Friday, June 6, 2008

Ikebana, Ceramics & Swordsmanship

I recently completed a short 5 session class in the Sogetsu style of Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement) at the Irvine Fine Arts Center conducted by Takeichi Haruko Sensei. This picture was taken in class (2nd week) after we completed the arrangement, but before the Sensei came around (with her clippers in hand!).

I enjoyed the class tremendously. The 5 weeks went by so quickly. The ceramic vase I made fitted the style of the arrangement so I used it. It's a high fire Kazegama style firing (ash firing), invented by Steve Davis of Aardvark. The vase is about 12" high, made out of paperclay, flashing slip was applied to the surface of the piece in the greenware stage. The texture you see is actually left over dried paperclay that is "glued" to the vase with paperclay slip. The texture and colors came out beautifully in this piece.

One thing that struck me were the quotes Takeichi Sensei shared with us. Even though it came from the Ikebana perspective, with my training in Japanese swordsmanship I now better understand  what my sword Sensei (Katsuse Sensei) was trying to tell me. My two favorite quotes from Takeichi Sensei:

1. When a man cuts the pine tree, it is no longer a pine tree. It has become the man.

2. Even if you are a beginner in Ikebana, and you have a small vase, make your arrangement big. Do not let the size of the vase limit you.

Hearing those words for the first time I smiled inside and I thank Katsuse Sensei, "Now, I'm beginning to understand a little bit."

It is incredible the feeling you get when you view these flowers and arrangement in your home. The spirit from these humble flowers that so many of us take for granted fills one's heart and definitely fills the room.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Addition to my website, My Blog Space

This is the first time I'm using a blog environment to supplement my website, so please bear with me.

The purpose of this blog is to encourage dialog and interaction between the viewer and myself, the artist. I invite your comments, questions, inquiries on all things related to my paperclay ceramic sculpture, including materials, glazes (or sometimes the lack of it!), techniques that are unique to paperclay, ie a forum for an exchange of ideas.

You are welcome to comment or email about my work.

A very big thank you to all who have encouraged me to pursue my passion.

Anthony Foo

Ceramic sculptor Anthony Foo wins award at 23rd Annual “Made in California” exhibit.

May 31st, 2008.

The City of Brea Art Gallery's 23rd Annual "Made in California" Juried Exhibition awarded ceramic sculptor Anthony Foo a cash prize for this "Earthship 1" and "Within Us" sculptures.

I'm thrilled to have my pieces recognized with their different stories: "Earthship 1" explores how life came to be on Earth, while "Within Us" portrays a rough exterior protecting the soft interior within us. It is fulfilling for me to see the patrons connecting with the sculptures."

Many of the artists and patrons did not know what "paperclay" was, so for me it was part educating and promoting my medium of choice. Many of them were totally fascinated by the heavily textured pod with white crystals popping out randomly in the "Within Us" sculpture. One viewer thought I had painstakingly put each and every one in! Each pod was hand formed (pinch form). Since the form stands on essentially a point, I had to make a scaffolding (out of paperclay) to keep the pods in place during bisque and high fire. My intent was to see partially through the two outer pods into the center white pod. The tear is deliberate. 

I decided to use a metal base (a solid block of aluminum, textured with a pein hammer) to give contrast to the naturalness of the clay. As an added benefit, the whole assembly will rotate around the axis of the support rod so I can change the perspective of the piece (when I feel like it).

The "shell" of "Earthship 1" was originally made out of the heavy grogged clay, aptly called "Grogzilla", but I found out it did not have the green strength to keep its shape. I wanted a heavy texture for the outside of the pod. Paperclay saved the day; I made the shape, allowed it to dry and then added wet paperclay onto the dry paperclay shell  - wet to dry joins - to create the roughness. The brown pods were of Black Mountain sculpture clay, each one made and set aside till past leather hard and then joined to the inside of the shell with more wet paperclay. The white tentacles of Southern Ice porcelain paperclay (natural color of the clay) were formed uniquely for each pod. It is a high fire - Cone 10 - piece. The tentacles were later attached following a numbering system I set up for each pod.

I enjoy using the different clay bodies the way they are, exploiting their natural colors and textures to create the feel and mood of the piece.

To read more about "Earthship 1" please click,
To read more about "Within Us", please click,