I talk a lot about the process of exploring and discovering in my work. Indeed, my MFA Thesis Show was all about giving a full context of how I go about adventuring, prospecting, developing, and ultimately making pots from the stuff I find.
I love the idea of being an alchemist – and I describe myself as someone who uses mineralogy, chemistry, and fire to forge beautiful objects and glazes. But I have to admit that more than anything, discovering the really compelling stuff is mostly a matter of luck, circumstance, and time. It’s very labor intensive, and I’d guess that for every 10 rocks I bring into the studio, it’s usually only one or two that have any real practical value in my work. I suppose that given enough time and enough firings, one could utilize just about anything under the sun… but in the real world there’s just never enough time – or test tiles!
Collected and Melted Materials from near Red Lodge, MT
Imagine a sand pit getting hit directly with a gigantic-ass meteorite. Then imagine green glass gemstones raining back down amidst all the other debris. Similar to Fulgurite in some respects (Sand getting turned instantly into glass) Moldavite is the result of instant metamorphosis due to a crazy impact. They’re also quite beautiful to look at.
Moldavite (Czech: Vltavín) is an olive-green or dull greenish vitreous substance possibly formed by a meteorite impact. It is one kind of tektite. They were introduced to the scientific public for the first time in 1786 as “chrysolites” from Týn nad Vltavou in a lecture by professor Josef Mayer of Prague University, read at a meeting of the Bohemian Scientific Society (Mayer 1788). Zippe (1836) first used the term “moldavite” derived from the town of Moldauthein (Czech: Týn nad Vltavou) in Bohemia (the Czech Republic), from where the first described pieces came from.
Moldavite’s bottle-green glass colour led to its being commonly called Bouteillen-stein, and at one time it was regarded as an artificial product, but this view is opposed to the fact that no remains of glassworks are found in the neighbourhood of its occurrence; moreover, pieces of the substance are widely distributed in Middle to Upper Miocene and younger fluvialclays and gravellysands in Bohemia and Moravia.
In 1900, F. E. Suess pointed out that the gravel-size moldavites exhibited curious pittings and wrinkles on the surface, which could not be due to the action of water, but resembled the characteristic markings on many meteorites. Boldly attributing the material to a cosmic origin, he regarded moldavites as a special type of meteorite for which he proposed the name of tektite. However, for a long time, it was generally believed to be a variety of obsidian. Because of their difficult fusibility, extremely low water content, and its chemical composition, the current overwhelming consensus among earth scientists is that moldavites were formed 15 million years ago during the impact of a giant meteorite in present-day Nördlinger Ries. Splatters of material that was melted by the impact cooled while they were actually airborne and most fell in central Bohemia—traversed by Vltava river (German: Moldau). Currently, moldavites have been found in area that includes southern Bohemia, western Moravia, the Cheb Basin (northwest Bohemia), Lusatia (Germany), and Waldviertel (Austria).Isotope analysis of samples of moldavites have shown a beryllium-10 isotope composition similar to the composition of Australasian tektites (Australites)and Ivory Coast tektites (Ivorites). Their similarity in beryllium-10 isotope composition indicates that moldavites, Australites, and Ivorites consist of near surface and loosely consolidated terrestrial sediments melted by hypervelocity impacts.
99 % of all moldavite finds have provided the South Bohemian localities, 1% were found in South Moravian localities. Only tens of pieces were found in the Lusatian area (near Dresden), Cheb basin area (West Bohemia) and Northern Austria (near Radessen). Principal occurrences of moldavites in Bohemia are associated with Tertiary sediments of the České Budějovice and Třeboň Basins. The most prominent localities are concentrated in a NW-SE strip along the western margin of the České Budějovice Basin. Majority of these occurrences are bound to the Vrábče Member and Koroseky Sandy Gravel. Prominent localities in the Třeboň Basin are bound to gravels and sands of the Domanín Formation. In Moravia, moldavite occurrences are restricted to an area roughly bounded by the towns of Třebíč, Znojmo and Brno. Taking into account the number of pieces found, Moravian localities are considerably less productive than the Bohemian ones; however, the average weight of the moldavites found is much higher. The oldest (primary) moldavite-bearing sediments lie between Slavice and Třebíč. Majority of other localities in southern Moravia are associated with sediments of Miocene as well as Pleistocene rivers that flowed across this area more or less to the southeast, similar to the present streams of Jihlava, Oslava a Jevišovka.