I imagined the clay samples would be large, cylindrical core sections that would require intensive processing, after all my collaborators had talked about travelling to the UK with a suitcase full of mud instead of clothes.
Would I have time to process the raw clay deposits and experiment with construction? I picked my technicians’ brains and watched endless YouTube videos on reclaiming and processing clay. Then, at last contact from the UK custodian of the precious clay samples. We met at his office and, to my surprise, he handed me a grip seal freezer bag containing 13 mini bags of fine dust.
On the downside - a lot less clay than I’d imagined, on the upside – beautifully pulverised and sieved.
“Probably mainly limestone, I doubt it’ll be any good for making pots, you might be able to add it to a glaze”.
As I bundled the samples in my rucksack, I was engulfed by waves of doubt and so many questions:
Was this even clay?
Where did the suitcase full of mud go?
Why hadn’t they analysed the samples?
How on earth (pardon the pun) was I going to make a pot out of this dust?
And return any of the valuable dust for scientific research?
What if it didn’t go to plan?
What if I failed?
What was my back up plan?
Maybe I should play it safe and blend it with some commercial clay? Or make it into a glaze, as its custodian suggested?