Preparing

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Wedging is the foundational language of clay. It is the principal action that imbues the material with functionality. The slightest variation in the angle of the wrist, the pressure of one’s fingers, or the position of their palm will impact the way a wedged piece of clay is articulated. Each artist develops their own nuanced signature in the wedged object.

Although I was taught to wedge my clay one hundred times (and I always do), I know several ceramicists who wedge their clay only ten times or pull it straight out of the bag and are good to go. Meanwhile, there are potters who will wedge their pugged clay off the wheel and on the wheel, tallying over 300 wedges. How much wedging is actually necessary; at what point is the clay properly prepared—not over, under, or unprepared? How much preparation is truly possible?  

In this drawing, I prepare for the sake of preparing. Essentially, I am preparing for nothing. Each fresh piece of clay is wedged one hundred times, and its tectonic history is traced in pencil lines that are partially erased when the next piece of clay is wedged on top of it. The wall is a recording device and a hurdle in the process, forcing me to relearn a strategy that I developed over twenty years ago.