Matt Seikel forages wild clay for his extra-earthy ceramics.
Ceramics artist Matt Seikel has a passion for process, and has long been intrigued by Seto Guro. Dating back to the 16th century, the ancient Japanese pottery practice involves crushing, mixing and firing raw elements to achieve a rich black color.
The process and combination of materials is mysterious — not fully outlined in the plethora of artist resources — so it’s no wonder that when Seikel spied a similar-looking black rock on the eight acres where he was living in Tesuque, New Mexico, he had to dig it up. He had to get his hands on it. He had to tinker.
“I smashed it and did some testing. Somehow it started working and I figured out some combos of wild materials, not only for wild clay but also wild glaze,” Seikel said.
The rewarding experience encouraged him to keep pulling what-could-be-clay from northern New Mexico and taking samples back to his studio for experimentation. As he followed his “gut feeling” about anomalies he noticed in the soil patterns to procure more samples, he would drop pins in Google Maps. That way, if he found a winner, he would know where to return for more.
“In New Mexico, you’ve got that kind of exposed [landscape]… You can see striations, you know, where they cut through a road or a river goes through somewhere, and I started taking rocks home.” Seikel said. “I have really enjoyed the experience of adding one more element for immersion into the [art]. It’s kind of like hunting and cooking; it’s a deeper connection.”
The Oklahoma native first studied ceramics at Classen School of Advanced Studies with Paul Sweeney. “Watching him do it on the wheel, I was like, ‘I have to do that,’” Seikel recalled.
After graduation, he studied in Chicago and then criss-crossed the United States, living in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Muscle Shoals, Alabama (for his music), before venturing to New Mexico. He moved back to Oklahoma City in 2021, bringing his ceramics business from Abiquiu, New Mexico, with him.
In addition to working with his wild clay and glazes to create highly textured pottery, Seikel enjoys partnering with interior designers on commissioned pieces, fashioning one-of-a-kind light fixtures — pendants, sconces and lamps — to suit one-of-a-kind designs.
Seikel continues to travel to and from New Mexico to forage materials regularly, which he says only enhances his appreciation of art processes and his attraction to “the physicality of clay.”
“It’s tactile, very therapeutic and satisfying,” he said, “and then [seeing] the finished pieces is definitely an attribute.”
GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY
Seikel Ceramics, located in Midtown at 813 N. Hudson Ave., is a studio, gallery and workshop open by appointment only. Matt Seikel teaches lessons and hosts small parties, but he doesn’t use wild clay for such events. Seikel says the texture is too rough and difficult to control (both shape and outcomes). While foraged clay presents a welcome challenge for him, it is not ideal for novice potters.
For more details, go to seikelceramics.com. To book a lesson or private event, contact Seikel at (405) 831-1673 or email@example.com.