2017

“The Lost Art of Celadon” – Creating the Sculpture

For those that follow my Hobby Potter video journal or through Facebook & Instagram, you’ll remember my excitement about creating a sculpture piece for the “Pacific Currents” exhibition at the Carnegie Arts Center in Turlock, CA. This juried show will be presented in conjunction with the Gordon Brodfuehrer Collection of Japanese Ceramics from October 18,2017 -January 21, 2018.  The final date for submission is tomorrow, and at the time of this blog the submissions have not been juried (so I don’t know if it’s even been accepted). My piece, “The Lost Art of Celadon – From Goryeo to Joseon”

Developing My Concept:

It would have been easy enough to just throw a tea bowl on the wheel and call it a day, but I really wanted to use this experience to “grow me” as an artist. This could only be done by creating a sculpture (and grow me it did!). Because I really wanted to explore the “perfectly imperfect”, I first went to what was “perfect” in historical Korean Celadon Pottery. No denying their development of celadon during the Goryeo Dynasty (913-1392) was the most notable ceramic related achievement. So this was something I wanted to incorporate into the sculpture. After doing some study on the history of celadon, I found that the art of creating the fine celadon pieces became a dying art at the dawn of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

 

Park Bo Gum playing a prince of Joseon

The Form – A “Gat”
I also wanted the sculpture to be unique, which means moving away from standards such as vases and other functional forms. Confession time,  I’m a closet K-drama watcher (South Korean dramas), the historical variety being some of my favorites! Their dramas host a beautiful variety of ceramics, but the form that caught my eye was actually the “Gat”, which is a hat worn during the Joseon Dynasty.  This was usually worn by middle class or married men to show their status (alternatively in K-drama’s the “disguised king”usually leaves his palace in one of these “gats” to roam freely among his people 😉

 

The Imagery – Irworobongdo

The inspiration for the designs came from the artwork found in the “Irworobongdo” . This is a six panel screen that sets behind the kings throne, showing 5 peaks and the representations of the King (sun) and Queen (moon). If I could bring this element into my piece, it would be perfect for pulling together the whole concept of the lost art of celadon and the changing of the two dynasties.

The Symbolic Plan:  To cover the (Joseon) “gat” with a smooth coat of (Goryeo) celadon, using the imagery of the Irworobongdo (to represent the changing of the two dynasties). Antique it with India ink and draw attention to the small cracks that usually develop in the celadon.

 

Here is the “Making of” Video

 

Journal Notes on Making the Sculpture & The Take Away

This was a personal growth journey for me, in technique and also in dealing with the elements.

The most enjoyable? 
Creating the Irworobongdo imagery! I did it all in one sitting …and could have sat there for hours creating that landscape, it was so relaxing.

Biggest concern I didn’t need to worry about?
Cracking. It was challenging keeping everything drying slowly in 107-110 degree weather to avoid issues (we wanted no cracking, warping or detachment)!  No matter how much I reassured myself I did all the steps properly, I kept worrying it would crack while drying, or bisque firing, or glaze firing. End result …100% passed without a single crack!

Biggest mishap? The celadon.  I should have known better, the True Celadon is the most unstable, finicky glaze I own (Amaco realized this and has since created a more user friendly version of celadon). The final kiln result (at first) was very disheartening. The glaze came out blotchy and dripping…not what I was hoping for. Since I was planning to use the India ink on the cracks, I decided to apply it more liberally on the lighter portions of the piece to antique those areas and make it look aged.

The biggest mishap was the biggest blessing! Since the main concept of the piece was to show the lost art of celadon, with the relationship of this loss and the two dynasties, it seemed more appropriate for the celadon NOT to be perfect! It’s imperfections became it’s biggest voice, and the defining, most obvious part of the piece. The art of celadon was LOST…and on this piece it really shows!

When all is said and done, I ADORE this sculpture! It started out as a fun project and became so much more. I didn’t write all the perspectives I pondered while creating this piece, but I hope that people can look at it from their own perspective. Whether this sculpture gets accepted or not has really become irrelevant. It’s now a landmark in my journey in clay, with many lessons learned…and with that…until next time!

Thanks for being here & God Bless!

Tammy Jo 

 

 

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