After a particularly wet week I noticed a fine creamy silt collecting in puddles, and recognized it as clay. Shale, I learned, makes excellent clay, and fires into an especially resilient ceramic. Common uses include exterior tile and brick.
Though I'm a resident of Pennsylvania, it wasn't until I started working on a curatorial project in Sullivan County, NY that I learned about the practice of fracking. It wasn't clear what type of shale we were walking on and passing by regularly, and it was impossible to not wonder: is that the Marcellus? What is this stuff? Could it be made into a clay? Is it safe to be near or handle? If it could be made into a ceramic product, how would I know if it was safe - especially foodsafe?
This site documents the experiments, information, stories and lessons I've learned through an ongoing investigation into the use of Marcellus Shale as a material.