Thoughts from Stephen

Stephen Jepson’s number 1 rule of clay

Work with the clay being as soft as it can possibly be and still yield the results you desireIn 1965 as a student at the University of Iowa I took a beginning course in pottery. I was 24 years old. I had spent much of the previous 2 years pumping iron at a local gym in Sioux City, Iowa. I was in extremely good physical shape. I could do 100 push-ups, 29 pull-ups, 30 push-ups with my right arm, 15 with my left, and on and on. And this is probably the reason that I learned to make pottery; because I was so relatively strong. Because the clay I was given to work with in the beginning was dry and very stiff . Stiff hard clay along with “centering anxiety”––which was instilled in everybody I knew, made learning to throw quite difficult. That’s how I remember it. So when I teach pottery clay the is very the soft; the students can feel and see the results of their hand pressures on the clay quite easily. The clay is experienced as a semi-fluid responsive medium. It is fun to throw with soft clay. It’s also much easier on your body. You don’t have to exert so much force. Soft clay people. This one concept has made working in clay a lot easier for me.