Earth Craft: Ceramics

A comprehensive exploration of ceramics, pushing boundaries through innovative techniques and materials to redefine traditional processes and introduce new perspectives on cultural heritage.

Over 13 weeks of an intensive project emphasized the value of investigative inquiry over the final product resulting in qualitative and quantitative outcomes and fostering a dialogue with both team members and the kiln. The project involved collaboration between Japanese-born and Korean-born designers, each contributing distinct yet similar perspectives. Motivated by a personal drive to thoroughly explore the process, the project disregarded tools and preconceived rules.

Earth Craft: Ceramics’ essence lies in steering a comprehensive process, encompassing the recruitment of mentors and partners, as well as resource procurement. Driven by curiosity, the initiative conducted rigorous research, identifying opportunities and analyzing failures to uncover viable solutions. The successful collaboration between an analytical organized approach and a hands-on, sensory perspective led to the creation of over 500 prototypes, highlighting the project's dedication to exploration and iterative development.

This effort culminated in three distinct material narratives: 1. Appreciation for raw beauty 2. Discovery of responsive bodies 3. Reinvent a new tradition.

Appreciation for raw beauty

The inherent strength of ceramic clay, fortified by the presence of glass (silica), captivates our fascination. Unseen yet essential, the glass within prevents the ceramic piece from disintegration after firing. This contemplation raises questions about the devaluation of the unseen and the perception of waste based on visibility. Our narrative unfolds with the beauty found in discarded broken glass and the embrace of creative reuse. At the heart of this exploration is UpCycling – the transformative process that turns by-products, waste materials, and unwanted items into new materials or products of superior quality. Focusing on redefining perceptions of waste glass material, including items like Coca-Cola bottles and broken automobile windshields, our efforts resulted in three distinct outcomes. These include the fusion of glass and clay into a cohesive body, the exploration of gravity and dripping, and the alteration of visual states between liquid and solid.

Discovery of responsive bodies

Appreciation for the distinctive "memory of touch" inherent in ceramics shapes our approach. Trial results emerge with unavoidable honesty and transparency, influencing a newfound respect for clay as an individual, responsive entity. In navigating the limitations of kiln materials, a discovery unfolded – a means to preserve the natural outcomes, capturing the evolving moments shaped by air and time on clay. Our explorations with clay, coconut fiber cups, and freezing unveiled the unique responses ceramics exhibit to natural forces such as air, temperature, and pressure.

Reinvent a new tradition

From the onset of this exploration, a strong desire to redefine ceramic craft propelled our journey. Choosing Nerikomi, a traditional Japanese decorative ceramic process, aimed at uncovering a "fresh perspective on their cultural ceramic heritage." This technique, deeply rooted in tradition, enables artists to design dimensional patterns by blending and layering various colors of clay. Taking the literal translation of Nerikomi, "to mix," we introduced an organic material from everyday life: rice. This addition served not only to create visual texture but also offered a new tactile experience. The outcomes presented a subtle allure to the touch and an unexpected physical lightness. Despite a dedicated trial and error approach in searching for the right organic formula, we are still in the process of exploring applications for this new rice "mix" to unlock the potential of contemporary ceramic craft.

A comprehensive project walkthrough of the creative process is available upon request. Welcome a creative collaboration and commissioned project.

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