[Clayart] some old stories re/born
melpots at mail.com
Sat Sep 14 13:10:49 EDT 2019
there are many new clayarts that have no idea about this study/
sending most of my valued pots off to the AMOCA museum has been
a daunting and nostalgic time for me. however, there are pots and
pix that have inspired me to keep working and carry on a few traditions
that i started with some great folks.
the `hare's fur` project was an idea of joe koons, the glaze guru of
laguna clay company. he was brilliant. he died suddenly after the
project was completed.
he messed with the thousand year old idea for 50 years, came to me and
said...`please mel, see what you can do with firing this glaze...please.`
i did. it was completed using a very black, iron bearing clay, firing to cone 12+
and keeping the kiln in total oxidization. the originals were fired in a
huge dragon kiln...180 meters long, up a hill. the kiln did not have kiln
shelves, they were fired in individual saggers, stacked one of top of the other.
sealed in a sagger...like the ming dynesty celedons...they had no sign of
carbon, smoke or crap. clear, perfect pots. not `wood fire affect as we find
in most places in modern times..
i made over 300 pots with his glazes..rather solved the problem and the show
went to open AMOCA. (it was their first exhibit.) it was a smashing success..the show went to hong kong university
then to a gallery in Shanghai. the director of the `national museum of china` was at
the opening and went home with a blue crystal tea bowl. yes, he was thrilled. quote
`i am actually going to own a Yohen tea bowl.` it was thrilling for me. he sent me off
the next day to meet with the ceramic staff of the `national academy of science of china`, (18 PhD ceramic engineers. yes
the main science center. that too was amazing. `minnetonka?, minnesota? nordic man? where
did you come from???? it was real hare's fur, oil spot, partridge feather, horse tail. and even
the famous leaves fired on temmoku. (that was done by susan karrasch, a dear friend that we brought
to the project to have a woman with us. she had a very high temp electric kiln that she fired
to cone 12. several of her pots that did not fire to her specs, were refired in mel`s gas kiln and the blue crystals
appeared. that did throw us for a loop.
i made 7 of the blue crystal teabowls that were perfect yohen bowls. joe literally pee'd his pants.
he screamed and cried when he opened the box from me.
joe got two of the best bowls, pick of the litter.
po who was my benefactor on our trip to china got one.
the museum director got one
i had one...and two have filtered out into the world of clay...i think
nils had one. joe had them when he died.
the final bowl, from me, went to david armstrong the owner/director of amoca.
that was last week.
this story is not funny or a joke. it really happened, and was a huge success in china.
most Americans did not understand the significance of the study. some even poo/pooed it.
of course they were not with me the day the project was validated by the chinese. they
know what they know...their history...and ten of the pots are now in a glass case at
the kiln site on the min river.
so, saying all this...you can go to my index page/website/melpots.com and look at three of the tea bowls.
the blue crystal photo is the pot that belongs to the director of the chinese national museum.
there is a big black pot with oil spots. i photographed it as a black and white because
the digital pix showed too much blue saturation. there are a few more pix on the
over the years, the amoca museum has been selling well over 200 of the original
bowls that joe and i donated to them. i often wonder,`who has my pots from that study?`
so, over 60 years of mess/n, working, trying and failing, the success, fail again...but,
always working..never stop. i have over 50 bowls drying in my studio today. getting ready
to face the `SHINO BLUES`.
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