▲ Novice potter Shanna Bosley tries her hand at throwing a clay pot at Sungji Doye pottery studio in Jeju. Photo by Kang Sang Ho
Sungji Doye ceramic studio just outside of Jeju-si offers solace for anyone looking to relax and create. The studio has been firing up its kiln at this location for the past 13 years. La Myoung Kwon, studio owner and residing sculptor, opens the doors of his spacious workshop to locals and foreigners.
Famous faces in clay greet visitors to the studio grounds, including Einstein, Gandhi, and Shakespeare. The workshop itself sets an earthy tone with a mural depicting traditional Korean sculptors and their wares surrounding the workbenches. A potter’s wheel is availabl, and any novice or expert hands willing to get dirty are welcome to take it for a spin.
Pottery creation process takes patience Hand-forged or wheel-thrown clay pieces can then be delicately carved, and La has tools and techniques to share when applying designs. After these finishing touches, the pieces are left to sit and dry naturally for 25 days. Then they are off to the "kama,” or kiln, where La bakes them for up to nine hours at 950 degrees C. Still not complete, and prone to water degradation at this stage, the pieces are dipped in a murky glazing treatment, then sent back to the kama for 12 more hours at 1200 degrees C.
At varying points in this process, different mineral soils can be applied to a piece and baked in to create the desired coloring. Other minerals can be painted on to achieve yet another effect. The final product shines as proof of its completion, and as the result of the fire-forged glaze. The evolution from indistinguishable clay mass to personal masterpiece is finalized, and the original artist is informed of its readiness.
Many of La's own creations can be found in a boutique-like portion of the studio where visitors can purchase authentic and expertly-crafted gifts. A variety of wares are offered, from simple teacups to grand Josean-inspired vases, with very reasonable prices that range from 2,000W to over 500,000W.
The studio boasts both modern and traditional works, but those who enjoy the natural look of the dishware at most Korean traditional restaurants will be particularly fond of this hand-made Mecca. Inspiration can even be found for creations of one’s own.
Studio offers classes But the material results aren’t everything for this studio. As a creative haven the process is important, and self-investment in the practice and instilling energy into the clay-medium are also emphasized. When asked what Sungji Doye wants to share with the foreigners of Jeju, La said, “I’d just like them to know about the experience here.” Reaching Sungji Doye is an effort well-rewarded. On the southeast outskirts of Jeju-si, take the Bun Young road as if en route to the Sung-eup Folk Village and make a left at the prominent "Seongeup2-ri Deoduk village" sign. This back road will lead you to the well-marked and ceramic-laden studio grounds.
Sungji Doye encourages participants of all ages. There are no formal classes so the experience is catered to each participant. Prices vary depending on what you wish to make, but average around 20,000W for most visits, and 50,000W for specialty items. Instruction is available without an appointment from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, or after 3 p.m. on Sunday. Groups of 10 or more, or participants wishing to work outside of these times, can be accommodated and are asked to call ahead of time.
Inquiries can be made by contacting the studio at 787-2773, or by email at email@example.com. For more information visit www.sungjidoye.com.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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