Wednesday, February 29, 2012

korean made gaiwan

a few months ago i took a stroll around an area called nampodong (남포동). i stepped into a small teaware shop to see if i might find a gift for my assistant. luckily i found a well priced korean made gaiwan (개완). so well priced, decided to buy two, one for him and one for myself.

once the winter break came i went back up north to seoul, where i live, and since then haven't used my new gaiwan. i just returned to busan for the spring semester and am REALLY enjoying the use of this set. the thing i like most about it, at this point, is how light and comfortable the cup feels in the hand. because it takes on a more "korean" design, it automatically appears to maybe carry a bit more weight. this is not the case as it provides a similar feel to the chinese made gaiwan.

from what i get from this mark is the chinese word of "bi/비" : 건줄:비 as in "compare". i'm going off an internet search for this word so it could be incorrect...

the cup has already developed some tea oil stains

i have another gaiwan (chinese made) that was purchased back in september of 2011 which, to me, doesn't take on as much practicality as this korean made piece. as the korean piece is a nice feel in the hand, it incorporates a smart "streamer" at the lip with grooves to allow the tea to flow effortlessly into the cup. with that, the lid fits almost flush, but because of the grooved lip, the tea still pours well. my chinese made gaiwan, on the other hand, incorporates the grooves at the lid and are much more spaced apart (giving to more leave departure at the pour). also maybe due to my elementary pouring technique, the chinese gaiwan is not yet as comfortable to pour as i tend to spill tea more generously. i also wonder if it is because i have more of a korean tea drinking culture in me which prefers a bit more cleaner dispensing of tea.

i believe the script is simply the company which made the cup

Thursday, February 16, 2012

traditional korean potter: park bosung 박보성

two weeks ago my mom and step-dad came to korea for a two week visit. i wanted them both to experience korea's traditional culture. they are both interested in art and hand-crafts such as pottery and carpentry.

about a year ago i was at the seoul arts center (예술의전당) at an outdoor pottery art show and met park bosung (박보성). mr. park had a display of some beautiful traditional designed tea pots and other tea-ware. i took one of his cards and looked forward for the chance to schedule a visit to this workshop down near daegu.

about a week before my parents' arrival i gave a call to mr. park asking him if a visit to this countryside traditional korean home and gallery would be okay. he was more than welcome and provided us a few days where we could choose to come and view his work.

when we arrived to his house (in seongjungun 성준군) we were greeted by his wife who showed us to their property. on their property was a large traditional korean designed building (한옥 hanok) where he displays his work and enjoys tea with his visitors. he says the best time to visit is the spring and summer when the weather is more welcoming and tea can be enjoyed for several more steepings, rather than in sub freezing temperatures in an un-heated building.

our first exploring session was at his hand-made firing cave. this is where he fires all of his work and does so in a "step-up" progression in a way that allows for careful control of temperature.

our second stop was the gallery where we enjoyed some tea in pots that he had made. it was quite cold and due to an old hip injury i wasn't able to sit on the floor for very long.

our third session of exploration was in his self-made work-shop. the work-shop too was designed by a traditional korean home carpenter and the bricks were made and laid by mr. park and his wife over about a two month period. once in his workshop we warmed up almost instantly and were graced with his craftsmanship. in about 15 minutes he prepared the clay and fashioned one large container (maybe for storage of rice or an arrangement of flowers) and two large bowls. he was also kind enough to let me make a few bowls, one of which may serve well for a disposal bowl for tea-ends.

park bosung, traditional korean potter who specializes in teaware

here is the bowl that i made with a bit of help from mr. park

here is the master intensely at work

his products, for my pocket, are quite spendy but i'd say well worth it. i hope one day to make a few purchases of his hand-made tea pots.