The grounding nature of clay

I think too much, becoming absorbed in much of what crosses my path. This morning, I kept checking in with myself to make sure I wasn’t wasting time by letting myself be distracted. I hand wrote a thank you note. I started soaking a new batch of wheat berries, having made crackers with the last batch after they sprouted. (Delicious!) I checked in about my Mom, who has recently had surgery. I watered the tomatoes. All of it required thought and there were about three disparate trains of thought for each chore I accomplished. (World news, housecleaning, Indian Summer, etc.) I made an Americano and just sat for a while, being aware that I was aware. Then I started working in clay.

Beta brain waves are produced during our normal waking state. Source: Wikipedia Commons

The tiles I’m working on are my version of an antique doorplate, an escutcheon. Since I came home with my mold, I’ve made nine of them. Right now, I’m doing finish work on the wet clay. As I work, the thoughts melt away. I’m brought back to earth, literally and figuratively. Working in clay creates different brain waves. When one is in an incessant thinking, thinking state, your brain is transmitting beta waves. It causes a dizzying amount of brain traffic and, kept up, it’s not good for us. Our minds need a break. They weren’t meant to be ‘on’ all the time. If we allow ourselves to skate along from distraction to distraction, our poor brains are being overworked. Besides that fact, just exactly what are we distracting ourselves from? When I work in clay, my mind becomes calm. Brain waves shift from beta to alpha when I become relaxed. I’m aware of mental processes when working with clay in the alpha state, but I don’t hang on to any thoughts because I’m relaxed. When I slip into a deeper state while working in clay, I stop thinking. There is a feeling of deep calmness afterward because I’ve entered a theta wave state, associated with meditation. It takes a while to reach. As I work on my little tile, I smooth out bumps and

Alpha brain waves are created when we relax or daydream. Source: Wikimedia Commons

roughness with my fingers. I cut away excess clay with a knife. I smooth the leaves and vine relief. I trim the keyhole. I smooth the back and make a notch for hanging. I clean it up. The whole time I’m doing this, I’m free of distraction, calm and smiling on the inside…. It’s as if the clay in my hands pulls extraneous thought from me, soaking it up. I set the tile down for a moment and check the work I did on others yesterday. The tile I’m working on is about mysteries and secrets. It is symbolic. Yesterday, people asked, ‘What is it?’… I just said, it’s an escutcheon, a doorplate, because I didn’t want to talk about it. When we talk about things as we make them, some of the power of the piece drains away. It’s a fledgling thing, not quite formed and we hem it in with words when we label it or converse about it when it’s newish. So, I keep what it is to myself. I like the idea of making a small tile with a keyhole. What does it unlock? What is on the other side? It’s a mystery…. It involves the heart and the intuitive part of ourselves that isn’t about thinking. As I work, the clay draws me in….

Theta brain waves are created in meditative states. Source: Wikimedia Commons


About Jan

I have a background in ceramics, graphic design and journalism.
This entry was posted in Articles and Interviews, Home and Garden, My Work, Video/Photos/Slide Show and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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