Making Korean Ceramics

When is the last time you saw something creative and beautiful that you just had to share? Last week, I was privileged to visit the California College of Arts to join a ceramics class presenting their final works of the semester. This class consists of students in their first and second years and introduces to them historical ceramic works of art led by their instructor, Erik Scollon. And guess what was chosen as the subject this time around? Korean ceramics! The artworks covered celadon, buncheong, and blue-and-white porcelain—the history of Korean ceramics in one room. I felt like I was entering a gallery space in a museum. From far away, the works these students created looked just like our museum’s collection. Can you recognize any?


It was amazing to see one artwork transform into different pieces of art, showing off these students’ skills and creativity. One work they chose was the Asian Art Museum’s vase decorated with peonies and butterflies. Funny enough, the students used our online collection to view photos but we do not provide an image of the reverse side, meaning they could not see the butterfly! Each student created their own butterfly to decorate the vase. Look at how diverse the results were.


This class really inspired me to learn beyond my art historical background. The students demonstrated for us how two artworks in our collection would have been thrown on the wheel. One artwork would have its foot trimmed out, while the other would be thrown separately and then attached through slipping and scoring.



Many visitors to our museum ask the question, “How was this made?” I’ll admit, many times I don’t know the answer. These students answered many of the questions I had and have heard over the years. What causes the beautiful crackling on the celadon glaze? The answer: Reduction. It occurs when the glaze and clay dry at different rates, the clay drying faster than the glaze. Did you know that cobalt blue is actually a pink powder?



I’d like to share with you some of their works in detail.

Amazing, right? This class is an inspiration for our museum to work harder to display beautiful artworks that can then be interpreted by people today. This hands-on experience was a true privilege and I can’t wait to see what the next semester brings! Thank you to Erik and his wonderful students!


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