different because you don't want to leave air bubbles in the clay and they are welcome in bread.  Bubbles in clay mean air expanding inside the pot wall in the kiln and a crack or explosion. Gas bubbles in bread dough raise the bread.

Both start with a handmaking and end with a baking, a stage when the maker can only adjust conditions and let the processes go on their own.

Clay is only slightly more directly from the earth, dug and processed clay and glaze materials. Bread is basically ground grain, water, yeast. One is geo, one is bio.

Culturally both are world-wide, ancient and as variable as that suggests. So many techniques, traditional and newly invented or rediscovered. The unfamiliar ones seem deeply peculiar, and they all work.

Both bread and ceramics have become industrial products; some of us still make them joyfully by hand, participating in something elemental and human. I love it.