Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Potter's Tea Party - With a Workshop by Fong

On Friday, February 6 I attended the opening reception of Red Star Studios biannual show "The Potter's Tea Party". This show features the work of a variety of artists from all over the country. This show celebrates each artists' individual interpretation of the tea ceremony and its accompaniments. Some of my personal favorites include the work of Sam Chung, Jennifer Allen, Linda Christen, Gay Smith, Malcolm Davis and Elizabeth Lurie.

In addition to a great new show, Fong Choo also presented a two - day workshop for Red Star Studios. Fong Choo is a native of the Republic of Singapore and is inspired by his Chinese heritage and the tradition of Yixing pottery. He is currenlty a parttime professor of ceramics at Bellarmine University in Loiusville, Ky and a fulltime studio potter.

Fong Choo specializes in the miniature teapot form. These teapots are often no larger than 5x5 inches. While these teapots are small in scale, their whimsical nature and the attention to detail immediately engage the viewer. Fong demonstrated several of the miniature teapot forms for us. He throws quickly and with very soft porcelain. He does all of his altering when the piece is freshly thrown. He uses his own handmade tools to do all of these alterations and when attaching the handles and feet.

During the first day of the workshop he threw a total of nine mini teapots and finished five of them by the end of the day. He also showed us examples of some of his more "functional" work and threw a larger teapot, mug and bowl. I found it very interesting to learn that he trims the bottom of his bowls and even his mini teapots then throws a coil foot after the trimming process is complete. In addition to the large quantity of work demoed, he also discussed his business philosophies with us. Fong Choo originally majored in business before deciding to major in art. It seems that his business experience has played a large role in his success as a full time studio potter.

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