An Ode to Czech Potters

Korea, Europe, the Americas, and abroad
User avatar
lUKAV28
Posts: 104
Joined: Fri May 03, 2019 2:00 pm
Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:05 am

Bok wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 10:41 pm
lUKAV28 wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 9:07 am
But it does beat me why the Czech Republic has such a strong pottery scene. Maybe the success of Petr Novak put a spotlight on other potters like Pavek and Duchek and now even younger potters are building its names like Sklenicka. And the scene is even broader if you put woodworks by Ondrej (Samorost).
Is it really strong though? Seems to me it's those three and that's it. Not forgetting Novak's female partner Mirka Randova. Pavek to me is still a novice potter, not up to the level of Novak, still some learning and improvement to do.

In regards to clay, I remember reading Novaks blog, where he mentioned getting the majority of his clay from Germany, where it is prepared industrially. My favourite pots and background story of his are the ones he made from clay taken from Sun Moon lake in Taiwan. That was also the occasion that I met Petr and his tea ware while he was having an exhibition in Taichung. I was surprised how small some of his pieces are, difficult to guess from his images...
There are few more, yes, Bero, Jiri Lang, Aleš Belin and so on. Although I agree with you on the “not on the same level”, they keep improving. Latest Pavek works are really something to look at but I don’t own any of his pieces (yet) so I can’t judge. Otherwise with Duchek and Lang I like how the beauty of their works fully reveal when you start using them. Like an additional layer unfolds in front of you. Well thought craftsmanship.

As for Novak and Mirka, I am starting to appreciate their work more and more but it is really hard to get closer to it on their tea & pot club as they are sold immediately. Would love to grab a tea boat and a tea jar.

Also thank you for sharing the story. Didn’t know Petr used Taiwanese clay on some of his works. I can only imagine how would that work.
User avatar
Bok
Vendor
Posts: 3723
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:55 am
Location: Taiwan

Wed Mar 04, 2020 2:25 am

lUKAV28 wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:05 am
Also thank you for sharing the story. Didn’t know Petr used Taiwanese clay on some of his works. I can only imagine how would that work.
You don't have to, here's the link with images to the story: http://potsandtea.blogspot.com/2014/09/ ... apots.html
User avatar
Bok
Vendor
Posts: 3723
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:55 am
Location: Taiwan

Wed Mar 04, 2020 2:31 am

lUKAV28 wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:05 am
Bero
Bero is Polish isn't he?

I remember him undeservedly being in the shadow of Petr when they had that joint exhibition in Taiwan. Lots of foreigners there all swarming around Petr, while Bero was humbly standing by…

In my opinion Bero is the more versatile and creative of the two. He should get more recognition than he does presently.

Novak is more a kind of monkishly repeating the same things over and over with subtle changes – which is of course a viable strategy, for me though it’s becoming a bit of a Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s moment, if you heard one song, you’ve heard them all…
User avatar
hopeofdawn
Posts: 65
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:56 pm

Wed Mar 04, 2020 2:51 am

I'm not sure I agree with that, as every time I see a pots and tea club offering go up he seems to be experimenting with new glazes and variations on his forms. He doesn't completely switch style, of course, but there's a definite evolution there. In fact I have a couple pieces of his with very unique glazing techniques/colors that I've never seen him replicate--and I definitely wish he'd do more like them!

In contrast, the photos I've seen of other Czech potters work seem to be very ... rustic, perhaps? The spouts are stubby and short, the pots are often cylindrical in shape, and handles are sized to fit--all perfectly functional, and yet lacking a little bit, I think, in refinement and balance. (That said, I have not bought any of these pots and do not know how they handle or pour. Perhaps they are a joy to use. I can only judge from what I've seen in the pictures.) I also have yet to see a glaze that really makes me stop and go 'oh wow' like some of Petr and Mirka's glazes do (her recent 'snow' cups being a prime example).

Of course, all art is in the eye of the beholder, so your mileage may vary.
User avatar
aet
Posts: 213
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2018 7:56 pm
Location: Kunming ( China )

Wed Mar 04, 2020 4:52 am

Well, speak of the beer taxes . There is a new law being enforced which complicates all matter of consuming. Separated on takeway, drink in bar. I'm not sure how big difference is with tax on tea, yet alcohol should be higher , I believe.

Hard to define what is the popular tea in Czech. Many tea drinkers took an opportunity and purchase some cheap stuff from Ali-express or some cheap stuff from local retailers.
In many cases ( if puerh ) , as I hear and read , were disappointed mainly with wet basement , wooden bench from church ( as they call it ) in odor and flavor.
Problem is , as I mentioned before , the tea economy. ,Lots of cheap GZ tea and specially fake labeled famous places like LBZ, BD or old teas like 1970-80-90 etc., are imported. People there have no clue and some of them even posting on FB tea from 60's.
Some of them think that rotting sour taste they experience is an authentic lao cha and made them selves convinced ( based on that fact ) to like the taste.
I'm not kidding neither exaggerating. As my friend told me , one day he purchased 1980 shu puerh for local tea shop. Went home with feeling of being something more than regular tea drinker. Felt accomplished , like some tea guru. The consciousness of holding something so old and rare in his hand was very intensive and he couldn't wait to put it in the teapot.
Finding that odd taste and odor later ..."Well, I'm not an expert on old tea yet " said him self. What else he could do? Until I have roughly enlightened him about real prices of aged tea in China , he had believed he had drunk very old tea and this is the taste.

Speak of the pottery. From all pottery makers I've seen online , I'd use probably 1 or 2 teapots , but of course it's a personal preference. I'm not a fan of 土陶 ( sort of rough clay pottery ) . I know it's not easy to make a good teapot , I have tried my self in Jianshui. But some local people there achieved to make decent shapes after 2 years of learning , so I guess intensive practice matters. I don't know how much practice Czech potters have, as probably some of them still keep their day job or teaware is not the main product they live on.

To me , the Czech tea pottery gives an impression the early stage of development , where shapes are kinda robust, rough , bulky ...kinda not gentle , delicate. I don't know how to describe it. But I believe the clay and wood firing are the major factors as well.
Maybe it is a purpose of such a style, but as I said , I'm personally not fan of this.
User avatar
Bok
Vendor
Posts: 3723
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:55 am
Location: Taiwan

Wed Mar 04, 2020 5:55 am

@aet in the case of wood firing I think the goal is the opposite to Classical Chinese pottery.

Influenced by the wabi sabi philosophy, imperfection and tiny random mistakes are sought for. In reality this is more difficult to achieve than perfection...

In European art especially there often is a rough learning curve which goes from trying to achieve perfection in the given art, master it to an almost abstract haphazard style later. Once perfection is achieved many artists decide to “let go” and to not look for perfection anymore, but instead naturally let things run their course.
User avatar
lUKAV28
Posts: 104
Joined: Fri May 03, 2019 2:00 pm
Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Wed Mar 04, 2020 12:05 pm

Bok wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 2:25 am
lUKAV28 wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:05 am
Also thank you for sharing the story. Didn’t know Petr used Taiwanese clay on some of his works. I can only imagine how would that work.
You don't have to, here's the link with images to the story: http://potsandtea.blogspot.com/2014/09/ ... apots.html
Thnx, I will look into it. Speaking about Bero ... my bad, I really thought he was Czech. But I kinda agree about his versatility. Every new firing from him brings some new shapes and forms and materials so it’s always interesting to see where he’s at. Recently he got me off guard with porcelain pots. I totally wasn’t expecting that.

Lately Mirka is putting some really nice work out too. This jar mesmerized me when I saw it. Same with her snow cups that @hopeofdawn already mentioned.
Attachments
2FE41A62-E079-4A42-BB41-4472A02DC172.jpeg
2FE41A62-E079-4A42-BB41-4472A02DC172.jpeg (27.77 KiB) Viewed 1794 times
User avatar
debunix
Posts: 1133
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2017 1:27 am
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Thu Mar 05, 2020 1:37 am

There are some wonderful effects that seem exclusive to pieces from wood fired kilns....

Image

(foreground pot by Petr Novak, cup in back is Shunko-en Bizen-yaki)

Or maybe you can vary conditions during use of gas or electric kilns to create something similar?
User avatar
Bok
Vendor
Posts: 3723
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:55 am
Location: Taiwan

Thu Mar 05, 2020 5:59 am

debunix wrote:
Thu Mar 05, 2020 1:37 am
There are some wonderful effects that seem exclusive to pieces from wood fired kilns....

Image

(foreground pot by Petr Novak, cup in back is Shunko-en Bizen-yaki)

Or maybe you can vary conditions during use of gas or electric kilns to create something similar?
In my experience you can some similar effects with so called soda firing. Similar, yet not quite the same.
User avatar
wave_code
Posts: 197
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2018 2:10 pm
Location: Germany

Fri Mar 06, 2020 10:55 am

Bok wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 2:31 am
lUKAV28 wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:05 am
Bero
Bero is Polish isn't he?

I remember him undeservedly being in the shadow of Petr when they had that joint exhibition in Taiwan. Lots of foreigners there all swarming around Petr, while Bero was humbly standing by…

In my opinion Bero is the more versatile and creative of the two. He should get more recognition than he does presently.

Novak is more a kind of monkishly repeating the same things over and over with subtle changes – which is of course a viable strategy, for me though it’s becoming a bit of a Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s moment, if you heard one song, you’ve heard them all…
While I haven't had the chance to own/use anything from either of the two yet, I have to agree I really like Bero's work a lot more. He seems to have several distinct styles/forms that come and go, but I really like all of them. I really like the dots he uses sometimes- especially in red they make me think of Paleolithic cave paintings. Also other than Novak he's the only person that I feel like I've been seeing working on new/bigger things like kettles. I think Novak's tree bark pots are really neat, but a lot of his palate and textures to me remind me way too much of granny style mugs I remember seeing a lot. He clearly has dedicated customers, but I often wonder how much of this is just because he seems very closely associated/connected to GTH. Not to try and take a swipe at him or that community but it seems a bit like one of those things, ya know? Oh, tea and meditation, well these are THE cups everyone has, so I guess I should get those too. Though if he makes cups/bowls specific for that kind of brewing I suppose it makes sense.

I have a couple pieces from Jiří Lang and I really like them. I got a cup and shibo set, and unfortunately the lid of the shibo met a hard tile floor so its waiting until the day I get it repaired. I still really like and use the cup a lot. I also got a yunomi that he did and it is hands down my favorite cup - everything about it feels absolutely perfect and its the main cup I use most days now.
Janice
Posts: 221
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:11 pm
Location: New Jersey

Fri Mar 06, 2020 12:36 pm

I bought several Bero pieces years ago. I chose these two pieces because of the glaze but as a bonus they’re both easy to hold and pour.

This is a 60 ml shib that’s unglazed inside.

E552A7E7-2290-43FB-8F64-1F479922AB9B.jpeg
E552A7E7-2290-43FB-8F64-1F479922AB9B.jpeg (303.5 KiB) Viewed 1704 times

The second piece is a 100 ml hobin with a clear internal glaze. The cup is from Shyrabbit. It’s glaze harmonizes with the Bero’s pieces and Shyrabbit cups are always a delight to hold and to drink from.

C2844C84-38AF-415B-825D-D2AD245AA2A9.jpeg
C2844C84-38AF-415B-825D-D2AD245AA2A9.jpeg (321.4 KiB) Viewed 1704 times
User avatar
Shine Magical
Posts: 596
Joined: Wed Nov 01, 2017 4:13 pm
Location: Boston, MA

Wed Jun 24, 2020 1:58 pm

Thanks to this thread, I have a new teapot. :D
I like the construction of it a lot, and it's a nice size.
Since my parents are from the Czech Republic, it's nice to have a piece of teaware that I feel a connection to. I haven't felt that with any of my yixing/japanese clay pots.

User avatar
debunix
Posts: 1133
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2017 1:27 am
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Thu Jun 25, 2020 11:10 pm

Lovely. Who is the potter?
User avatar
Shine Magical
Posts: 596
Joined: Wed Nov 01, 2017 4:13 pm
Location: Boston, MA

Fri Jun 26, 2020 6:59 am

debunix wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 11:10 pm
Lovely. Who is the potter?
I bought it directly from Jiří Duchek. He was very responsive and easy to work with, was eager to sell one of his pieces, and had a few different pots in stock.

The only problem we ran into was Coronavirus shipping, it took ~2 months to receive the pot, so it was quite a celebration when it arrived. :D
User avatar
lUKAV28
Posts: 104
Joined: Fri May 03, 2019 2:00 pm
Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Fri Jun 26, 2020 11:58 am

Shine Magical wrote:
Wed Jun 24, 2020 1:58 pm
Thanks to this thread, I have a new teapot. :D
I like the construction of it a lot, and it's a nice size.
Since my parents are from the Czech Republic, it's nice to have a piece of teaware that I feel a connection to. I haven't felt that with any of my yixing/japanese clay pots.

This is my favourite Jiri’s pot. It is such a pleasure using it. I use it for young sheng but it would probably work great with whatever I decide to brew in it.
Post Reply