Monday, December 29, 2008

Reality Check

Mr. Oh has been making tons of these small size onggis, Michael has been doing a slab-a-thon and making some slightly bigger onggis, and Naomi is carving up a storm.  Meanwhile, yesterday we finally did that thing that always strikes fear in a potter's heart: looked at the calendar (maybe it wouldn't strike so much fear if we didn't wait so long to do it!)  It may not be that legible, but needless to say, even for Michael and I (those who have helped us fire will attest) this is an insane schedule. For example, on Sunday we are planning on unloading the bisque, glazing the pots, loading and firing the kiln.  We don't usually bisque at home, so this adds another step, but on the other hand, since we're firing a gas kiln, the actual firing part is not so energy consuming. Mr. Oh  says "don't worry - no problem!" so we're not going to.
So here's a little slide show of Mr. Oh making the smaller onggis.  These jars would traditionally be used for fermenting smaller quantities of special fish and say bean paste.  Some people now use this size jar as water jars next to their tea tables.  This is about the smallest size you can make using the paddle and anvil technique, and Mr. Oh has often made jars up to five or six feet tall.  He made forty of these (with lots of interruptions) in two days.  Click here to see another slide show of making a medium size onggi.  First Mr. Oh throws out a slab.  Using coils to build larger jars is common around the world, but the slab technique is unique to the Cholla province in South Korea.  The first part of making the slab involves tossing it back and forth on the floor to lengthen it.
To lengthen the slab even more, you do a crazy flip move in the air.  Making the slab in this way strengthens and compresses the clay.  It is important to get the slab perfectly even, or else the wall of the pot will have a thin place and get off center later in the process.
This slab is formed into a cylinder on top of a pancake that is the bottom of the pot, and joined at the side and bottom.
Then the paddling begins!
In this technique, no water is used until the very rim, and you can leave the paddle texture on the pot.  Here Mr. Oh is using a rib to smooth out the form, and finish the shaping.
Then he uses a quilted cloth and a little water to shape the rim.
Here he is incising lines to determine where he will add a ridge on the pot.
He uses a very soft and small coil, and smears a ridge of clay through his fingers on to the pot.
Mr. Oh is experimenting with making these jars in his own new style, so he has also been scratching decorations on the pots, in addition to the traditional finger wipes through the glaze.  The picture at the top of the blog is a finished fired jar of this kind.  Well, we have to scram, and now you'll know what we're doing if you don't hear from us in a while!

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