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Author 02.02.2014

A journey: trying to find good clay

Today we are going off on a journey: we will look for good pottery clay. Here in Togliatti there is a potter uncle Misha (like in that movie) – he comes from the village Sukhoy Karsun (it’s in Ulyanovsk region). And he works with clay only brought from there. This clay suits for work on a pottery wheel very well; it is neither too fat, nor too meager. It does not have subtle stones and lime that can tear an article apart while it is burning. That’s why you may omit cleansing of such clay; you only need to knead it very well… Well, let’s go?

At first we drive a long way in our old car to Ulyanovsk. There we visit our friend Ruslan, and in the morning we take him with us and drive further.

Our first stop is the Museum of the artist Plastov in the village Prislonikha. Older people probably remember that there was a copy of his picture “Hay harvest” in the literature textbooks. And maybe even now there are his pictures in the textbooks. So, he is a real big artist. And if you also pass through this village definitely stop by this museum.

Plastov Museum

А.А. Plastov   Plastov Museum   Plastov Museum   Plastov Museum   Plastov Museum

А.А. Plastov. Haymaking   А.А. Plastov. Adolescence   А.А. Plastov. Landscape   А.А. Plastov. Petr Grigoryevich Chernyaev   А.А. Plastov. Rill

Unfortunately we did not make it inside because it was Monday. And on Monday museums don’t work. Let’s drive further…

The next stop is Sukhoy Karsun. Here we began to inquire people where we can get clay. They pointed toward the field, but to be on the safe side they sent us to a local potter.

There was a time when all villagers lived on pottery. But as it is known in Soviet time there were some extremities and etc… So now there is only one potter. His name was Viktor (I forgot his last name). He showed us around, told us about his work and life… He told us about the museum in their village – the museum of pottery ware. But to see the museum we needed to make arrangement in advance for them to prepare it, to preheat it… so again we missed the opportunity to see a museum))

Local potter    Local potter

Pot   Pots   Pots for milk   The old woman overdo lead

We also saw Viktor’s works and his pottery wheel. By the way his pottery wheel is wooden and is put in motion by the belt on the crank shaft. And he covers his articles with home-made lead glaze. In the picture above his mother is burning lead in a big tub. As a result she has a powder – lead white. Then they mix it with milk or something else and cover pots with it. I asked this old woman about lead: people say it is very harmful. And she answered: she has been burning it all her life and she is eight odd years and is still healthy)) So it looks like all these poisons are not that scary but fear to be poisoned is scary))

Viktor told us where to go. But he said the road was muddy so we would not be able to drive there. But we have already set our hearts on it and came here from the other end of the world. And though Viktor kindly offered us two sacks of clay we decided to try our luck anyway.

And here our epopoeia begins… It was November, there were no heavy rains, and it was dry. But on this field the soil is clayey and water does not soak in. And on the way to our dear clay deposit we got stuck two times; though we got out quite fast as we had a lot of strength and we were vigorous and cheerful)))

We're stuck

Field. Where to get clay   Take out car   Take out car   Take out car

It did not work out to drive to the excavation site so we had to walk about one kilometer and then carry our trophies from there to the car. It would be all fine but we drove back loaded so we stuck almost every 100 meters. Our optimism diminished.

How lucky we were that Ruslan was with us; otherwise I would stay there in this field with my wife and little son)).

Cows

Cows looked at our efforts with curiosity.

Our harvest :)

Our harvest. Where to get clay

Eventually it began to darken, and we only got to the village end. We did not find the road we drove from the village so we drove along another road. And here we got into such a swamp that we could not get out on our own; we had to ask for help. A man from a nearby house came to help us, and he said that even big trucks become stuck here…

So anyhow by joint efforts we got out on a dry road. Hospitable hosts of this house fed us and warmed us. And we are so grateful to them for this! People are kind and fair everywhere:)

And we went home happy and satisfied. That was our journey))

Now we have another site on our map.

P.S. If you also like to travel and know some place with clay, join our project. You are welcome!

And while that’s all. See you soon and success in pottery!

P.P.S. And if you also want to pay a visit to the village Sukhoy Karsun to extract clay, it is better to go back a little later, after the first frost, so as not to get stuck like us. And, as it turns out, there are a lot of holes, where to dig clay, and better to look like, where the clay is better yes cleaner. They say that somewhere there’s even a clay-like fireclay – with small stones – lying, probably))

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