Thursday 10 May 2007

Shells, Spirals and Chrysanthemums

The most important stage in the pottery process is kneading the clay. Before you can make pots from the clay it must be thoroughly mixed to an even consistency and free of air pockets. If the clay is not properly prepared, the finished pots will be flawed.

There are many methods for doing this, but the one which I use most is Spiral wedging. Pushing the clay in a rythmic rocking motion I turn the clay in on itself a little at a time. Gradually working through the whole mass, one hundred turns this way, then one hundred turns in reverse.

The clay takes on a shell like shape, and some people refer to it as shell wedging.

From a different perspective the spiral becomes obvious. The clay winding inwards to its centre in a rhythmic whirl.

The Japanese refer to it as "kikumomi" , chrysanthemum wedging, as from the opposite veiwpoint it is shaped like a chryanthemum flower.

It's interesting that the same process, the same thing, can seem so different depending on how you look at it. Things that seem so different at first can merely be other aspects of the same thing.

Having lived in Japan for most of my adult life I have come to realise that apparent differences in culture are like this also, alien and unfamiliar at first, but really just a different perspective on the same thing.

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