Korean folk potter
Photos courtesy Dan Gallaway.
Heo Jin Kyu is an onggi potter and is a member the Ulsan Onggi
Association. His works are fired in gas, oil, or “noboragama”
kiln to 1260°C (cone 8) with an ash glaze. The “noboragama”
kiln is fired for 15 days. All of the pots are made for sale.
- Wood being stored to dry and await firing.
- A “Noboragama” kiln which, when filled fired for
- Finished work from varies potters from the Ulsan Onggi Association.
- Hand made tools used to make the jars
- Heo Jin Kyu begins by making a slab from a coil. It is put firmly
on the wheel and is thinned.
- The slab is hammered down with a wooden tool to thin and shaped
what will be the base of the pot.
- With the same wood tool he smoothes the foundation and cuts
it to the desired size.
- The initial coil is attached to the base with a downward turning
motion with the hand. This motion simultaneously compacts the
clay and removes any air that is trapped in side the clay.
- Making sure that the first coil is attached properly to the
base is vital, because it must be able to support all the clay
that is attached above it. The base also needs to be firmly attached
that the pot does not become loose and off center.
- More coils are added in the same manner as the first one
- The seems of the coils are sealed using his finger so that air
does not get trapped which would result in the pot exploding in
- The process is continued until the desired height for the first
segment is reached.
- A wooden paddle on the outside and a wooden anvil on the inside
are paddled against the clay walls to shape and compress the clay.
- The tools have small grooves carved into them that help release
the paddle from the clay and also help to further make sure that
no air is trapped in the walls of the pot.
- Looking down in the pot.
- Once the paddling has been complete, the paddle is turned to
the smooth side and the pot is paddled once more to remove the
- Two medal ribs are used to remove all texture from the inside
and outside of the jar.
- To ensure total control of the spinning jar throwing is done
from top to bottom.
- When the first segment is completed, the second part is the
begun the same way as the very first coil.
- An open can containing fire is hung inside of the jar. Since
the jar is so large the bottom portion of the pot cannot support
the weight of the upper part. Fire is introduced so that the lower
portion can become stiffer and support the added weight.
- Coils are then added to the desired height
- The final coil is made much thicker than all the rest. This
is done so that the potter can flip the rim from the inside of
the pot to the outside of the pot while remaining strong.
- The body of the jar is paddled once more to remove air and compress
- As a result of the jar’s large size a wooden tool is need
so that the potter can reach into the jar. The wooded tool acts
just as the potter’s arm and hand would.
- The only time water is added to the clay is when the rim is
to be made. The water softens the clay enough so that the potter
can flip the rim from the inside to the outside of the jar.
- Moving the clay from the inside to the outside to form the rim
- Final shaping of the rim is done with the fingers and a piece
- The jar is removed from the wheel with a canvas sheet. This
technique ensures that the shape of the jar remains the same during
Article: The Onggi Potters of Korea