Hi Everybody,

An interesting thing happened on the weekend. We presented a course where we did mosaics in the morning and an introduction to pottery in the afternoon. It was a great day, and everybody produced some wonderful work. However, one of our students was a geologist, who obviously had an in-depth knowledge about clay, which is always fascinating when you are a potter. Anyway, the first thing he did when he saw the clay, was to put a small piece in his mouth to taste it. He said it tasted minty! He explained that from a geologist perspective he was working out the moisture content and this tasting clay and licking rocks is a widespread practice with old school geologists. It is called the bite or grit test and is an especially useful method to identify the ‘grain size’ in sediments.

To identify grain-size in sediments, geologists found that the finer particles, like clay, will not grate between the teeth. If  dry lumps of soil stick to the tip of tongue, this means that there is clay in the soil. Another technique, used by adventure geologists, is the ‘lick test’, which is used to separate fossil bones from rocks, as a true fossil will stick to the tongue!

It is always interesting when you discover some new technique, and this has got to be one of the best. I don’t recommend putting clay in your mouth, in fact, it is something you have to stop babies from doing, if they get their hands on the stuff. However, if you’re into old school geology there may be no stopping you.

Bye for now



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