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One hundred and eight.

Prologue

As a result of the last year's Covid restrictions I have found myself even more drawn to the local landscape, connecting with the surrounding nature and going deeper within my spiritual self.

There wasn't much time for making in the usual way due to my family commitments but this eventually transcended beautifully into a slower pace of making, allowing me to play with materials available on the doorstep. The final results were not the aim, it was the process which ultimately mattered the most.

One hundred and eight

One hundred and eight offering bowls project (as the number of Mala prayer beads used in Buddhist, Hindu and Yogic traditions) explores the making process as a meditation in repetition of form. The repetition not meaning creating identical pieces but approached playfully, resulting in each bowl being an individual piece.

 

The bowls are inspired by traditional Korean punch'ong (buncheong) pottery and Japanese kohiki ware.

This decoration technique originates in Korea and consists of using local iron rich dark clay body with white clay slip applied on the pot surface. This technique was used to imitate Chinese porcelain with materials available to Korean potters. The resulting effect wasn't pure white, the white slip appeared like a light grey veil with some clay impurities leaching to the surface and often visible brush marks.

These bowls were discovered and highly appreciated by Japanese tea masters who used them in tea ceremonies. The technique was then adopted by Japanese potters especially focusing on the brush mark effect. The slip application with hakeme brush invites to repeat movement which shows under the glaze.

I have been exploring this technique with various white slip recipes and experimenting with brushes for different textures.

The offering bowls were made with local Preseli clay, dug and processed by students of Coleg Plas Dwbl, young adults with learning difficulties, who participate at crafts and land-based skills as work experience.

The project also reflects on the relationship between people and the natural environment focusing on the mental health benefits of making and processing natural materials.

At the end is the ritual of wood firing. Each pot is a prayer, the kiln is a shrine. Thoughts, feelings, emotions and perceptions of the creator, the person who collected the clay or any others involved in the process burn away. Purification through the fire, transformation of clay and water into a permanent form.

Epilogue: Coming full circle

The finished bowls were placed in the ancient Gors Fawr stone circle near Plas Dwbl where the clay was dug from the ground.