Since moving six years ago from his Aylesford studio to a small workspace in London, British potter Colin Pearson has, after 25 years of reduction firing, been making pots adapted for a small electric kiln.
Porcelain bottle, approximately 14 inches in height, with glaze, overglaze and luster decoration, by Japan’s “living national treasure,” Nodo Fujimoto. Not the stereotypical Japanese master, this artist explodes the myth that artists cannot be good at other, seemingly diverse careers while also maintaining a quality studio life.
Flattened, wheel-thrown stoneware bottle, 8.5 inches in height, with slip-filled rope impressions and glaze brushwork, by mingei (folk art) potter Tatsuzo Shimaoka of Japan.
Washington ceramist Anne Hirondelle works in a 10×14 foot studio efficiently equipped with an electric wheel, extruder, worktables, storage shelves and a wood stove. With a career that moved from production stoneware to raku-fired clay drawings to acrylic constructions, she has returned to making vessel-oriented stoneware.
Folk pottery is still being made all over the world. But because its spontaneity is often confused for crudeness, its function challenged by plastic, stainless and enameled ware, it’s slowly dying everywhere – from industrialized countries like Japan to Third World nations like Nigeria. Folk pottery (such as this bean pot, 8 inches in diameter, thrown from local earthenware, charcoal fired unglazed, by W. Hardin, Chalky Mountain, St. Andrew’s Parish, Barbados) is so closely tied to its social context as to be incomplete standing alone in some museum, or even on a magazine cover. This month we look intimately at one context of folk pottery (in Japan) with anthropologist Brian Moeran.
“Green Umbra,” approximately 4 feet in height, handbuilt low-fire buff clay, fired and painted with acrylics, by Beverly Mayeri.
Even from a distance you can smell the aroma of wood smoke as tall flames rise quietly from the flue of the 56-foot-long anagama (a Japanese-style tube kiln) at Peters Valley, a crafts community occupying land leased from the National Park Service. After the flame recedes, another load of split oak will be stoked. The cycles of stoking and waiting continued throughout the nearly five-day period in this kin’s first firing to be led by westerners.
“Personage 10,” handbuilt porcelain, 11.5 inches in height, by Gerda Gruber.
Wheel-thrown stoneware pitcher, 11 inches in height, with dipped and sprayed glazes, single fired to Cone 10 in a reducing atmosphere, by Steven Hill.
Detail of “Bad Manners,” a life-size installation sculpture by ceramist Marilyn Lysohir. Handbuilt food and flowers, thrown plates, cups, saucers and candlesticks were underglazed, clear glazed and fired to Cone 04 in an electric kiln. Figures were slab built, coated with colored terra sigillata, burnished and fired to Cone 04 in a gas kiln; chairs and table substructure are made of wood.