The lives of humans have vastly changed over the last thousand years. Yet amidst the many advancements of our digitally driven world, clay remains a natural material of choice for myriad purposes. From a deep-cleansing exfoliant that improves the look and feel of skin to a medium for artwork and earthenware that lends timeless appeal, there’s much to love about this mineral-rich resource.
If you want to take all the goodness of a facial and extend it to the rest of your body, then a soothing clay bath is in order. Specifically, bentonite clay is widely touted for its ability to absorb and remove toxins, as well as heal skin conditions and fight inflammation. The use of this natural emollient, known as pelotherapy, has been in practice for centuries thanks to its many restorative properties. With Enviromedica’s Magnetic Clay Bath, you can soak up all the benefits of a mineral-rich bath in the privacy of your home. enviromedica.com
When thinking of clay sculptures, chances are the terracotta army of Qin Shi Huang, China’s first Emperor, comes to mind. With roughly 8,000 soldiers, it’s undoubtedly the grandest undertaking that you’ll see in this medium, though centuries later clay was a popular material for sculpting life-like busts during the Italian Renaissance. More recently, the California Clay Movement of the 1950s evoked newfound enthusiasm for the artform, led by such sculptors as Ron Nagle and Peter Voulkos. For private collectors interested in clay sculpture, Phillips is an authoritative destination for international buyers and sellers of twentieth century and contemporary pieces. phillips.com
When it comes to personal wellness, few treatments are as enduring as the clay mask. With an abundance of nourishing minerals, like silica, magnesium and iron, it’s a tried and true method for detoxifying the skin and cleansing your pores. Sound like therapeutic powers you would be interested in harnessing? The next time you’re in Manhattan, stop by The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, New York for the Rawceuticals Force of Nature Facial. Natural clays and cold-pressed botanical extracts are applied in this fabulous 50-minute treatment to leave skin glowing and improve tone and texture. mandarinoriental.com
When exposed to extreme heat, this mud-like substance is magically transformed into the hardened material known as ceramic, or terracotta (which literally translates to baked earth in Italian). Records suggest humans first utilized this process as early as 9,000 BC as a means of fashioning vessels to store food, however, these days, it’s an artisanal craft found the world over. If you covet the classic elegance of handmade ceramics in your home or garden, the works of Seibert & Rice are unsurpassed. Imported from Impruneta, Italy, an ancient Tuscan town with a terracotta tradition that dates back to the 14th century, their offerings range from antique collections to custom designs. seibert-rice.com