Photos

  • Craft

    72 Hands

    From the Tiangong Kaiwu (天工開物) encyclopedia compiled by Song Yingxing (宋应星) at the end of the Ming Dynasty comes the oft-cited quote:

    “共计一杯工力,过手七十二,方可成器”

    For the total work required to make a single cup, it must pass through 72 hands, and only then can it become a vessel.

    72 Hands is an effort to document all types of ceramics techniques.  The video style is very simple- a single take of each technique focusing on the artisan’s hands.  Each video is accompanied by an article with a description of the technique and photos.  Videos are shot in high-resolution 4K Ultra-HD resolution which gives a clear view of the technique.

    Support 72 Hands

    To support the continuation of this documentary series, please consider becoming a patron.

  • Work

    From, In, to Jingdezhen

    “From, In, to Jingdezhen; Eight Experiences”, an exhibition organized by Jae Won Lee, brought together a mix of artists who make work in Jingdezhen.

    For this exhibition I refined the porcelain slipware that I began last year, exploring new designs with brushed slip.  I also began a documentary project, 72 Hands (72hands.org), in which I am recording traditional craft techniques in high-definition video.

    Gimhae Clayarch Museum Exhibition Page

  • Work

    Lobed dishes

    A series of lobed dishes inspired by Song dynasty lacquerware.

  • Photos

    Ticking away

  • Traditional

    Traditional celadon

    Recent firing with traditional porcelain stone glaze.  In the past I’ve tried but failed to use modern materials like feldspar and kaolin to capture the beautiful, unctuous surface and depth of porcelain stone celadons.  In this glaze the coloration is completely due to iron occurring naturally in the material.

  • Work

    Finally Sunny

    Work usually slows to a crawl during Winter in Jingdezhen.  Although it rarely dips below freezing, the weather is very wet.  Apart from the fact that it is quite uncomfortable to work in unheated studios, clay also dries slowly.  On the rare sunny days one can find balconies filled with drying porcelain as well as heavy blankets being aired out.

  • Work

    Translucency

  • Work

    Bisque out, bisque in

    Almost ready to glaze

  • Work

    Old trusty (and rusty)

    I've purchased this kiln nine years ago when I first arrived in Jingdezhen. Known as a 烤花炉, this kiln is normally used for overglaze enamels and decals. I paid about $300 USD for it. Only changed two elements in nine years.

  • Work

    Cloudscape

  • Photos

    Cat hotel

  • Antiques

    Wanli Pheasant

    Blue & White pheasant head on a Wanli dish.

    Single photo from iPhone with Eyeskey lens.  More details here.

  • Photos

    Scanning Test Tiles

    Having purchased a scanner for digitizing my family’s old photos, I had the brilliant idea to also scan glaze test tiles.  I thought I was a genius until Matthew Katz mentioned that he had been scanning tiles for the past ten years.

    Matthew noted that CCD scanners have a greater depth of field, which is great for three-dimensional objects like test tiles.  Because of his recommendation I purchased the Canon 9000F Mark II.

    I’m not a scanner expert and have never calibrated a scanner before.  I already have an X-Rite ColorChecker Classic for photography, and this color card can be used with X-Rite’s i1Profiler (i1Publish) software to create a scanner profile.  Unfortunately, the software license seems to be very expensive.

    I tried Argyll CMS (http://www.argyllcms.com/) but results using the generated ICC profile were worse than the default output.

    Here’s a scan of some test tiles.  I had to adjust the Exposure in Photoshop by about +1 stop.  Notice the reflections on some test tiles that were not flat.

     

    2400dpi scan, 1.3GB TIFF

    Enable large image scans on Canon 9000F Mark II

    The Canon software is really frustrating- by default it wouldn’t let me scan a file greater than a set limit (10208 x 14032 pixels, or larger than 100MB).  I finally found a solution hidden away in the software settings.

    By default, ScanGear won't let you scan images greater than a seemingly arbitrarily set limit.

    1. Open IJ Scan Utility and click Settings

    2. Select ScanGear and check Enable large image scans

    3. ScanGear will now scan files over 100MB. However, you must manually enter dpi greater than 1200, such as 2400, 4800, 9600.

    Comparison with DSLR

    I have a relatively old and cheap Canon EOS Rebel T2i with a 18MP sensor.  In comparison with the Canon 9000F scans, the photos from my camera are smaller.  However, they seem to contain just as much if not more detail and better colors.  If needed I can adjust lighting conditions and camera settings to reduce reflections and adjust exposure.  On the other hand, the scan had some reflections that I could not eliminate.

    It also takes less time for me to take photos than scan at 2400dpi.

    Below are comparisons of the scan and the photos.  In particular, the dark glazes came out very poorly on the scanner.

    Tianmu glaze tile. Canon 9000f Mark II 2400dpi, adjust exposure +1.

    Tianmu glaze tile. Natural light, 18MP EOS Rebel T2i photo

    Ash glaze tile. Canon 9000f Mark II 2400dpi, adjust exposure +1.

    Ash glaze tile. Natural light, 18MP EOS Rebel T2i photo

    Detail of Canon 9000F Mark II scan

    Detail of 18MP EOS Rebel T2i photo

    Conclusion

    In conclusion, while the Canon 9000F is great for scanning old photos and documents, I still haven’t found a way to scan glaze tiles that beats results from my old DSLR.