Story of the teapot lady.


“How long have you been doing pottery?”

This is one of those questions that I get asked often…along with “how did you get started?”,  “how long did it take you to make this piece?” and “are you Japanese or Chinese?”

I am Korean-American. Korean by ethnic heritage and American by citizenship. Does this have anything to do with my pottery? Maybe my Asian heritage has everything to do with who I am and how my work has evolved.

I knew at the age of seven, with pride at my first blue ribbon on my drawing at school, that I would be an artist. It was either that or an airline stewardess—it was glamorous back then. My father persuaded against being a stewardess—not a career path for a daughter of an elite family. I figured I was too short to reach the overhead compartment anyway. He sold me on studying art in Paris. We moved to US when I was nine, and 10 years later, my parents divorced during my freshman year in college. My mom, who gave up her dance career to get married and raise a family—like women of proper breeding are expected to do in Korea—remarried so that she could send her four kids to college. I wanted independence and a real career. I switched from Fine Arts: Textiles and Ceramics to Visual Communication—Graphic Design. Somewhere along the way of climbing the corporate ladder in Marketing and Advertising, I stopped being an artist.

I touched clay for the first time in high school in 1982 but didn’t make my first teapot until 27 years later in 2009. I struggled to conceive, construct, and craft this teapot so much that in defeat, I swore that I would never ever make another teapot,… ever again.
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That failed teapot haunted me for over a year. We all have to start somewhere! I started making teapots again. I explored different body forms, handles, and lids. And I struggled through the engineering of what makes a teapot a teapot. Did you know that the placement of the spout’s tip is determined by the water level in the body? Or that it takes care to ensure the glaze doesn’t fill in the strainer holes? Or that the handle has to be long enough so that the lid has space lift out comfortably? Or that carefully cleaning the glaze off of the gallery helps the lid not stick to the body? The list of failures/learnings still continue. But with each series, I can point to more successes than losses.

In 2012, my husband and I moved our family to the Bay Area, found OVCAG, and I participated in my first Art In Clay where I showed work produced in Chicago and realized that the eye for pottery on the west coast is different than in the midwest. Colors were brighter, surface decoration and texture more vibrant and alive. I think the same can be said of the area in general. But more than the natural environment, I was hit with a cultural shock I haven’t felt until this move. What I am used to is anxiously walking through a diner in my husband’s home town in rural Illinois, where every head turns to stare as if Asians are aliens from outer space. Even my white husband couldn’t shield the blinking neon arrows pointed at my whole being. In the bay area, my Asian-ness is a non-event. Even my bi-racial marriage seemed the norm, maybe even hip.

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Asian influences found their way into my work… maybe they were there all along. I was fortunate to be able to stop working full-time to focus on pottery. Now with more free time, internet access opened my eyes to the inspiration I needed to focus my vision and work towards finding my voice. Traditional forms with contemporary interpretations appealed to me the most. Sensual lines that hint at volume, yet weightlessness, at the same time. Who’d have thought that a vessel could be so sexy! Naturally, when I was invited to wood fire with Phil Park at Spring Valley Anagama, I jumped into the fire with both feet. Sexy and HOT! I think potters have a bit of Pyro tendencies! While forced heat scares me (propane and gas kilns), wood kiln-firing and pit-firing is like sitting around a camp fire. Mesmerizing and energizing at the same time. My two season wood-firing experience only scratched the surface of its potential for me. I look at it as a gift from the kiln. I’m still learning to read the fire and listen for the roar.

I’m not sure that I’ve found that definitive voice in my work, but when I’m introduced to new friends, my teapots seem to be the focus of attention. I enjoy making teapots now. Can’t say that I have the magic formula for the pourfect spout. I’m advancing but still exploring the many facets of the teapot’s purpose and story.

So, how long does it take to make a teapot? Don’t know yet. Still working on it.

Am I there yet?


Sometimes, my life feels like a super drama. Pick a daytime soap and drop me in. Ha! There might even be an evil twin who was abducted by aliens…you never know. In real life, I have it good. No, I have it better than most. Is it ideal? Maybe not, but seriously, who’s is? And isn’t one’s ideal, another’s discontent?

The masks we wear everyday get old and tired. We hide behind makeup, smiles and curtain of emotional shields hoping it will protects us from what scares us. But it’s our own insecurity that we can’t face head on. Looking for reassurance, acceptance and approval.

We define ourselves by our environment and circumstances. But when we create the identity lead by our heart and passion, our true self is realized. Am I there yet? No. Will I get there? I hope so.

As my day come to a close, I reflect on how I spent my hours and minutes that get me to the midnight lights out for the sleep that had been calling for me. Being a mom, wife, grand mother and a studio assistant keeps me busy.  And on occasion, I am reminded that I’m a potter too. The day is done, but I am acutely aware that too many things are left undone.

Maybe tomorrow I will get the slurry of clay between my fingers and feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in my hearts passion.

Because today, I am left undone.

Soda Fired Teapot, March '16
Soda Fired Teapot, February ’16

Let’s finish on a positive note…

I am pleased to announce that I have been accepted in to Two exhibitions that open next month:

– Purposeful Pottery presented by Blue Line Arts at the WestPark Workshop Gallery, 405 Vernon St. #100, Roseville, CA
Dates: April 16 – May 14, 2016
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Sun City Lincoln Hills Exhibition in conjunction with America’s ClayFestIV at Orchard Creek Lodge, 965 Orchard Creek Lane, Lincoln, CA
Dates: April 16 – May 14, 2016
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Fresh from the wood fire kiln 2016.


2 months into the year and I’ve participated in 3 wood firings, and one more coming up next week! It’s a lot of work, but the little pyro in me is loving every ache and sleepless nights when I get teapots that look like these!

I think I’m getting the hang of what to expect–at least what to look for–out of the wood kiln and more specifically from the soda and salt firings. The teapot forms have been refined to take advantage of the movements of the flame and to allow for the ash and glaze to enhance surface effects. These 7 teapots survived in its whole without much touch up post firing. Credit to good wadding placement and key positioning in the kiln.

Several of these teapots show signs of heavy body reduction early in the firing. While this is not usually desirable and could cause carbon coring, there doesn’t seem to be any bad results from it. It really highlights the textures and coil details very well. You can tell which have the heavy body reduction by the “smokey” coloring—that’s the carbon trapped in the body of the clay under the ash/soda glaze.

You will find some of these teapots in a new exhibition that I am part of at The Main Gallery in Redwood City titled “Stories: Selected Works by the Orchard Valley Ceramic Arts Guild”. Exhibition opens on February 24th and runs through April 3rd, 2016. Artist Reception is held on Saturday 27th from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm. If you are in town and can make the reception, please join me at the after party gathering at Milagros Restaurant across the street immediately after the gallery closes. Public parking can be found at the Redwood City Library adjacent to the gallery.

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I do Pots…


Yes, I do pots…and bowls and cups and trays and…

At the beginning of this year, I found myself exhausted from last year’s activities, trying too much too soon. A quick review found that I…
– juried and accepted into to ACGA-Association of Clay and Glass Artist of California
– 8 show/sales including the San Carlos Art & Wine Fair
– juried into 4 local exhibitions

So this year, I put the emergency breaks on and focus my attention to fine tuning my direction—asking myself “what makes my work unique and special”.

My son explained to the mothers of his friends that I stayed at home and “just do pots.” While this brought amusement and curiosity to the mothers, I wanted to be more than just “doing pots”.

This post is an unveiling for the fall/winter show season with what I have been working on to expand the offering and increase inventory. I featured a few samples this summer at the Palo Alto Clay and Glass Festival and it was well received. Since then, I’ve added more colors and refined the details.
Price point: $15 – $60

Complete offering will be shown at upcoming shows this month and November:
– Saturday, Oct. 24th. A Fair of the Arts. Notre Dame HS., San Jose, CA
– Sat.&Sun. Nov. 14-15, Art in Clay, Lucie Stern Community Center, Palo Alto, CA
Please see Events section for other listings to finish out the year.

PS. It’s time to start thinking about holiday gifts. Contact me for special orders.

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Large Tray: Flambe
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Stacking Trays: Flambe $20, $30, $50
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Tumblers: Vegas Red $20 ea.
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Tumblers: Hamada $20 ea.
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Medium Tray: Flambe $40
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Medium Bowl: Hamada/Amber Tea Dust $45
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Mugs: Hamada/Amber Tea Dust $30
MiniTrays
Mini Trays: Vegas Red $15-$25 Spoons in Various Sizes and Colors: $8-$15

It’s Just Clay …and upcoming show update.


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Palo Alto Clay and Glass Festival was just a few weeks ago and my expectations were high with a big effort on not feeling overwhelmed. I didn’t score on the highest rating on either but had a great time! Many friends came out to see me and to congratulate me. Many visitors stopped by to give me an ego boost. And then there was the one customer who left me with a story that provided hours of laughter with friends and colleagues.

Every show offers me something to take away. Sometimes it’s wisdom, sometimes it’s a lesson learned. And then there is the “did that really happen” moment, and it usually goes something like… “how long does it take for you to make that?” (trying to assess hourly wage?),  “How much?!!!” (much more that what they think it’s worth), and of course all artist favorite, “will you take (what little I want to pay you for it and like it) $xx?” and not to forget the all time stinger… “I can get this at (Bargain Retailer) for $5!”.

But this time I got a new one…”It’s just clay right?”.

One can search any of the search engines to find pricing strategies of other artists and craftspeople and you would find everything from the minutia of detail accounting of each and every step taken to produce the one $25 mug to the philosophical rationale on why one little teacup is worth $1000.

So I won’t go into the detail of how I arrive at my pricing strategy nor the full conversation and what I told the man who didn’t like my prices.

I just have one comment. If you find it to be pleasing to you and feel the price is right for you, please buy it. By making that purchase, you own a piece of that artists heart and passion, a lovely story about how you met the artist and maybe a little story on how it was made and why you find joy in owning it.

If you have to question the price tag, it wasn’t meant to be. But don’t fault the artist for placing a value of their love and passion. Because, by no means will we ever be able to afford that Tesla Model S or the Porche 911 he may have in his garage by selling that little piece of clay… that sat on that shelf… on that beautiful sunny day in Palo Alto.

Below are the updates to the shows to finish out the year. My Events page is also updated and has additional details.

Thanks!

Oct. 24th in San Jose, CA.  A Fair of the Arts @Notre Dame High School presented by the Sisters and Associates of Nore Dame de Namur
http://www.HeartsAsWide.com

November 14 & 15 in Palo Alto, CA.  Art In Clay @Lucie Stern Community Center with Orchard Valley Ceramic Arts Guild

December 5 & 6 in Fremont, CA. Holiday for the Arts Show and Sale @ Olive Hyde Art Gallery Presented by Olive Hyde Art Guild

December 12 & 13 in Los Gatos, CA. Fine Arts Show and Sale at The History Club of Los Gatos presented by Blossom Hill Crafts.

No Excuses….


except for the fact that I was preoccupied! Last post was in March.

Today I woke up with my sore shoulders and tired eyes but with a new purpose after this weekend’s showing at the Palo Alto Clay and Glass Festival with ACGA. My first opportunity as a new ACGA-Exhibiting Artist. While I tried to keep my expectations level, my ambition was big.

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It was a beautiful day and my booth looked presentable. As I toured other artists booths, they reminded me of mini-galleries…mental note, think GALLERY!

nesting

New this year are these nesting bowls. Currently exploring various colors that include this one above that is made with red clay and my own glaze recipe called Amber. Other colors currently in the mix are: Hamada, Yellow Salt, Flambe, and Blue Celadon. All high fire reduction glazes on white clay. Sizes range from a small 2″ diameter to a large platter size. Looking to expand the form offerings to cream and sugar and condiment arrangements

I have also updated the Events page to include the next showings coming up in November and December in SF Bay Area. Hope you will look me up and see the new pieces I’ve been working on.

Now Showing…

Exhibition update for Wood fired and pit fired works.


This year, I’ve decided to switch gears and focus on submitting my work into exhibitions; local, regional and national.

So far, I have submitted 7 entries and 3 rejections. Every rejection is a bit hard to swallow…but can’t let this stop me.

On that note, I am happy to announce that I have been accepted to TWO exhibitions in May of this year.

First, 26th Annual California Clay Competition, 35 pieces by 29 artists have been selected by juror Jean Van Keuren, and… TWO or my pieces will be inlcluded in the show!!! Exhibition dates are set for May 1-29, at The Artery, 207 G St. in downtown Davis, Ca. If you are planning to visit CCACA that weekend, be sure to stop at The Artery for the opening night on May 1st where the awards will be announced at 8pm. I WILL BE THERE!

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In the press for more info.

Secondly, Blue Line Arts exhibition, “Purposeful Pottery”, selected two of my teapots. Exhibition dates are set for April 17th – May 30th in the Westpark Workshop Gallery in Blue Line Arts Gallery, Roseville, CA. Reception will be held Saturday, April 18th, 6-9pm in conjunction with the Saturday Art Walk.

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