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Taking a psychological and philosophical outlook, we approach making as an embodied and embedded skill via the skilled artisan’s experience of having a corporeal, nonlinguistic dialogue with the material while working with it. We investigate the dynamic relation between maker and material through the lens of pottery as illustrated by wheel throwing, claiming that the experience of dialogue signals an emotional involvement with clay. The examination of Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of habit, the skilled intentionality framework, and material engagement theory show that while these theories explain complementary aspects of skilful engagement with the material world, they do not consider the dialogic dimension. By way of explanation, we submit that the artisan’s emotional engagement with the material world is based in openness and recognition and involves dialogue with the material. Drawing on the intimate relationship between movement and emotion, it promotes an open-ended manner of working and permits experiencing with the material, acting into its inherent possibilities. In conclusion, we suggest that dialogue, whether verbal or nonverbal, constitutes a primary means for making sense of the world at large, animate and inanimate.
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