The Beauty of Clay

When thinking of primitive times, clay is never a major idea that comes to mind. However, through the first 4 days of this class, I’ve come to appreciate the value and necessity of clay in order to survive as a society.
The first encounter with clay came on the 3rd day of class, when making the mud bricks. I’ve heard about these mud bricks before, but then again – “mud” bricks, not clay. However, clay is obviously key in the creation of the bricks (as demonstrated through our brick-making), and bricks are the key to creating a society, as they are needed for comfortable shelter and homes. Mud bricks are some of the underlying key factors to developing a modern society, as one we live in today. Though the method of making bricks has improved, it is still based on the original structure of these clay mud bricks. On a side note to the bricks, the straw is completely key in holding up the structure of the bricks. Never realized the value of straw either.
Senior year of high school I took ceramics and thought it was cool I could make my own vases, pots, and cups. Yet I never considered what it may be like to have to use ceramics to comfortably survive. In class last week, I experienced a realization that ceramics are completely necessary to be content with living in primitive times. To keep warm, or see your friends at night, or read after dark, homemade oil lamps are a crucial factor. Trays for toasting grain do not just appear for you – to make beer or bread, you must use clay to create a tray. Pots to bring water from the river or lake to your house would not be fun nor efficient to carry in your hands – hence the need for clay vases. Leading into a more “civilized” society, one may even want to make beautiful vases, and burnish and polish them to add a beautiful glow. Even religion of the time relied on clay, to create figurines to worship. Clay is apparent in every aspect of primitive life, and though it is not used as heavily as a primary building material today, it’s original purpose can be appreciated and seen when looking at modern structures. Thank you, freshmen seminar 180, for opening my eyes to the beauty of clay.

Sarah Wood


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