Saturday, January 10, 2015

Mingei Inspsiration and Originality

I just wrote this elsewhere but wanted to share it with you too:

Shimaoka tells a story. In the beginning, his teacher Shoji Hamada would come to each of Shimaoka's kiln opening. One time, after looking at the resulting pots, Hamada says to his student, Shimaoka, "I see a bunch of nice Hamada pots here. But where are the Shimaoka pots?". So, Shimaoka was pushed by Hamada to find his own expression. It was hard to break free from his teachers influence. One day, the Prefectural Museum asked Hamada to make copies of rope impressed 3,000/year old Jomon pots. He made examples, and then turned over the chore to young Shimaoka. Shimaoka liked the effect. And added Korean inlay to the rope impression. His father was a traditional cord maker for kimono. Shimaoka had his father make special rope to texture his pots with. The first time Hamada saw pots from the kiln with jomon zogan technique, he remarked, " These are the Shimaoka pots I've been looking for!"

And Shimaoka emphasized the importance of his apprentices finding their own voice. In fact, apprentices in Japan did not use his Jomon Zogan technique, which he was recognized as a National Living Treasure for. I did not use it in Japan, but I discovered, upon my return to Minnesota in 2008, that since Shimaoka's block buster show at Northern Clay in 2001, many folks in the area are doing rope impression, but usually, without inlay. I decided that I had to do it here and teach it to my students, so folks can learn the original technique. I believe the main difficulty people have is knowing how to scrape the inlay once it is applied.