Slow Pots

molly-holding-white-cup

I made some slow cups. They’re objects that are impossible to understand without being held and turned. From a distance, the white image on the white background is invisible and will barely give up a hint or a glint. Even in a photograph, only one vertical swath can really be seen at a time. However, when these cups are up close, when they can be rotated in every direction, the drawings sparkle and reveal the depth between the decal and the clay. There’s a subtle shadow in that sandwich of glaze that makes the drawings float.

They make you work for them, instead of giving everything up right away. They’re the opposite of the easily digestible graphic pots I’m known for and they only work when the user is physically interacting with them, because it’s the shift in the angle that makes the drawing reveal itself. They disappear and reappear. Because of the work that the user has to put in, it feels more like a relationship, a kind of give and take that is not as common in the engineered objects we buy today. This working for the experience demands a slow down, hopefully not the kind that tries one’s patience, but rather the kind that draws you in when something unexpectedly beautiful happens.

Snowflakes, a mammoth, a yeti, a legendary turtle, clouds, and an octopus. Why did I choose these images? Because they are elusive in some way, just like the physical drawings that disappear and appear. Time slows down and places us on a continuum where we are no longer at the center by any measure. We remember that mammoth went extinct, that people long ago created stories to make sense of the world, the impossibility of tracking movement in an animal as foreign as an octopus, and the bittersweet nature of catching snowflakes (let alone clouds). By interacting with something unpossessable, it reminds us of our humanity and our place in time.

candlelit-teabowl-3

If the black teabowls with silver luster were about candlelight, these white cups are about sunlight. It’s no coincidence that the white drawings have come out of the studio this time of year when, in the colder parts of the Northern hemisphere, the sun sets at 4:00 and half the day takes place in darkness. In my mind, there are two kinds of light in the winter; the red warmth of firelight at night and the blue clarity of daylight that makes this glaze look bright and crisp. These lights compliment each other, neither is better and both are needed. Making objects specific to lighting is an interesting challenge that speaks to rituals, contemplation, and my desire to get at something more spiritual through something physical.

16 Comments

  • Nicely said I love how you can bring into words the subtle things that happen when you use your work. It’s a gift you have and you use it well! Wishing you the best on 2015! I miss you!

  • Ayumi, I love this new work and the idea of “slow pottery”. It’s very inspiring!! I like the idea of having a more intimate relationship with a peice and having to look more closely at something to get more from it. Of course, it’s perfect for tea which is a reflective ritual. Hope you have a fantastic New Year! Wishing you the best. ~Alisha

  • Oh Ayumi, I am so grateful to have discovered your work. I am not a potter nor an artist but i love learning about your work. The Mamoth mug that I purchased is an amazing work of art. I feel like I know exactly what you mean when you say these pieces are about sunlight. The mug changes depending on the sun light in the room. I thank you for sharing this.

    • And I, in turn, and so happy to have made the connection too! You are such a joy to communicate and work with. I feel as though you reinforce my desire to put work into the world.

  • nice, Ayumi-
    love the black cups!! and the white-on-whites!!
    so neat-

    for me, in addition to external images, the ”slow” relationship with cups I use daily are also dependent on the specific shape, weight, ‘handleability’ of my cup–it truly makes a difference!
    (earthenware and porcelain=different weights, thicknesses of the clay=affecting pick-up weight, how the shape of the cup and the handle fit in my hand=comfort, the base of the cup=does it stand well=security?, the lip=is it comfortable to drink from? the glaze vs no glaze=how the surface feels under my fingers).
    These factors all give me pause as well, to appreciate both the piece and my feeling of comfort with it.
    Ayumi, your cups truly rock in all those ways as well-thanks for thinking of all those things in addition to the surface images–you’re a great functional artist-

    Happy New Year to you and yours-

    • It’s true that all these factors make it impossible to truly understand an object through an image and without handling it over the course of time. Wishing you all the best!

  • Thanks for taking time to write, Ayumie. Sometimes it’s an important piece in the closure of this circle of our experience as makers. The elusive nature of the things about which you write is the very essence of creative inquiry, isn’t it?- the beautiful mystery that leads us in to the studio again and again. What a blessed life. Happy New Year to you!

    • That’s very true. I think that often the more I write about something, the more doors it opens. It is a blessed life to be able to explore what one wants to. Happy New Year Jackie!

  • What a thoughtful post for the new year! I am still in love with the two bowls I received last xmas from my in-laws. I was never able to get anything during the online sales and they went in the snow storm during your sale in Portland and said meeting you was a pleasure.

    • Thanks Cindy! The days between Christmas and New Year are always a nice time for reflection. I’m so glad to hear that you like those bowls! That was quite a storm, many people skiied in and so I’m glad your in-laws made it. Happy New Year!

  • Ayumi- thank you for reminding us that pots don’t need to be flashy or sexy in order to resonate with people deeply, even though these surface designs are really stunning. Someday, I hope to make pots that affect people on similarly deep levels, and to develop a strong, online foundation of collectors like yours.

  • Amazing skills wonderful design do you have a show room or sell any online? I would love to purchase one thanks. I love collecting pots 🙂

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