Lydia Grey

portrait“The Housatonic River flowed in front of my childhood home.  Roaming through the woods, I climbed trees and rocks, searched for wildflowers, learned the birds and animals of the woods. The brook meandering toward the river held frogs, bullfrogs, newts, suckers and once, we thought, a dead man – but it was a jean jacket and jeans stuffed with quilts and blankets.

I first met real clay in high school.  I kept leaving and returning to clay, through college, the Peace Corps, jobs of all sorts, and being a mother.  I stayed when I realized I could tell stories with it.  The stories are influenced by my life and the life of my family and friends, myths, legends and, always, the beauty and mystery of the natural world.

Over the last two decades, I have been exploring ways of working with clay: throwing and altering, handbuilding with slabs, pinch and coil.  Each technique calls for finishing in a different way: smoke-firing, low fire glazing, mid-range (cone 6) glazing and wood-firing.

Most recently, I have been concentrating on wood-firing, seduced by the river of fire that runs through the kiln from the firebox, around the pots in the firing chamber and up the chimney, melting ash on the nearly white hot clay.  I work with a team of potters, stoking the flames for 40 hours.

Going forward, I am developing glazes using locally sourced natural materials.  A group of us are planning to build a cooperative wood-fired kiln near here that can be used to teach the process to future generations.  I believe that those of us who work with our hands are keeping knowledge alive that will be needed in the future and that would otherwise be lost.”