John Baymore has been a professional studio potter for 44 years and currently fires a five chamber noborigama which was completed in 1981 at this studio in Wilton, New Hampshire. He just concluded serving his second term as the President of the Board of Dirctors of the Potters Council of the American Ceramic Society and is now the Immediate Past President of the Association. He has a family history in ceramics tracing back to the Cook and Mercer potteries in Trenton, NJ from the mid 1800s.
John began woodfiring his student work in 1969 in New Jersey in a small woodkiln he built at his home. John studied ceramics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and was first introduced to Japanese aesthetics and clay work when shown the black and white film, “The Village Potters of Onda” in his Ceramics 1 class. He has also attended classes at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and Rivier College in Nashua, NH. In the past, John has taught continuing education classes at the Danforth Museum School (MA) and the Lee (MA) Art Center, continuing education and BFA/MFA credit courses at Massachusetts College of Art, and BFA/MFA credit courses at Boston University’s Program in Artisanry. He is currently adjunct professor of ceramics at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he has been teaching ceramics studio and technical courses as well as ceramic art history in the undergraduate, certificate, and continuing education programs since the fall of 1995.
He has worked on on the New Hampshire Institute of Art’s Curriculum Committee and acted as the chairperson of the NHIA Health and Safety Committee from 1998 through 2006. In AY2005-06 he was the school’s part-time Academic Program Health and Safety Coordinator. He sat on NHIA’s NASAD Accreditation Committee in 1999-2000. He has also worked as a member of the Leadership Advisory Team for the New Hampshire Department of Education.
John has been a presenter at NCECA conferences in Boston in 1984, in Columbus in 1999, in Portland in 2004, and Seattle in 2012. He has presented workshops for diverse organizations including such venues as the Alabama Clay Conference, the Harvard University Ceramics Program, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston University, Wellesley College, the Currier Museum of Art, the New Hampshire Potter’s Guild, Emerson Umbrella Art Center, The Potter’s Shop, Mudflat Studio, Clay Dragon Studio, New Hampshire Art Educator’s Conferences, and a NJ State Teacher’s Conference. He recently presented the keynote address for the New Hampshire Art Educator's Association annual meeting at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH.
A kiln design and technical consultant for Cutter-Eagle Ceramics from 1978 through 1984, John has been a professional kiln builder since 1973. He was the full-time ceramics technician at Massachusetts College of Art from 1974 through 1978. He has built numerous gas, wood, salt, and soda kilns for potters and craft centers over the years, as far away from home as Richmond, VA in the United States, and recently also in Japan. John was the online “Kiln Answer Man” for the CraftWEB Project in 1995. He has also done glaze development consulting for the Finer Decoration Division of Sherle Wagner International in 1982 through 1984.
In 2006, John designed and oversaw construction of a large wood kiln at the Kanayama Togei Kumiai in Goshogawara-shi, Japan where it joined the only other non-Japanese designed and built wood kiln installed there by Fred Olsen. During the summer of 2009, John was invited to return to Kanayama to lead the group of international artists in a month long project in building a large wood fired salt kiln. In 1979, John was a consultant for the living history museum, “Old Sturbridge Village“ in Massachusetts, when they constructed a re-creation of a large colonial period wood fired bottle kiln.
John was an invited participant at the First Woodfiring Aesthetics Symposium held at the Japan Society in New York City in 1983, and was included in Gerry Williams' 1997 slide presentation on "Japanese Influences on American Ceramics" at the American Craft Museum in New York City.
He was the recipient of the Judge’s Special Prize in the Mashiko Ceramics Competition in 1996, juried by Shimaoka Tatsuzo and Hamada Shinsaku, and was invited to Japan to receive that award. Both Joan Mondale (representing the US Ambassador to Japan) and the Assistant US Cultural Attache’ to Japan attended the awards ceremony, formally representing the U.S. Government. This exhibition was also attended by the Emperor of Japan.
He was an invited presenter at the Aomori International Woodfire Festival in Japan in 2002, an event viewed by 37,000 Japanese citizens, and has also been guest lecturer at the prestigious Tokyo National University of Fine Art and Music (Geidai) in the summer of 2004 and again in 2008. In 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2009 John was an invited artist-in-residence at the Tsugaru Kanayama Ceramic Cooperative for the international woodfire festival programs held there. In the summer of 2013 John worked at the Kanayama studios producing a body of woodfired work. All in all, John has been invited to travel to Japan in the capacity as a professional ceramic artist on eight separate occasions in the past 13 years, and has lived in Japan for almost 2 years.
John was a lecture presenter and demonstrating artist at the International Society for Ceramiic Art Education and Exchange symposium held in Tokyo in the fall of 2011. In the spring of 2012 he traveled to MunGyeong, Korea as an invited presenter/participant in the MunGyeong Chasabal (teabowl) Festival. In the spring of 2013 he was a presenter at the 7th Yixing China Ceramic Culture and Art Festival. At that event he was appointed as a Visiting Professor at the Wuxi Institute of Arts and Technology in Yixing.
His work has been acquired for public collections in Japan including the Mashiko Pottery Museum, the Tokyo National University of Art and Music Collection, the Aomori Art Museum, the Goshogawara Art Museum, the Kanayama Resident Artists’ Collection, and Hitachi Corporation headquarters. His work is in the private collections of many Japanese potters including Shimaoka Tatsuzo, Hamada Shinsaku, Matsuzaki Ken, Ogawa Hirohisa, Kondo Hiroshi, Shimada Fumio, Yokou Satoshi, Matsumiya Ryoji, and Shigetoshi Tsuji. His work is also in the collection of the MunGyeong Ceramics Museum in South Korea and the Yixing Ceramics Museum and the World Pottery Capital Ceramics Musueum, both in Yixing, People's Republic of China.
John was selected to be featured in Japanese journalist Yokota Masuo's 2001 Japanese language book on Americans who are greatly influenced by Japanese culture. Also published in the Japanese language, a kiln he built in Japan is featured as the cover shot of issue #79 of the “Aomori Journal” and he has a six page section about him in Matsumiya Ryouji’s new book, “Clay, Fire, and a Stubborn Guy”. John’s influences from Japan are also mentioned in English in Yale University Press’s “Encyclopedia of New England”, and you can find his overglazed woodfired work which is influenced by Hamada Shoji’s work, pictured in Paul Lewing’s ACERS text, “Overglaze and China Paint”.
Other text publications involve multiple inclusions in Maureen Mills’, “Ceramic Surface Decoration”, studio information and images in Steven Branfman’s, “Potters Professional Handbook” and a listing in Yankee Magazine’s, “Guidebook to New England Handcraft Centers”. His work has appeared in Ceramics Monthly, Clay Times, Ceramic Industry, New Hampshire Magazine, and other magazines and newspapers. John has appeared on NHK Television News in Japan a large number of times, in a one hour RAB Television special (Japanese language for domestic use) produced on the Kanayama residency program, on WMUR Television’s “Four O’ Clock Focus”, and on National Public Radio being featured speaking about ceramic toxicology issues in 1976.
Articles by John have appeared in Ceramics Monthly, The Crafts Report, the NCECA Journal, and other publications. In 1983, John was also a pre-publication content reviewer for Charlotte Speight’s text, “Hands in Clay” and in 2005 for Steven Goldate’s, “Dictionary of World Ceramic Art and Artists”.
Recent exhibitions include an invitational solo exhibition at Chi-Lin Asian Arts Gallery in Meredith, NH in August 2010, "Seacoast Master Artists" invitational at Soo Rye Art Gallery in Rye, NH in July 2010, an invitational solo exhibition at the Thayer Academy Gallery in Braintree, Mass. in January of 2010, "Three in Clay" invitational at Chi-Lin Asian Arts Gallery in 2009, “Faculty Highlights” at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in 2005 through 2009, “The Vessel” invitastional at the Cunningham Gallery in Jaffrey, NH in 2004 and 2008, “International Resident Artists” at the Kanayama Togei Kumiai in Japan in 2004, 2006, 2008 , 2009, and 2010, at the Aomori International Woodfire Festival in Japan in 2002, and the 67th, 68th, 69th, 70th, and 71st “Regional Juried Exhibition” at the Fitchburg, MA Art Museum. Other recent exhibitions include the 2005 “Endless Variations” NCECA shino invitational in Baltimore, the “1st N.H Ceramics National Biennial”, “Woodfire Potters Invitational” in Manitou Springs, CO, and “Our Cups Runneth Over” invitational at the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston, where he also had a solo show in 2003. John was one of three invited wood-firing artists (along with Jon Keenan and Marc Lancet) when Tokai Gallery on Newbury Street in Boston held its first-ever showing of any non-Japanese ceramic artists in 2002. John has had work in 13 exhibitions in Japan since 1996.
He is a charter member of the Potter’s Council of the American Ceramic Society, and a member of the American Craft Council, the International Society for Ceramic Arts Education and Exchange, NCECA, the New Hampshire Potters Guild, the Japan Society of Boston, Doshikai Iaido Dojo, and a state-juried level member of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen.
There seems to be a lot of small details like that to take into account in proper tea ceremony ware.
Yeah, there are. Spending some serious time in a Tearoom helps a potter understand what those aspects are (see my Raku Chawan comments elsewhere). Also talking to real Chajin (Tea People).
Nothiong beats having a Chajin pick up one of your Chawan and say something like "Very interesting bowl." (That is a SLAM of a critique.) What that polite comment really means is, "Someone who understands Chanoyu (tea ceremony) would never have made a bowl like that. Can't be used for X reason(s)."
They say if you want to make good sake botles...... you have to drink a lot of sake. Time to study up .
I teach a course and workshops about this. Here's some "boilerplate" text I have written and given out before in answers to email questions about this. ( the "angle" to some parts is in response to specific questions):
"And yes, the Japanese are not as open about sharing 'pottery secrets' as American typically are. I've seen the Raku family process when I've been visiting in Kyoto..... and hence some of my knowledge. Plus I speak enough Japanese to converse a bit, and that fact along with being a potter myself leads a sense of trust to interactions when I am there. Plus introductions from one potter to another helps over there. While impeccably polite, it is a pretty closed society to "outsiders". I am fortunate that I have been accepted into their culture.
First off..... American raku and the process in Japan known as Raku are quite different.
While generalities are always wrong, there are basically two main versions of Japanese Raku wares....... Aka (red) and Kuro (black). Aka is fired a tad colder than Kuro, due to the glaze maturing difference. Both use a simple lead silicate glaze. The black version uses lead and a ground-up black-ish rock from the Kamo Gawa (Duck River) in Kyoto that is high in both iron and manganese.
For Aka only, the raw clay body is covered with a high iron slip that is bisqued onto the piece. For Aka only, there is an intermediate "firing" (a smoking really) where the bowls are placed in a brick box, interspersed with wood charcoal. The charcoal is lit. Where the charcoal is in strong contact with the red slipped wares and little air gets to it... it causes "fire clouding" of the slip...... smoke marks.
These carbon deposits will later get sealed under the low melting lead glaze...... creating the variegated color surfaces you see on much Aka Raku wares. They are more dramatic after the intermediary smoking... because the early part of the glaze firing causes some of the smoke effects to re-oxidize. But some usually stays trapped in.
Both use the same underlying clay body. It is a coarse, open high-fireclay type body, that in fired consistency greatly resembles SOME American bisqued stonewares when it is fired. The clay is pretty non-plastic, and the traditional forming methods take this fact into account. The most common way is to pinch a THICK general form... and then carve the inside and outside to the desired shape. Some is totally subtractive from a solid block of clay.
For Aka, the slip does not go all the way to the kodai (foot ring). There will typically be a place where the glaze overlaps past the slip and goes directly onto a small bit of the raw clay body. But the foot area is always clear of glaze. For Kuro, the glaze is applied all the way under the whole piece...... and right onto the entire foot ring. It is stacked on small wads in the kiln that are later ground off.
Almost all real Chawan are typically quite light. Raku ones are quite thin.... weight is an important consideration in a Chawan for actual Chanoyu (Tea Ceremony). Raku Chawan are typically at or under 454 grams...... a pound. They average about 13 cm in diameter and about 9 cm in height.
The traditional finish firing (the Raku family tradition) process uses a saggar to contain the bowls set into a small kiln that is charcoal fired, and an apprentice/shokunin (workman) runs a set of dual action bellows to get it really hot. For Aka......... the glaze is caught JUST as the glaze still has a little "fizz" in the melting process...... a tad underfierd. The pieces are pulled from the kiln and air cooled....... no post fire reduction and no water quenching happens.
Because the tea is in the bowl for such a short period (minutes)... there is no real concern about lead leaching issues. Plus the bowls are washed very well before a ceremony, and then are ritually washed again during the ceremony....so no thin surface deposits of lead oxide coming out of the glaze will be present at use.
Most westerners have never been in a formal tea ceremony. They last a few hours. A lot is involved. Along with garden viewing, a special meal, smoking, and breaks between things, there are different servings of tea.
First is what is known as Koicha (Thick Tea). Most westerners have never had this. Most who have, don't usually like it. It is a paste of the powdered Matcha and water that is about like latex paint in consistency. Strong flavor and powerful caffeine kick. If there are multiple Guests, the tea for all of them is prepared in one bowl, and the bowl is passed from person to person after taking their requisite sips.
Second is is Usucha (Thin Tea). This is the typical "Tea Ceremony" tea that is experienced by most westerners. It is the same Matcha and watrer... but the proportion of tea to water is much less than Koicha. Strong, but not as strong. There might be multiple servings of Usucha. Tea for a single Guest is prepared in a single bowl and after consuming it, the bowl is given back to the Host.
Raku Chawan are usually reserved for serving Koicha, not Usucha. In the core of tradition, a Kuro Chawan is reserved for serving only serious dignitaries and royalty.
Far from being considered "disposable", Raku wares are the MOST sought after pieces for Chado (The Way of Tea). The prices for pedigreed Chawan (family name......usage...... etc.) are literally astronomical. There is a "tea saying"......... "Raku first, Hagi second, Karatsu third." That is the 'pecking order' in which Chajin (Tea People) hold respect for the types of wares for Chanoyu.
The insulating qualities of the open porous body are a strong positive for Chanoyu. Makes the bowl feel good to hold........ warm, not hot. As is the fact that it is NOT vitreous.
Not know to most westerners, sound is also an important part of Chanoyu.... and the sound that a whisk makes in a non-vitrified Chawan is VERY different than the sound produced by a vitreous bowl. Raku is "soft" sound...... stoneware and porcelain are "hard" sound. When a Chajin (tea person) plans a Chanoyu (tea ceremony) there is a concept called toriawase. It is hard to translate..... but it is what a choreographers does to a dance performance, and what a conductor does to a classical concert. Sounds that happens during the ceremony is a part of selecting the timing, the objects and so on in the ceremony. Part of good toriawase.
ALL Chawan are treated with great respect.... so they don't get broken often. If you were invited to a real Chakai (Tea Gathering) when you handled the bowl....... you would have taken off all rings and watches and necklaces and such. The bowl would be handled ONLY over the tatami mats on the floor of the Chashitsu (tearoom)..... and you'd hold it literally INCHES from the mats when examining it (part of the ceremony). It will be stored in a cloth bag, then a wooden box, then likely another larger wooden box. Only taken out for use. Treated as more precious than gold.
As to 'studying tea bowls'....... this is important....... get to someplace where you can study TEA. The Urasenke School seems to be all over the place. There is WAY more to making teabowls that are actually suitable as Chawan than most western potters realize. A lot of the teabowls you see made by western potters will not pass muster of a real Tea Master for Chanoyu use. Many western potters don't CARE about the traditional use.... but if you do........ you need to understand Tea.
In fact, I am giving a lecture presentation at NCECA in Providence next spring that is titled, "What makes a teabowl a Chawan?" where i will address some of the stuff that is not as evident as it might be. If you are going.... stop in and say "hi".
There you have it.
Here are some student's work in the Aka Raku intermediary firing process.
In this relationship/setting, for the instructor to deliberately share incomplete information without disclosure just strikes me as wrong.
I and my colleagues (at the college level) frequently discuss how we gave a particular student some feedback on something........... and then later discovered that the person had taken that single piece of information and had ignored all the other things that they already knew about the ceramic process... and went off on a total "blinders on" tangent and did something totally absurd with that information. And that action then of course "bit them in the butt".......... And then they were flabbergasted that WE had given them that information. (Eventually ,........ they usually see the context of what they did and how they screwed it all up. Hindsight can be powerful.)
Maybe the instructor would have NEVER anticipated that this particular student would suddenly go off and produce a whole body of work with the untested reformulation and even plan on showing the work produced....... without taking all the knowledge that they already had about ceramics and doing things like the necessary TESTING WORK before ever doing such a thing.
I again come back to the fact that we have NO idea the context of this whole discussion.
There are many "styles" of instruction. In the US we geneally try to give "constructive feedback" and in some cases "prescriptive feedback". In some cultures the norm is "destructive feedback". I've heard tales of apprentices who had worked hard for a full day finding hundreds of the forms they'd made broken to bits the next morning with one single one left standing. No other feedback. Tough love.
I agree that if the instructor did this deliberately to cause the problem .......... NOT good.
Mel Jacobsen tells a very instructive story about "originality":
He was apprenticed in Japan. As the "American" he was looked at as the "creative one" amongst the apprentices. His sensei challenged him to come up with a new form. Most every night after he had completed the studio work he was doing for his senesi... he worked at coming up with a good original form. He would leave the piece on his sensei's shelves. The next day on his shelves would be a book opened to a picture of the form. This went on for about a year.
One assignment I use in my advanced BFA throwing course is a "copy the masters" assignment. I give the students a series of choices of a piece to recreate. (I do some specific editing as to who gets which choices.) These are to look like "3 dimentional Xerox copies". Finish fired... to match (brings in the full spectruim of the ceramic process learning). This assognment is intended to develop the EYE, and to develop handling skills. They never fully succeed........ and I don't really expect them to. It is the pursuit that is important... not who "wins". Nothing wrong with copying..... if it is done in the appropriate context for the appropriate reasons. (Pieces are signed as "copies".)
So next we get to "traditional" ceramic work.
Master and apprentice. The apprentice spends (typically) something like 7 years working to make the master's pots. By the time they become independent, the work they produce looks basically identical to the master's. In a lot of cultures, this skill anmd trained eye is greatly applauded. The passing on of a tradition.
When your work stops loooking like other's pieces and look like yours... you've matured as an artist (not necessarily as a craftsperson). When you have amassed the technical and handling skills to flawlessly (most of the time) execute your ideas...... you've also matured as a craftsperson.
When you put the two togetehr.... you probably actually know what you are doing.
One thing I have leared from teaching for 40 some years is that when you hear a story being told by someone else about what transpired... you are not always getting the 'whole picture'. You are getting a single viewpoint on the genesis of the situation.
Sometimes what the student hears/sees and what the instructor was saying/doing are completely different.
It would be interesting to hear the instructor's side of the same story about how the situation reached this point.
Iverall, Chris summed it all up nicely in her posting above.