Unplanned Forms

Today’s video looks at Hawaiian-born ceramist Toshiko Takaezu. Her work is simultaneously intimate and monumental, mostly employing hand-built methods of vessel making:

In the film, she says, “You make a piece that you don’t have planned…and then when you see it, something happens, and it looks as though you have to go into another direction because this thing happened.” 
The perl resides in being awake to see what the form awakens to.

In a lump of clay we believe we are shaping it, when in fact, it is shaping us.

Auguste Elder

Be alert to those emerging narratives swelling from the clay, and your intersection with it.

I was also surprised to see my college poetry professor Stephen Berg in this film. He lends beautiful insights into the relationship between timelessness and forms. 

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One also has to keep in mind that progress sometimes looks like mishaps, mistakes, faults, and disappointments. 

Auguste Elder

Mentioning this as I toss a new piece of mine into the recycling bin due to S-cracking: a hand-built pinch pot made at my home studio. How we respond to outcomes that differ from our expectations is at the heart of the pottery process, for as much as we shape the clay, it exponentially shapes us more so.

The first video I’d like to send you is a 16-minute glimpse into master ceramist Ken Matsuzaki’s process, from Japan:

You’ll notice a few things while watching him work:

-He spiral-wedges his initial ball of clay…this is helpful for working with larger amounts, and is a traditional way of wedging in parts of Asia and the west.

 -He’s “throwing off the hump,” meaning, he’s making a number of pieces from one large hump (mound) of clay…a method used by many studio/production potters to save time and effort.

-Asymmetry is treasured for its naturalness and surprises…just watch how he removes and places the first cup at 3:45 on the board.

 -Note the speed of his kick-wheel (non-electric).

-Note how little water he uses in the throwing of his pieces…and he’s not even wearing an apron! Very little mess indicates an economy of interaction with the material (plus years of experience).

 -For our lefties (hand orientation, that is), note which direction his wheel spins: traditional direction in Japan. His hand gestures reflect the direction of the wheel’s turn. 

Enjoy, and keep up the good work of making mistakes meaningful. 

Auguste Elder

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