Clay Stories

clay series
Clay Stories by Manuela Metra

Tales of clay, tales of earth. Every clay has its story, when you meet it, it’s like meeting a person. How’s his personality? Will we get along? Will clay get along with my refined and mat glazes, maybe a little snobbish? Will clay  be fine with my kiln which is rather demanding? My kiln loves doing things right, puts the clay to the test, loves long, meditative firing, has a Zen soul. Introducing a new clay is always a risk, you have to test it, see how it reacts, understand if it will be able to accept my ideas. Will clay  be able to follow my hands, in agreement? Or will he want to do his own thing? Clay  tales are sometimes stories of love, sometimes of friendship, of passion or sometimes stories of breaking. Years ago I found a very interesting black clay. A stoneware that is soft to the touch, able to remain moist without drying out. He remained in his bag waiting to be molded, always ready. A pleasure for my hands. Once fired at high temperature it had a wonderful black color, intense and full. However, if you put glaze, any glaze of mine, and I tried many, it broke. I opened the kiln, it seemed all right, then the pieces broke, sometimes even days later. For several years I tried to find a solution because I really liked it a lot. I have tried in every way to make this relationship work. There was nothing to do. Either I keep the clay without glaze, or it breaks. I had to accept that we had no future, or, more simply, that with this stoneware, we can only reach a certain point. Another tale of clay, diametrically opposed, is with what I could call my first love. The first high-temperature clay I worked on, now many, many years ago. It’s a rough, strong, chamotte clay, I call it “the breakhands”. It can be wheel thrown only with gloves, it is a sculpture stoneware, not suitable for wheel thrown. So obviously, I use it for that. With this clay we liked each other immediately, everything went well. We have moved, changed dozens of glazes, changed shapes, made pieces of art and for the table, never a disagreement. A happy story, a successful marriage that still works, with the same passion of the first day. But with greater complicity. This is to say that if it works, it works well from the beginning, not that many efforts to improve something that is not working is the best choice. I then met so many other lands, but these are other stories of clay …


I am an Artist, located in Italy, the country of Art and Dolce Vita, in love with wabi sabi ceramics. I am specialized in art laboratories, helping people to meet the creative side of life, and helping creative entrepreneurs and companies with branding through my artworks with a dash of clean style to capture the harmony of life. I also work in Hospitals with clay therapy laboratory for children. This blog is my Artistic Salad, filled with creativity, beauty, joie de vivre, passion and tools for creative minds.

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