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Far out ceramics from Far East influence

By historical accounts, some of the earliest pottery was produced in China and Japan about 10,000 years ago. The potter’s wheel was invented in Mesopotamia 4,000 years ago. Porcelain was developed in China 615 years ago. Europeans took awhile to catch up.

Japanese raku-fired basket with white crackle glaze and natural handle by Heidi Schramm of Arlington, Va.
Photo by Guy Zoller

So it is that the theme for the next show is true to history and is titled “An Ode to Asian Artistry: Far East Ceramics.”

“The Essence of the Far East shines through as the potters of the Washington Ceramic Guild embrace Asian glazes, forms and designs.

In conjunction with the Art League's Biennial Ikebana Show, Scope Gallery clay artists are putting prosperity in their pots and lacing them with longevity, creating originals with a dash of Asia on top.

Vessel handles echo lines of ancient altar tables, textures mimic motifs of silk brocade and crackle glazes copy classical clay finishes.

Japanese raku firings showcase surfaces of iridescent rainbows and black and white contrasts. Embossed and debossed surfaces show fine liquid clay, or slip, decoration techniques borrowed from Korea. Age-old glazes of celadon green and earthy orange shino echo Eastern ceramic traditions. Cobalt blue and brown patterned surfaces show 15th century Thai- and Vietnamese-influenced ware, contrasting with the freeform spontaneous brush painting seen from China.

Swooping marks and brushstrokes run circles around normally staid forms. Traditional vessels of egg jars, rice bowls and covered boxes pepper gallery shelves. Teapots surrounded by tea bowls, express warm greetings to visitors. Low-profile vases used in the art of ikebana, or Japanese flower arranging, come in round, arched and asymmetrical shapes.

Fish, symbols of prosperity and wealth, weave aquatic magic on pot surfaces. Bamboo, a steadfast icon of resilience and flexibility, appear in accents, handles and in painted decorations. Birds, which represent fidelity, alight on wall tiles, vases and in detailed sculpted pieces. Elephants, in relief on wall tiles, embody good fortune.

The ancient cultural clay language of the East is translated by today's potters in technique, materials and form, creating a new blend of Zen.”

Torpedo Factory Art Center's Scope Gallery

“Timeline of Selected Ceramic and Glass Developments

24,000 B.C. Ceramic figurines used for ceremonial purposes
14,000 B.C. First tiles made in Mesopotamia and India
9000-10,000 B.C. Pottery making begins
5000-8000 B.C. Glazes discovered in Egypt
1500 B.C. Glass objects first made
1550 A.D. Synthetic refractories (temperature resistant) for furnaces used to make steel, glass, ceramics, cement
Mid 1800′s Porcelain electrical insulation
Incandescent light bulb
1920′s High-strength quartz-enriched porcelain for insulators
Alumina spark plugs
Glass windows for automobiles
1940′s Capacitors and magnetic ferrites
1960′s Alumina insulators for voltages over 220 kV
Application of carbides and nitrides
1970′s Introduction of high-performance cellular ceramic substrates for catalytic converters and particulate filters for diesel engines
1980′s High temperature superconductors”

The Washington Ceramic Guild show runs March 3 to 30; hours are Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with Thursdays open until 9 p.m. The gallery is located at 105 North Union Street, ground floor Studio 19, Alexandria, VA. 22314. For further information, call Scope Gallery at 703-548-6288 or visit The Sogetsu Biennial Ikebana Show runs March 6-9 at the Art League Gallery which is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays. The gallery is located on the ground floor Studio 21.

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