The Law of Clay – understanding the relationship between the potter and clay


Mr Mohammed-Amin Salifu Adam in action, 2020

The ACIG team, on 12th of May, 2020 met Mr Mohammed-Amin Salifu Adam, a lecturer and potter from the Tamale Technical University. Mr Adam gave an eloquent account of the relationship between the potter and the clay as follows:


The clay is loyal and takes instructions from the potter. Thus, the potter can press, twist, roll and pull the clay to form a variety of shapes and forms. That the clay will humbly obey until the potter is satisfied with the final design.


The potter on the other hand has to also give the clay its due as this is the only way the clay will obey the potter. For instance, the potter ought to knead the clay to perfect plasticity in order to take any form without much stress. The potter also has to be patient and not work with the clay when it is too wet, but rather has to wait until the moisture in the clay is suitable enough to work with. Throwing on the other hand will not be possible if the clay is too hard.

During the earlier stages when the clay has been harvested, the potter must dry the clay to crisp, pound to a fine powdered state and sieve before soaking it in water.


An awesome work from Mr. Adam, 2020

Finally, the produced wares must be pre-heated, semi blastered before fully blasting with fire. The potter has to obey the clay at every stage. The potter must pay attention to the temperature during firing and regulate it at required stages in order to achieve a perfect firing. Also cooling after firing must be done slowly in other to avoid cracks as a result of sudden temperature changes.

Another awesome work from Mr. Adam, 2020

Mr. Amin concluded that, the clay will remain loyal and obey the potter as long as the potter fulfils all of the rights due to the clay. The ACIG team refer to this ‘loyal’ and ‘rights’ statement as the LAW OF CLAY!


By Rufai Haruna Kilu, Mohammed-Aminu Sanda & Ama Affun


Photos provided by Mohammed Salifu Amin Adam