Sunday, October 10, 2010


To those of us in the West it may seem odd that I would call Korean onggi the ‘mother’ of Korean culture.  Onggi seems so masculine and strong, created and fired by ‘real men’.  Indeed, most onggi (not all) is made and fired by men, but women are the primary users of onggi.  Like a mother, onggi alone has nourished the Korean people from the beginning of time.  It may be possible that there is no other aspect of Korean arts and culture that has been a part of Korean culture as long as the storage jars that we now call ‘onggi’.
It is this continuing partnership between men and women -the Korean people- that has made onggi what it is today.
Today it is easy to go on YouTube and find examples of onggi potters working.  Some of those videos are quite good, particularly those videoed and edited by Adam Field, but those videos tell just a small part of the story of onggi.  Don't get me wrong.  I applaud the dedication and work by those who are posting these videos, but all videos record just a portion of the story and much more needs to be explored. 
This blog will begin to explore some of the aspects of Korean onggi that seem to interest artists and art educators the most.  From the processing of the clay to the forming of the work, using various methods, to the building and firing of the kilns, this blog will explore these and other aspects of onggi in Korea.  We’ll also try to answer your questions.   Eventually  we may offer some onggi wheels, tools, other equipment and possible videos that you can purchase at reasonable prices and provide you opportunities to witness Korean onggi first hand.  If you are interested in purchasing pieces of onggi, we may be able to help you find the right piece although many onggi potters are hesitant to ship small orders.  Ceramic artists may even be able to study with an onggi potter by connecting with them through us.
Our research into Korean onggi spans more than 30 years.  During that time we have collected countless photos and met many onggi potters.  Recently, I returned from the Ulsan Onggi Exposition 2010 where I had been invited to present the keynote address.  I mention these things simply to provide you with a little background of my credentials to attempt to publish a blog such as this.
We are attempting this blog to help you get more personal with onggi and hope you will find this blog interesting.  It should be able to do some of the things our web site Korean Onggi can't do.  I look forward to your comments and questions as we take on this new blog adventure.
Along the way we’ll see if my assessment of onggi as the mother of Korean culture holds up.  I hope that you will join me in this new adventure. 
I must ask for your patience as this blog develops.  We have several other obligations as we attempt to introduce you to various aspects of Korean arts and culture and I do try to find time to produce some of my own work and prepare for a few exhibits each year.  
If you follow this blog, that will help me determine if there is an interest in our continuing this onggi blog, and your questions will help me determine the direction this blog should take so I look forward to them. 
To contact us directly leave a comment or email us. 
Click here to go to the next post.