The best word I can use to describe the soil of Tanzania is magical. The iron-rich red soil was unlike anything I had ever seen growing up in Northern Michigan, and it still has a power over me that I cannot seem to describe with words. Naturally occurring with the perfect percentage of clay, the soil is mixed with water and spread thick over a network of woven branches by the local Maasai women to build the walls of their homes. In my brief but unforgettable three weeks in rural Tanzania, we used the smooth red soil in the same ways as the Maasai, mixing it with cow manure and water to make an adobe mixture …to build fuel-efficient wood-burning cookstoves, designed with exhaust systems to remove smoke from the homes (and eyes and lungs) of the women.
I started IP this past fall not expecting to be influenced by my trip to Tanzania… but in my second semester started to experiment with terra cotta, an iron-rich red clay body with a distinct orange glow when fired.