Thursday, February 17, 2011

In which all goes to pot

Justin and I have actually had a mellow work week. The kids seem to be "in the zone" and learning really well lately, and every year we teach, things get easier. The weather's been gloomy and wet, but after a year in Scotland that doesn't faze us (gloomy and wet is only really bad when you know it will never be anything else!). So what I guess I'm saying is... I have no explanation for why I haven't written a blog post since the weekend.

On Saturday we went back to the ACROS, home of the much-enjoyed saki-ori textile exhibition, for the Agano pottery exhibition. Agano is a local pottery style noted for its Korean influence, which dates back to a Korean potter who came to teach the style in the 1600s. (Korea was regionally renowned for pottery, especially celadon ware, the manufacture of which is the topic of the recent Newbery medal winning A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park. Justin taught that book this year, and it was a great hit with his many Korean middle schoolers. In my opinion it is a rare and awesome exception to the rule that award-winning books suck, and I highly recommend it to anybody with a young reader looking for an interesting book.)

I had friends in my material cultures master's program who are really into ceramics, but it was never my thing. I was surprised to really, really like the Agano ware on display. There's something sturdy and homey about it, but it's not at all heavy. The shapes, colors, and textures are pleasantly organic. We didn't take any pictures of finished stuff, but you can see some at this web site.

No finished stuff, you ask? Then what did you photograph? Why, our goofy and tragic attempts at throwing our own Agano pots on the try-it-yourself wheel, of course!

Alas, despite this auspicious beginning, all did not go well for Justin. One slip of the finger, and the pot collapsed beyond all redemption. Much like Justin's dreams of pottery glory.

Surely I could do better?

Well, it depends on what you mean by "better." By my count, it takes me approximately 14 seconds to completely ruin that pot. Since it took Justin much longer to ruin his, I think that means I win.

I was so bad that the pottery demonstration guy let me try again. This photo is from my second attempt.

Clockwise from upper right: my second attempt, Justin's first attempt, and terrific pot made by demonstration guy.

My first pot was so bad he actually threw out the clay, which is some kind of record when you consider what Justin's looks like.If we keep going to ACROS we're going to need a survey: "Which traditional Japanese craft did Justin and Nana fail at the hardest?" Stay tuned!

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