THE CLAY FOREST. A collection of ceramic, painted, sculpted and written works of Cary Lane. 2022 Dakota Arts Gallery, Bellingham Washington.

In the spirit of Charles DeLint's words, "touch magic, pass it on", I hope my time in the realm of makers and poets, where I forge a bit of myself to the great body of collective work, is carried to you upon a cup, upon a bowl, upon a bit of paper and a clay gemstone. May whatever it stirs in you be passed on down the line.



 Moss. A family that needs time. That needs small steady sanctuaries of water, rock and tree. Moss is not a clan of clear straight lines thundering across open lands. Moss is weaving up and over and into the glade. Winding between chestnut and wild rose. Stepping over creeks to settle, to settle into the family of frog song, deer passage, sun dappled afternoons. Moss, carpeting the rooms of dryads. Moss, catching diamond droplets and turning them emerald as the naiads come and go from their quiet pools.



Spark magic is one of stoking and forging, of growing bright with the work. Making hot bits of potential arch far and wide.

We are sparks after all. Small, necessary bits of warmth and color.


1. We entered the clay forest. Not by a trail, but rather by a slipstream of water and roses. some force was ahead of us, and she was magnificent. She was pausing, spoon so close, to savor. She was putting match to wick. We were pulled int a wide, ample time and space. There was a lot of savoring. There was so much light. The field tent was home base, and putting our pens to paper was the journey. This was not a house of manners. This was a world of sparks. And I was learning that I have a book, a map, a recipe, a belief system to write in my own hand. And it is written by the spoonful, burnished wood gleaming as it catches the light.


2. The earthen valleys of the clay forest spilled out into a generous current. A universal river of work from nature and stories, from makers and poets. Each of us adding to, and refilling our cups, from this wellspring of ideas, color, line and words. Just as the Nile leaves behind the riches of silt, we leave behind riches of inspiration. Ingredients for every heart, every hand.

3. Here in the clay forest, the dictionary is written in the language of eons. By a push and a pull. By salt. By unfurling. By a bit of rain and a turning. There are words of belonging that have been housed in seeds and stones, in bowls and birds, in mothers and stars. The words talk of rising with the sun, and being made by the day. By billions of days. They speak of souls, and whatever star lit swamp they arose from.

4. A pen can be known to sing when it has hold of a thought that takes you directly to a field. The archetypes are playing backyard summer games. Badminton and bocci ball. Hero and sage. Croquet and kick-the-can. Goddess and trickster. Always ready to carry on an age old conversation with each human heart that has a question and finds a way to ask it. Turn over stones, wade in tide pools. Anticipate the hopeful snap of a fortune cookie. Settle in for a bedtime story, putting on your coat as you head out to walk amongst dragons and mothers and queens.


We turn coconuts into cakes, brass into trumpets, pigment and linseed into pastoral landscapes. Natural ingredients, mixed with a bit of soul, broaden the human experience. We turn trees into homes, wool into sweaters, gardens into dinner. We live in an era of great comfort. But the natural world is more than a generous, well stocked cupboard for our human endeavors. It is what we are, and the day calls for us to put ourselves back into the story of nature. To assist the eon tuned workings of life. To protect and enter cathedrals of earthen floors, fir scented walls, star lit ceilings, as often as we can.