Clay, wood and beauty 3

If you’ve been reading the recent posts you’ll know that I’ve been thinking about the relationship between woodworking and ceramics, both from the practical point of view – thinking about how they complement one another and how to combine them, and from the point of view of process – wondering what is the equivalent in wood of the chance events that happen in a kiln and give the pot its vitality.

I have been lucky enough…and I can’t remember how it happened… to find on Facebook the Japanese potter, Shiho Kanzaki.  Potter sounds so mundane, but I think that pots and furniture share this quality; they can be simultaneously prosaic objects, for putting in, putting on or sitting on, and works of art.  Shiho uses a traditional technique of Anagama firing.

Looking at Shiho’s beautiful work and seeing in the ash glazes the equivalent of the grain and figuring in wood, it seems that we are both working with chance events and accident, but whereas in ceramics they happen after the pot has been formed, in woodworking the chance events happened during the 100, 200 or 300 years before the tree was felled. The potter creates the form on which chance takes place. My role is rather to create the form that lets the chance events of the previous centuries be seen and appreciated.

Maybe the structure and form of a piece of furniture is the counterbalance to the fluidity and happenstance of the wood… the human yang to the wood’s yin.  The coming together of intention and chance, creating, if we are lucky, beauty.

With great thanks to Shiho San whose work and ethos you may find inspiring.


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