Barnacles

I suppose that, given when I am not thinking about ceramics, I tend to think a lot about sharp things on rocks which might damage me or my boat, Annika, my nights have been spent dreaming about barnacles this week.  This got me wondering about why any creature would chose to live in the kinds of inhospitable places that barnacles live.  Who would chose to spend their entire adult life fixed to one spot, either submerged by pounding salt water or sitting, hunkered down til the next tide comes in?  I wonder how much it has to do with barnacles being unable to fight off the competition for more comfortable homes and how much it has to do with being better adapted for life in such hostile places than any other creature.  Is there an optimum size for a barnacle colony?  Can one barnacle survive on its own as an adult for long or does it need the help and support of its neighbours?  In my semi awake state I started to wonder about how a baby barnacle decides to set up home in a particular spot.  What does ‘des res’ look like to a barnacle and what would happen if they refused to settle down and decided to remain as a swimming species for the rest of their lives – would this cut their lives very short?  What would they achieve that they could not have achieved fixed to some rock or the underneath of my boat?

You might think this is all completely irrelevant to a blog about ceramics but I don’t think so.  My ceramic pieces are different and fragile.  They are about exoskeletons and protection and, believe me, nothing needs protection more than a barnacle does!  So later this morning I reached for the only book to hand, in our rather basic accommodation in Cornwall, that had any hope of answering my questions and I discovered a number of extraordinary facts.  I am not sure that I am not now left with more questions than answers but I do wonder why barnacles feed through their bottoms!  I am curious about the fact that barnacle larvae are called nauplius and cypris.  Who thought those up!  Most interesting of all I discover that, even among barnacles there is competition;- You would not find B.baliniodes living alongside C.stallatus for example.  The C. Stellatus just won’t let poor old balinoides settle down on its patch.

It is good to know that while I am away from the studio, sailing to my heart’s content, I have not been letting my brain addle.  I feel a series of barnacle shaped ceramics coming on . . . .

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