Thursday, December 11, 2008

Young Chicken Onggi

Yesterday we went to visit a former student of Mr. Oh's to pick up more of the amazing pink clay. Naomi has been making sculptures out of it and really loves it (stay tuned for PINK cows!).  Anyone who saw Mr. Oh's demonstrations in North Carolina remembers Hee Chang as his very hard-working assistant.  Now he has his own onggi studio where he makes a mixture of traditional onggi forms and contemporary work.  Hee Chang is a young potter with two even younger assistants.  We were excited to see some "youngye" (korean for "young chicken")learning some of the traditional onggi techniques.  Traditionally, onggi was made in large workshops that would best be described as "onggi factories."  Hee Chang works on a smaller scale, so we call his place an onggi "studio."  The bulk of onggi potter's work would be storage jars, although they also made other forms, such as the distilling pots, chimneys, large bowls four feet wide!), oil lamps, etc.  These more rare onggi forms have become popular for decoration.  Hee Chang makes mostly these kinds of forms now, as well as lids, which break more than jars, and thus are constantly needed at sauce factories.

Those of you who have seen onggi made before will know why these wheels are sunken in the ground... When the pot is being started, the potter kicks the fly-wheel under ground.  But as the pot becomes larger, the potter can stand on the floor and kick the wheel head itself to turn the pot. The risers you see on these wheels are used when making smaller pots, so the potter doesn't have to bend over so far.
Hee Chang built his studio with his father-in-law, who is a traditional carpenter.  It is a beautiful place, with lots of cool details, like this wall made of broken onggi pots.
Above are some examples of Onggi chimneys, which are now mainly used for decoration.


These are actually lids (three feet wide!) to replace broken lids on VERY large old onggi jars.
These pots are used to hold different sauces and condiments.  These would have been used to gather sauces from the outdoor "jar place" that until recently was ubiquitous in every korean household.  We'll probably devote an entire post to the "sauce jar place," or "chang tok' te."
More lids and "o tan jee."
Now, many Americans are very curious about this form.  Can you guess what it is?  It is the traditional soju distilling pot.  When Michael worked at Mr. Oh's factory in 2001, one of his first jobs was making about 100 of the phallic spouts.  FUN!


4 comments:

Shane Mickey said...

that studio is really beautiful! looks like alot of fun you two, love seeing it all, keep it up.

blaine and laura said...

thanks for all the great images--enjoy following your blog from seagrove...

Ron said...

those jars need some 8's painted on them

Mothra said...

That distilling pot totally reminds me of Svi's big pot from the concentration! If only he had added a dong on his.