Ceramic Current

The outcome of my residency in Arita, Japan, is a series of objects that symbolizes the dedication and patience of Japanese culture. I drew inspiration from a guided tour of an old porcelain factory in Arita, one of the most authentic factories in the vicinity that still produces ceramics in a traditional way. A machine in this factory was dripping porcelain from the side, and these drips amassed into small sculptures that varied constantly. Many people might have found this by-product of the machine unremarkable and unimportant, but it set me thinking. I decided to investigate how I could imitate this process to produce objects.

I started to experiment with these porcelain drips. To achieve a good drip, I first developed a new porcelain with a ceramics technician from the Saga Ceramics Research Laboratory in Arita. The experiments eventually resulted in a collection of vases and dishes to which every drip of porcelain is applied by hand. Every product is unique, because every drip falls differently. It is a time-consuming process that demands dedication from me as a designer, a trait that is more self-evident in Japanese culture.

The biggest challenge was the material. It took months of experimentation to ensure that the drips of porcelain had quick-drying properties. The shrinkage of the material also presented a problem, as the drip structure needed to have the same shrinkage as the basic form of the vase. This involved two different porcelain recipes, so we had to carry out many tests.

The unique thing about this project is that it has broadened my horizons, but likewise opened the eyes of the staff of the research laboratory in Arita. These technicians, mould makers and clay producers had never witnessed my mode of designing before. Initially this resulted in incomprehension, but as the project progressed they gained a better understanding of my method of working and started to appreciate its qualities. Our cooperation afforded Japanese ceramicists new insights into different approaches.

Ceramic Current is a collaboration with the Saga Ceramics Research Laboratory in Arita, Japan. Part of the collection has been acquired by the Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands.


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