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I am visiting planet Earth. Its an odd place to visit. I do not remember my arrival. It was traumatic. I seem to have amnesia about it and about the time before. It is possible that I am not visiting it, that life is illusory, that my senses deceive me. Who knows? Try as I might I cannot percieve much into the UV or IR spectrums, Unless they heat my body parts I have no way to percieve radio waves directly so I guess my ability to recieve them at all is particularly insensitive. Sound waves past a certain frequency are beyond my ablities as well. Most disturbingly I only see averages of colors as opposed to the individual spectra that a prism seems to uncover for me.

But Earth, Earth is a ball of mostly metal oxides and water surround by a sphere of gas. It is, in a chemists and engineers view, a ceramic orb with a core of metal and a skin of water and organics. So during my visit, it appears that becoming a ceramist, a ceramicist, a clayer, who dabbles in other things is appropriate.

As a child I loved to dig, to make vessels in our mother earth, holes. At the beach, I would play in the water, but also dig in the sand. When we went to the shore of Lake Michigan, where there was no sand, I was most interested in rocks, rounded orbs of igneous ceramic exudate of our planet rounded by glacial and lake action. I also was and still am interested in Petosky Stone, a fossil specific to the Great Lakes, and other fossils. I could and can look at rocks forever, but given sand, still like digging. Unfortunately, my hands, overworked for too long ache and digging is now painful. Otherwise, I could spend my days at the beach, at least it feels that way.

If you have read the top paragraphs then you need to understand some things about truth. It like most other things is illusory. There is literal truth, but also figurative, poetic, factual, realistic truth and perhaps religious truth. They are not in sync with each other. And as much as I want the ceramic information in this essay to be factual, I really prefer useful. Reality is infinitely complex and the only good model for it is itself. With uncertainty, with measurement affecting what is being measured, a real model for reality is impossible to obtain. "It is what it is" is the most accurate model I can come up with. So if you are looking for "Ceramic Truth" to my mind it is a fools errand. The best be can obtain is a model that suites our needs.

I grew up above clay and gravel. Michigan was carved by glaciers, and my little suburb, the Americanish Stetl I grew up in, was built on old lake bottom. Digging through the top soil you quickly came upon a mixture of an impure clay, yellowish, with lime fragments and some igneous fragments. The ingeous pebbles made digging difficult. You could insert a shovel through the damp clay but when you encounterd a pebble it provided greater resistance to the shovel. Stamping on the top of the shovel, eventually the gravel would push to one side or another allowing the shovel to move down a bit more until it encountered another pebble.

As an adult this digging and moving pebbles reminded me of my model of rationalism that I grew up firmly believing in. That is, how you drop a die, a dice, determines which face ends up. I explained this to a childhood friend, that the circumstance before brought about the circumstance after, that all the future was determined by the past, that self determinization, that choice, was illusory, that we only thought we had choice, that all choice was programmed into us by past events, how our brain was wired, what had happened before. I am not sure that he really understood.

But intelligent questions did appear. Could you roll the die so that it landed on an edge rather than a face? Not is it likely, but is it possible? what about if the edge was a knife edge? Could you drop a die onto a knife edge and have it balance? Is there a point at which it is impossible to tell what will happen?

Just because you cannot tell what will happen is not an indication that it is not preordained. Science has clearly show that measurement changes the circumstances of what is being measured. This necessarily means that the act of knowing or trying to know, makes knowledge, at least in part uncertain. You cannot know, your model is necessarily imperfect.

Well I was a kid and I decided that all the future was preordained. It removed all motivation. If the future is preordained then why try? The effort is not worth it. Just sit and wait for whatever is preordained to happen. I gave this a try sitting on the floor leaning on a wall. It got very boring. Was I preordained to sit on the floor and be bored there? With in hour, and likely within twenty minutes I decided that I was preordained to find sitting bored to be absolutely boring and that maybe life would be better if I lived it as if this idea of everything was not predetermined was not true. Apparently I was preordained to live my life as if preordination was not real. I got back to digging holes.

Sometime when I was still in elementary school I started bugging my mother, "Mom, I'm bored." "Go play with Jim (name changed to protect the adults these children have become)". "Jim's bored too". Mom said, "Go dig a hole to China". That was a great idea, we got started behind Jim's garage.

We dug all weekend and then after school. The hole, about three feet in diameter when down and down. It got so we had to pull Jim out at the end of the day, and then we had to pull him out with a rope. Jim did most of the digging because he was small and skinny. Deep differs when you are little and memory is flakey but we could no longer pull him out by hand, the hole was deep. Fortunately the soil was very stable, an amalgam, a composite material, of stiff clay and gravel. We survived. Apparently the adults found the hole. We came home from school and it had been filled in. We never got to China. It is what it is. I am not bitter about it. But we could have kept digging for alot longer. It was fun. Of course, Jim did most of the work.

PErhaps? insert Choir, state of mind, Cantata, choir teacher, Shaarey Tzedek etc. Insert how I enrolled in Ceramics

My last summer at home I made some pots out the clay from the backyard. The clay had lots of yellow orange color. I have learned to associate this color of clay with calcium deposits, although I am not sure that one leads to the other. It had a dense feel. It had some large inclusions, a bit bigger than window old US screens, maybe 20 mesh. I used an Pacifica kick wheel from a kit, with an adjustable fly wheel. I made the pots at home but bisqued them at school. They were not very good, small, poorly trimmed. I was young in clay. I came home a few years latter and the pots were piles of shards. At first I thought one of my brothers had smashed them. It seemed so deliberate with the pots sitting in piles where I had set them. But it was the lime noduals , lime blows. There were so many of them there was nothing left of the pots. There are other materials that can do things like this, but limestone is the prime one. Understanding this requires some applied chemistry an just a touch of physics.

The lime cycle Stress vs strain. other sources of stress, hydrates, cement, paster, colemanite, salt hydroscopics

heating, evaporation, calculus of the relationships (not here)

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Page last modified on August 29, 2022, at 02:08 PM