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Material Feels Podcast Posts

Sound with Musician, Composer & Assistant Producer Liz de Lise

First off: there is so much to learn about the world of sound! I could have prepared for this show for months and enjoyed every minute of it. My favorite way to dive into materials? Documentaries and videos.

Here are some great resources that explore sound, from the basics of defining sound (sounds waves, frequencies) to sound within a cultural context.

This handy video by Adam McGrath on YouTube served as my intro to the physics of sound waves:

I discovered a rich language of sound to accompany the way I hear and feel sound, as well as the way I edit sound visually for the podcast! Some fun sound facts:

  • Sounds below 20HZ are more of a feeling than a hearing phenomenon
  • The envelope is essentially the story of the sound: every sound has a beginning, middle and an end. There is the Attack (beginning of sound) Decay, (beginning to middle), Sustain (middle) and Release (end).
  • Harmonic Content is how a note on the piano sounds different than the same note on a guitar (because of the “the space in the package” — the instrument!)
  • Overtones “sculpt” the quality of the sound.

Then I went down a wonderful rabbit hole exploring the relationship between gesture and sound:

 What Conductors Are Really Doing | WIRED: “Conductor and organist Kent Tritle explains all that goes into being a professional conductor. From the concepts of legato, marcato, fortissimo, and more, Kent breaks down what exactly his hand movements mean when leading a group of musicians. “

Then, I was looking for a Black conductor to learn from, as the field of conducting has been historically dominated by white, male perspectives. Kalena Bovell is lauded as the “first Black hispanic female conductor” and she’s the music director at The Loomis Chaffee my high school in Windsor, CT!

“Music has the power to change lives, and it’s transformative. And if I can bring that to someone else, my life will be worth it.” A quote from Marin Alsop, the first woman conductor of a major American Orchestra:


I ran into several resources that reminded me of a book I read when I was a teenager that informed my understanding of materials, mediums, creative practices and the blurred space of interdisciplinary truths: Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer. Here is an excerpt from an article Lehrer wrote for WIRED a few years ago:

“When listening to our favorite songs, our body betrays all the symptoms of emotional arousal. The pupils in our eyes dilate, our pulse and blood pressure rise, the electrical conductance of our skin is lowered, and the cerebellum, a brain region associated with bodily movement, becomes strangely active. Blood is even re-directed to the muscles in our legs. (Some speculate that this is why we begin tapping our feet.) In other words, sound stirs us at our biological roots.”

Then there is The Sound Is The Scenery documentary:

“You may think we listen using our ears, but it involves the body as a whole. Tune yourself to what you hear: bodies and the space around us function as a single organism.”

Another big influence on my understanding of sound: deaf folks sharing what it is like to listen to music. From Sensations of Sound: On Deafness and Music By Rachel Kolb:

“Can you hear the music?” Even though I now can, I think this question misses the point. Music is also wonderfully and inescapably visual, physical, tactile — and, in these ways, it weaves its rhythms through our lives. I now think a far richer question might be: “What does music feel like to you?” 

And people experiencing hearing loss due to illness or disability. Have a listen to Hearing Me, a BBC Documentary. “What does life sound like for someone whose hearing has suddenly changed? Carly Sygrove is a British teacher living in Madrid. She was sitting in her school’s auditorium when suddenly her head was filled with a loud screeching sound.”

Which led me to the choreography and story of Shaheem Sanchez, a deaf dancer: How Do Deaf People Experience Music?

The Responsibility of Production: Accessibility

I kicked off this episode by listening to What Do You Stand For, by HowSound (one of my favorite podcasts about podcasting!) while driving down I-5 to meet up with my sister in Southern California. Here’s the episode description:

“Why do you report a story or produce a podcast and send it out into the world? What gives you purpose? What do you stand for? Rob finds meaning from the original NPR mission statement. He talks to Bill Siemering about writing the statement in 1970, the first broadcast of All Things Considered, and what inspires Bill to work in radio for several decades — the power of the human voice.”

Delving into the “why” behind Material Feels: my goal is not only to honor the material world, explore our relationship with it and center the creative impulses we all have. The point is also to center the voices of people who are not typically in the mainstream spotlight. Small business owners. Queer folk. Non-binary folks. BIPOC makers. QTPOC makers. Womxn makers. 

Then there is another crucial intersection: the accessibility of materials (who is known for using them and why? Am I interviewing and centering experiences of people living with illness and disability?), when it comes to the guests on the show, the materials we focus on and the podcast collateral itself. Are my photos captioned? Can people access a script?

Here are some ways I will be further aligning with these values in Season 2:

  • I will center artists who are BIPOC and/or QTPOC makers, artists living with illness and/or disability, small business owners and/or working class makers, rural makers, womxn, etc.
  • I will make the podcast as accessible as possible, publishing captions & full scripts, employing accessible design principles with visual content.
  • I will create radio through the lens of racial and disability justice.
  • I will pass the mic, using my power and privilege as a white, able-bodied host to equitably represent stories in the context of art materials.

The Visual Process of Editing Sound

It’s actually a highly visual process to edit sound…for instance, with the podcast, I typically take out people’s “ums” – and when someone does it a lot, I begin to recognize the specific shape, the pattern of their “ums.” Matthew’s ums were soft and low, more like a rustle of the throat. Danielle’s ums were more musical, low and long. Dominique said “and” as a longer filler between thoughts; Redwood’s were more like breaths, Gracia’s were short and medium pitch, always the same length.

Then there is the layering: when you edit a piece for audio, there is music in one track or layer of the piece, narration in another, what we call “characteristic” sounds in yet another. Then to take it a step further, and discuss music, musicians who work with sound software may have different effects and instruments separated out even more. You cut, rearrange, layer, replay, close your eyes and paint a picture with sound between the speakers.

Layering sounds changes or sculpts the frequencies into a new sound. It’s like design, or painting, or sculpting patterns for your ears, body and emotions.

Working with Liz

Elizabeth de Lise (she/they) is an artist based in Philadelphia. de Lise’s work has been described as bridging the gap between “experimental and widely accessible” (John Vettese for NPR), and “playful, ambitious…undeniably luscious” (Lizzie Quinlan for Earhart).  They front the band Lizdelise, a dreamy pop rock band from Philadelphia. Angular guitar lines meet looper and drum samples to create pulsing, intricate soundscapes and melodies–equal parts distortion and intimacy. (For fans of St. Vincent, Wye Oak, Dirty Projectors) 

Liz and I have known one another for about a decade now. We met in college where we both worked at the student-run coffee shop on campus. Liz played in various bands on campus, she did shows at the coffeeshop and at our dorm, Earth House, where we eventually lived together. We traveled across the country one summer with our friend Eliza and lived in Portland and Liz busked (played guitar on the sidewalk) for summer funds and got to know the unhoused community there. 

Over the years we’ve kept in touch and we talk nearly every day. I am so lucky to work closely with such a trusted friend (and brilliant creative mind) on a project that is so near and dear to my heart.

On Misophonia

In this episode I share a bit about my personal experience of sound. I live with a sound sensitivity and neurological condition known as Misophonia. This video on Treating Misphonia was particularly helpful to me (I won’t be sharing the other videos that include all the trigger sounds, I’ll let you find that on your own!).

Precious Sounds & The Point of Appreciating

There is a sound collage in this episode inspired by responses to the question: What sounds are precious to you? Responses included…

  • my huskies little howls to greet me
  • summer cicadas
  • pouring rain
  • a crackling fire
  • my miniature schnauzers snores
  • my kids laughter
  • crunching winter steps in the snow
  • a mourning dove’s song
  • ocean waves
  • a cat purring
  • The wind passing through trees
  • my nephew telling me he loves me
  • guitar strumming

Appreciating the physical world (materials) and honoring our creative relationship to them means nurturing a deep appreciation for our own sensitivities. This means being present and grateful and… once we reflect deeply on what we are grateful for, sharing that out. 

And if you are a Material Feels listener, you are already intimately acquainted with the sounds I love. That’s the beauty of producing your own audio project… you select the voices, the sounds, the scoring… it is just *chef’s kiss* amazing!

Hiatus: See You Soon For Season 2

Material Feels will take a brief break to get Season 1 out into the world more, publish scripts, work on our website and prepare for a lush Season 2! We’ll also be using this time to look for a home. Do you know people in radio? Are you a network looking to pick up a new pod? Let’s talk.

Please keep following us on social media (Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook) where we will be post show extras and continue to share stories celebrating artists and their materials. 

Massage Therapy with Gracia Logue-Sargeant of Wildheart Bodywork

Now that six feet apart is the status quo in many communities, touch is a rare thing. A hug, once a simple form of greeting between acquaintances and loved ones, has become a dangerous risk unless you follow very specific instructions. Then there are layers of grief folding in, the stress of unemployment, the adrenaline of protests / actions, the tension of internal work hopefully many of us are doing to eradicate anti-blackness. This is all taking a toll on our bodies in different ways. A toll that might be relieved by human touch, by body work — but unfortunately many of us can’t access that, especially right now.

This episode explores flesh and muscle as a medium. Yes, there are technical bits, but a huge part of bodywork is the emotional framework that runs through (and often determines) the tension, pain points and alignment of our bodies.

This episode explores the flow of a session with Gracia, what got her into bodywork, what bodywork means to her, how we hold emotions in our bodies, and the impact of trauma on our physical selves.

Wildheart Bodywork

Gracia Logue-Sargeant has been practicing bodywork for five years. Bodywork, or massage therapy, has over thousands of years of history, with roots in China, India, Japan and Egypt. Massage is a form of care that human beings have Gracia practices Deep Tissue, Swedish, Sports, Myofascial Release & Shiatsu Massage in Oakland, CA. She incorporates trauma-informed care with sensitivity to the needs of those of various sizes, races, genders, sexualities and disabilities into her practice. Check out her website and follow her on Instagram. She’s also an incredible musician! Listen to her music, Phantom Tides. Oh, by the way – here is an eerie but helpful video to help you visualize trigger points.

Our Patreon: 50% Contributions Go To BTFA Collective This Month

OMG! We have a Patron now! This means you can contribute to the show to keep it going. Fun fact: Did you know? It’s our goal for Material Feels to center the visions and voices of queer, non-binary folx and womxn. Matthew from Ep1 was our cis white male Unicorn!

**A least 50% of Patreon contributions will go to a black-led organization in the arts. This month, we’ll be splitting any contributions with Black Trans Femmes in the Arts Collective, a collective based out of NYC that is dedicated to creating space for trans people in the arts and beyond.**

Dedication: For Elizabeth Jameson & Finding Intimacy Without Touch

This episode is dedicated to Elizabeth Jameson, a friend and colleague who I worked alongside for years. Elizabeth is an artist, speaker and patient advocate. Elizabeth began making artwork out of her brain scans after she was diagnosed with Secondary Progressive MS in 1991. She now lives with quadriplegia, meaning she doesn’t have the use of her hands, arms, legs or feet. I met her after responding to a Craiglist ad seeking an artist assistant. I embroidered portraits of her brain scans for her practice, traveled and installed her work at shows all over the country and a few years in, we began writing together.

In this episode, with social distancing and the threat of COVID-19 posing a threat, especially since Gracia provides home care to an immunocompromised person, we had to stay very far apart. In fact, Gracia had to hold my recorder, press record, adjust levels and format the file while I had my studio headphones on, connected by a long dangling cord. The connection I experienced with Gracia reminded me of a story Elizabeth told me, a story we included in an essay published in the New York Times. There is a moment in that story where Elizabeth feels the spark of connection, similar to the connection of touching someone, when they adjust her voice amplifier just so.

This episode is dedicated to Elizabeth, and the deep, introspective and vulnerable work she does to share her lived experience and connect with others.

The Music: Lizedelise & Phantom Tides

As always, we close out each episode with a song created by my collaborator Liz de Lise. Liz takes inspiration from the material, the feels, or both. Listen to the song on its own here and check out the lyrics below.

As I was doing the final edits of this episode, I realized that while we touched on Gracia’s passion for music, I hadn’t listened to her work! I was having a bit of a block scoring a few parts that I felt were particularly powerful. I just couldn’t find the right sounds to compliment Gracia’s words, but I knew music was needed to echo the emotions and concepts. So I put on Phantom Tides and let her voice wash over me. Three of Gracia’s songs accompany this episode; An ocean with no waves, Break or Bend and Wayfaring Love. Please listen to them on their own and consider buying one of her albums: they are soul-filling.

This show also includes underscores by Liz as well as MSFX and Thirsk; I source my loops and many characteristic sounds from www.FreeSound.org, a great resource for producing audio.

One Moment

 take what you can
from me
 
pull it out
     (I don't know the name)
pull it out of me
            (had to forget)
     (you always find...)
read my mind
try not to take it personally
push me down
sway me all around the room
I know we'll be through soon
 
take what you can
from me
 
can you fold me up
into something small enough
to fit inside your hand
I need one moment
where my feet don't need to plant
where I can sit
and stand for something more

Craft Cocktails with Redwood Hill

Cocktail hour is back, apparently! So pour yourself your favorite libation and enjoy a specially curated “session” with Material Feels.

Redwood Hill has been mixing drinks in the Bay Area for over a decade. She is currently an instructor for the Restaurant Opportunity Center, a non-profit in Oakland, CA that provides free professional development to folks in the restaurant industry. In this episode we explore the art of recipe-building, the dynamics of serving and the complex history of liquor in all its myriad forms.

Our interview resulted in such lush, intricate material– a conversation about craft cocktails evolved to cover identity politics, colonization, inclusion and exclusion in the service industry, the role of memory in expanding one’s tasting palette.

Identity Politics

In this episode we chat about what it means to fall into an ambiguous category when it comes to gender and race. How this shows up for Redwood as a queer, black bartender with a fluid gender identity.

I encourage listeners who are not often “one ofs” (or, the only ____ in the room) to spend some time learning about how identities and categorizations negatively impact people. It’s tricky with audio, because I’m just this voice in your head. And I don’t know you or your life story, you don’t know mine. But I hope my listeners with various degrees of privilege perk up and get curious about how structures marginalize specific identities for profit and gain. For those of us with privilege (writing/saying this as your white host with class privilege), it’s essential we use any power we have to support folks who are marginalized for collective liberation. <3

The Restaurant Opportunities Center

The Restaurant Opportunities Center, or ROC, is a nonprofit organization fighting to improve wages and working conditions for restaurant workers throughout the United States. ROC provides free job training and professional development for restaurant workers; the local Bay Area chapter is located in the Restore Oakland building in Fruitvale. Redwood is a bartending instructor there and throughout shelter-in-place has been creating and facilitating content for online learning.

As businesses begin to reopen, ROC plans to open a restaurant called COLORS, which will offer hands-on job training and access to livable wage jobs in the restaurant industry for communities of color. 

During our interview, Redwood also spoke about Jessica Moncada, one of the women in the cohort of women of color infiltrating the craft cocktail industry back in the day and currently.

“Jessica was definitely my personal invitation to the craft aspect of bartending. She & I worked together on unconventional bar pop ups. Her and her business partner Kori Chen are finally opening Alkali Rye, a bottle/tea shop in the old Alchemy shop after years of trying! They’re a go-to as an essential business in the spirits market. A largely POC & WOC portfolio with an intention about which spirits are stocked and the ethical practices of those brands.”

Follow Redwood on Instagram, check out the Restaurant Opportunities Center’s website and keep your eye on Alkali Rye!

Adventure Time

Each episode I like to go on an “adventure.” So far these adventures have included a Saturday class at Kids N’ Clay in Berkeley, where we smashed a pot of mine I always hated, an excursion to a wool mill out in Woodland and a walk in the woods along my favorite trail in Oakland.

But this episode’s adventure was not a field trip — instead, we visited the shores of Martinique in our minds, listening to the lapping waves of the ocean, salt and mineral in the air, the breeze blowing through tall sugarcane stalks. Oh, and we had Old Fashioneds on Redwood’s roof with my housemate and her partner! That was nice, too.

The Material

Studying the material meant learning about the history of craft cocktails (of course I was intrigued by the history of my personal favorite, the Old Fashioned!). Tapping into the history of liquor, from fermentation to distillation. Re-educating myself around what exactly alcohol does to the brain. Learning more about the performative aspect of bartending and hospitality. It also meant making a drink or two while I made the episode!

A beautiful documentary that inspired me as I was putting Episode 4 together!

Fun Fact: During the interview, I also ask the guest what music they are listening to right now. This helps me get inspired while I write the script and arrange the story — and it’s also a great way to learn about new music! Redwood is currently listening to Horace Silver, Alice Coltrane, the Fiona Apple album, JLA Electronica and Doja Cat.

An Old Fashioned For Grandpa Derr

This episode focuses in on the Old Fashioned, which happens to be my “drink” and the drink my family toasts to honor my grandfather. Completely by coincidentally, it is also the drink Redwood made for us after our interview in early May!

As we learned from Episode 4, recipe-building can involve research, poetry, drawing, tasting and refining. My recipe for the Old Fashioned I make in honor of Grandpa Derr is one shaped by many years of making, and I thought it would be fun to include it:

Muddle the following:

2 shots of bourbon
3 dashes of Angostura Bitters
A touch of maple syrup
A slice of citrus (orange is preferred)
2 cherries and a dash of the juice

Add:

5 whiskey stones from the freezer, or ONE giant ice cube

Put on a favorite record or playlist, lift your glass and cheers, "To our beautiful family!" :)

Original Music by Lizdelise

As always, we close out each episode with a song created by my collaborator Liz de Lise. Liz takes inspiration from the material, the feels, or both. Listen to the song on its own here and check out the lyrics below.

This episode I also used underscores by Liz as well as MSFX, Pax1 and Yellow Tree; I source my loops and many characteristic sounds from www.FreeSound.org, a great resource for producing audio!

Pour Me

 Wouldn't it be nice if I could
Pour myself inside your head
Fill you up with all the sweet things
That I always wish I'd said

I can't erase the place from the taste
a shadow cast
a white hot light
I won't replace the place from the taste
assemblage built
in the misty night

often when I smell your perfume
I recall things that haven't happened yet
somewhere in the heart of spring's bloom
we got so full, we had to forget

I can't erase the place from the taste
a shadow cast
a white hot light
I won't replace the place from the taste
assemblage built
in the misty night

there's a party or a fight outside
everybody's trying to get close
there's a party or a fight outside
everybody's trying to get close
everybody's trying to get close

Woodworking with Dominique Tutwiler of Oaksmith Furniture

Meet San Francisco-based woodworker and furniture-maker Dominique Tutwiler of Oaksmith Furniture. In this episode we meditate on wood, the art of furniture design and how makers reclaim concepts of home.

Oaksmith Furniture

Dominique Tutwiler is the founder and owner of Oaksmith Furniture. They create handcrafted, custom furniture that is accessible for all. “I grew up in small apartments my whole life and still live in one today. Every square foot counts, which is why I believe that each piece of furniture in your home should be worth the space that it takes up.”

Follow Oaksmith Furniture on Instagram and check out the website to learn more about their work!

Concepts of Home

Yes, we focus on wood, specifically furniture making, for this episode. But we also address the meaning of home, how privilege impacts everyday spaces and how makers can help us all reclaim home.

Every material we explore on the show has so many complex connections, so many threads to follow. Learning more about D’s process and priorities, the concept of home and how material impact our daily lives was a thread I could feel tugging at my brain.

Concepts of home in the Bay Area are already shaped (and threatened) by powerful forces that abuse human rights, specifically the right to housing. And the shelter in place ordinance in the Bay Area and now state-wide in response to the COVID-19 outbreak has brought to light how urgently, universally relevant these concepts of home, safety, belonging and stability are to so many of us.

By The Way… Sheltering In Place

I visited Dominique in their apartment for our initial interview on Sunday, March 15th, 2020. The following day, the Bay Area began sheltering in place. Over the course of the month I spent working on the episode, things continued to shift on both a global and local scale.

Staying put every day, creating and working from home, I acquainted myself with wood close by. Like many of us who are staying put, my understanding of home, along with my relationship to my housemates, my community, my sense of self and my sense of purpose has shifted and changed over these weeks.

What might have been a constraint (focusing on the material in my day to day life rather than going on an adventure to a wool mill or ceramics studio like episodes one and two) turned out to be fitting. The role of wood in our homes is enormous, but we might not always notice.

As a furniture designer and maker, Dominique crafts the experience of an object from start to finish: where it will live, the purposes it will serve, the memories it will hold and carry forward.

And so I acquainted myself with the furniture that makes the biggest impact on my daily life.

The wooden table my housemates and I sit at everyday, a table the owner of the house made.

The piano in our living room, where we play and sing and practice.

The light box my grandfather made that I’ve carried with me my entire adult life. It is a tool for tracing, drafting and collaging.

The Material

If you are interested in learning more about woodworking, check out podcasts like It’s Wood by Daniel Carter or watch an episode of the PBS series Craft in America. The piece on memory really shaped my understanding of wood in the context of furniture making, home making and legacy:

Original Music by Lizdelise

As always, we close out each episode with a song created by my collaborator Liz de Lise. Liz takes inspiration from the material, the feels, or both. Listen to the song on its own here and check out the lyrics below.

This episode I also used underscores by Liz as well as MSFX.

how can we get back 
to where we were before
just the same
only better
just the same
only sweeter
how can we get back
to where we were before
just the same
only softer
just the same
only better
just the same
the same the same
just the same
only stronger
just the same
only better

Exploring Valley Oak Wool Mill & Weaving with Danielle Garber

Dedicated To The Ones We Love

This episode is dedicated to the ancestors who never claimed the identity artist but who lived their creative truth. The role models who continue to inspire us each day.

Fun fact: the grandfather who makes a candid appearance towards the end of the episode would have been 100 years old today! Happy Birthday Grandpa Derr!

The Material

There is a lot to learn about the world of fiber, from process and sourcing to hundreds and hundreds of years of history and place-based making. We just barely scratched the surface! Some great podcasts to listen to if you are interested in learning more:

Reverberate, a podcast by A Verb For Keeping Warm, that very same weaving shop whose front window Danielle pressed her face against all those years ago! “Reverberate is a podcast exploring our wide world of textiles and the people who grow, design, make and wear them. Produced by A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland, California. Hosted by Adrienne Rodriguez.”

Fiber Nation, a podcast by Interweave, one of the nation’s foremost art and craft media companies with businesses in magazine and book publishing, interactive and social media, television and video programming, online education, live events, and online shopping. “Fiber Nation is a knitting podcast presenting tales of textiles, craft, and culture. From family farms in the American heartland to a woman’s cooperative in Afghanistan, each episode explores what connects us as knitters and makers. Join host Allison Korleski as she talks with people from all corners of the yarniverse: designers and dyers, shepherds and spinners, publishers and pathfinders.”

Craft In America, an incredible series by PBS. Specifically the Visionaries episode:

Every Thread Handwoven

Follow Danielle on Instagram and check out Every Thread Handwoven for more information about upcoming workshops, her shop and coaching! “Every Thread Handwoven was created by Danielle with so much intention and dedication to process. Yes, the fabrics she creates are in fact handwoven, every single thread held, placed, threaded and woven. But every thread handwoven is about how every thread of our lives, too, are handwoven. That each part, each choice, each experience is woven together to create the fabric of our lives. As we become more aware, more intentional, we become the hand that is creating that fabric, more refined, more intricate fabrics and patterns can emerge and materialize. Through our relationship with ourselves we can affect change outside of ourselves.”

Valley Oak Wool Mill

Learn more about Valley Oak Wool Mill and see the machines in action here:

Original Music by Lizdelise

As always, we close out each episode with a song created by my collaborator Liz de Lise. They take inspiration from the material, the feels, or both. Listen to the song on its own here.

how can i map where i am where i've been
and where i'm going to
I see my future clear as daylight
tripping into my room


carry you with me
all of the time
whether or not I mean to
so tell me what you’d have me do


what can i do
when my memories of you
are all but threadbare and worn
speaking in tongues I don’t understand

you are the weaver I am your hand


tangled in your web
i don't ever want to come back out again
I don't ever want to come back out again


how can I hold you
how can I hold the fabric of your skin
how can I unravel to begin
again

In The Clay Studio with Art Educator Matthew Duke

In this episode we explore the intimate relationship between people and clay. We visit Kids ‘N’ Clay, a children’s ceramics studio in Berkeley, California, where we learn more from creative director and art educator Matthew Duke. My conversation with Matthew takes me back to my initial encounters with clay as a young adult. I weave my memories in with his experiences and observations as an artist and educator.

Matthew Duke of Kids ‘N’ Clay getting ready to throw

Deep Dive: Details on The Material

Clay is a natural material that comes from the earth. It is decomposed rock that takes a bit of time to form (oh, just a million years or so). People have been shaping clay into functional pottery, tools and works of art for tens of thousands of years. We see the results every day: dinnerware, planters, tiles in the bathroom.

You can buy clay processed in a bag from store, but sometimes you can also can dig it out of the ground, depending on what your soil is like and if you have a backyard. When clay has been prepared for pottery or sculpture has had the twigs, pebbles, roots that are naturally dispersed in it sifted out.

Then you mix in some additional stuff, things that make it easier to work with. Sand, grog, silica… The clay is now a clay body that can be sculpted, molded, carved, cut, coiled or thrown on the wheel into various shapes. It can be turned into slip, a liquid form of clay used for mold making. As sculptures or vessels begin to dry, we call them “leather hard.” It’s in that leather hard stage that we can carve shapes into it or, if it’s a thrown vessel, trim the pot on the wheel to fine tune the shape.

Then there is the firing process. Once you fire clay in a kiln, it becomes ceramic. We call it bisque ware when it comes out of the kiln the first time. Then we add glazes for color, texture and other effects. The glaze also seals the surface so that the pieces are water-resistant. We fire it again and bring our work into the world (or we smash it, depending on how we feel).

Catching The Feels: Dedications

I intend to dedicate each episode from here on out. This intention came up organically when, during the making of this first episode, I discovered that Mr. Rabetz (or Walter, as I should probably refer to him, now that it appears I am a grown up…), the art educator who first mentored me in the clay studio, had passed away that very month. Walter was also a basketball coach, photography teacher and the Head of the Art Department at The Loomis Chaffee School for 37 years. He produced a series of photo-essays together titled Embracing Place: The Bear Mountain Bridge, The Jewel of the Hudson.

Original Music by Lizdelise

We close out each episode with a song created by my collaborator Liz de Lise. They take inspiration from the material, the feels, or both. Listen for Hudson Glows For You / Walter’s Song at the end of Episode 1 or here, with the rest Liz’s podcast music.

Every day 
Somehow a surprise
The way the growing darkness
Can open up your eyes

Every day
You’re made again
Hudson glows for you
Hudson glows for you

There’s a dance
Captured by your hand
There’s one single moment
Stretched
At your command

The destination becomes the doorway home
Hudson glows for you
Hudson glows for you

Credits & Contributions

Special thanks to Matthew Duke of Kids N’ Clay, composer and musician extraordinaire Liz de Lise of lizdelise, a band based in Philadelphia, Heath Ceramics (though I didn’t use any of the audio, my field trip up to Sausalito was so instructive), the staff at Berkeley Advanced Media Institute for your instruction and my fellow podcasters / audio geeks Mia, Jessica and Jackie for keeping me motivated. Oh yes, and Walter Rabetz, for setting my relationship with clay in motion 16 years ago.

See you next time!