Working with clay relaxes the body and mind. That extreme tactile experience of molding, massaging, and shaping the clay is almost primal to our psyche. Art with clay goes way back in history to very ancient people. These people were almost always able to find clay from the earth to build their effigy pots for not only objects of beauty, but utilitarian uses as well. 

Ancient pottery is found in almost every culture’s dig sites. Archaeologists are able to set a time frame on these cultures by the pottery found in their ancient sites of occupation. Scientists can tell if the pottery was finished in a low or high fire kiln by the way the pottery has colored on the raw edges. Many times, only pottery shards are found and not complete pieces. Sometimes scientists are able to reassemble those pots if enough pieces are found locally. And other times whole pieces of pottery are discovered in grave sites and home dwelling remnants. 

If the pottery has been decorated with paint scientists can also date it this way. Painted patterns are consistent with time and cultures. This is especially true in the pottery in the SW United States area. People of this area had an unlimited supply of good clay to make their pottery. This was not true of the western native tribes who used pine needles and reeds to make their pots and baskets. Location has a lot to do with the materials that were available for this kind of craft.

To make a clay pot waterproof they need to be fired. Otherwise, the water will eventually melt the clay from its form. Early civilizations used handmade kilns and ovens to fire their pottery. They learned through experience this was necessary to make the pottery hold fluids. When a scientist looks at the remnants left by ancient civilizations there is almost always some form of kiln or oven evidence where there is a collection of pottery or shards.

Pottery making is still a popular form of craft for artists today. Some potters use a potter’s wheel and others use just their hands to shape and mold their clay. Some are used for artistic displays and others may be used utilitarian. Connecting with earth through its clay is a great way to feel the energy given in the form of making art from Mother Earth.

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