Tuesday, December 19, 2006

bones of my ancestors

Today Jim and I drove to Murchison, Texas, in Jim's 'baby' truck. It is a 300 mile trip there--and 300 miles back! A long day. We left at 6:00 am and were home at about 7:00 pm. We went to pick up 1000 pounds of BlackJack clay. Sounds like a lot of clay--but it is not such a lot--that is the whole 1000 pounds in back of the truck.

We had a wonderful visit with John Morrison, 3rd generation owner of BlackJack clay. As Tony Clennell said after his visit with John, "That man knows more about clay than anyone I've ever talked to." It was a very interesting and educational visit. I am wanting to get him to meet with some of the potters in San Antonio to share some of what he knows about clay and glazes. A very significant encounter for me.

Going up, as we got into east Texas, I began reflecting on my attachment to that part of the country. I was born in Longview, TX--just another 50 or so miles east beyond Murchison. I only lived there for 2 1/2 years before we moved to San Antonio but during the war (WW2), while daddy served in the navy, my mother and my sister and I lived with my grandparents in Jefferson, TX, another 50 or so miles north-east beyond Longview, where my mother grew up. Even after the war, each summer we returned to Jefferson to visit my grandfather until his death in the mid-50s. I certainly spent more time growing up in San Antonio than in Jefferson but I have always felt that Jefferson was my 'real' home, that is where my roots are. That attachment to east Texas is a big part of the reason I am attracted to work with the BlackJack clay. Unfortunately, BlackJack is not available in San Antonio, nor Austin, nor Dallas! Thus the 600 round-trip outing today! Tony Clennell was very enthusiastic about working with BlackJack clay and my teacher Diana says I will love working with it--and I think I will, too.

As I was reminiscing along these lines it occurred to me that with this east Texas clay I might be throwing the bones of my ancestors! (Credit to George Crane for the title of his wonderful book, "Bones of the Master") On Clayart we've talked a lot recently about knowing/mastering the 'bones' of our clay work--so this notion has a special appeal to me right now.

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