You learn a new respect for your materials when you engage in this process and a new humbleness for the generosity of the Earth who provides these materials freely. It is traditional to make an offering (corn pollen or corn meal) to thank the Earth for her kindness before beginning the gathering, to be careful in digging, to take only what you need and will use, to have as little impact on the land as possible, and to make a thanking offering again before leaving.
Like all pottery, clay is central to the process. But here we began by digging our own clay, cleaning it, grinding volcanic rock to temper it. The volcanic rock, it goes without saying, must also be gathered. The clay in New Mexico is often dry and must be dug out of the ground … with a pick axe. Not easy work.