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About this exhibition
This exhibition covers works I've done over the past two years, while in Denmark. They include both high-fired stoneware and porcelain pieces as well as some rakuware. All were made using the facilities of Kvisten, a community house on Gartnergade 15 in Nørrebro.
To the right are photos of some of the pieces shown at the exhibition (click on the images to enlarge). More images may be found in this gallery.
Most of the pieces I make are functional - kitchenware and vases. Those are all high-fired (cone-8, or 1260°) stoneware and some are porcelain. At this temperature the clay vitrifies (fuses) so it is not permeable and will hold liquid. The glazes I use do not contain lead and are not poisonous.
Yet there are some other pieces that are decorative in nature (vases/bottles), which are fired in a raku kiln. They are fired to a much lower temperature (around 1000°), and are permeable to water.
A common feature in my pieces are the clean, elegant lines. Some attribute this to the scientist in me that needs everything to be straight and well defined. There may be some truth to that, but for me those forms arise naturally in the working process, where one starts with a lump of clay and centers it to a near-perfect ball. After that, as we turn this ball of clay into a cup, a vase, or something else we try to keep it circular countering its natural tendency to deform and collapse.
This is what potters do, taking the soft material and forming a tall, thin structure of it. At the end I may deform it again, but for me a successful piece is one where I am able to give the clay smooth round lines.
For example, the two leftmost espresso cups are very geometrical, some may say that they are more natural forms for other materials like metal or plastic. But because this is somewhat "unnatural" for clay, I see it as a success. Most of the other cups have different dents in them, those are also quite geometrical and were all done as the last step of work on the wheel and one can still see the clean circular form hiding behind them.
To the right I show two pictures of candleholders. The one that looks like a golf-ball is meant to hold a tea-candle. It is made of porcelain and is translucent so the candle makes the entire piece glow. The pair below is fired in a raku kiln. The different colors all derive from the same glaze, which includes copper. In parts the copper turns metalic, while in other parts the copper oxidized, hence the turquoise color.
As opposed to the very clean lines that I employ in the form, I generally let the glaze be very free and natural. White, gray, brown, blue and green are very common shades of ceramic works that derive from the color of the clay and common minerals: iron, cobalt, copper and others. I like to let the glazes express themselves on the pieces and rarely decorate with underglazes, stains and such.
So when applying the glazes I tend to pour them, not spray. I don't necessarily try to get a completely uniform cover and enjoy glazes whose shades vary with thickness (as in the bowls above and the dented brown vase).
Part of the reason I am attracted to raku firing, despite my inclination towards functional pieces, is the amazing effects in the glaze: The cracks in the white glaze that happen upon cooling as the glaze shrinks just a bit faster than the body of the pot; the different shades one gets depending on the amount of oxygen attached to the copper as in the candlesticks, or even more pronounced in the vase at the bottom.
The other reason for doing raku is the fun involved in the process. As opposed to stoneware firing, where the pieces are put in the kiln and two days later, after being fired and having cooled are removed, raku is done outdoors. The pieces are heated up very quickly in a small kiln, removed while they are still glowing hot and dumped into buckets with flammable material. It takes about an hour from beginning to end and in addition to the exciting process and possibly the sun on a nice Danish summer afternoon we get immediate gratification.
As you scroll down the page you will see a few more of my pieces, vases in both stoneware and raku. Some more photos of recent pieces that will be in the exhibition are collected on this page. For more photos you can explore my other galleries.
During the past six years, apart from my work on string theory I've also been spending some time doing pottery. Here in Copenhagen I use the ceramics studio at the community house Kvisten.
I started doing pottery in 1999 at the recreation center of the University of California in Santa Barbara. My teachers there were Troy Schmidt and Dane Venaas. I also was a year at the ceramics studio of the Monrovia adult education program with John Riccio. Between 2001 and 2003 I was in Israel and worked in the studio of Doron Jacoby (see also here) and with Amiram Khen.
If you are not familiar with the pottery terms I mention, you can look at the article on the subject in wikipedia
I would like to thank Wiebke Kircheisen for helping me organize this catalogue.