Meet your makers: These PH ceramic artists are molding the age-old art into modernity

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Whether we admit it or not, the lockdown has made us delve into our creative pursuits. From baking, plant-tending, to plain old home design, most of us have turned to the artist inside to keep afloat.

With the mix of art pursual and endless scrolling, the art of pottery is back to turn heads. No longer the far-reaching medium of the old ages, young ceramic makers are now (literally) molding it into modernity.

We caught up with Pau and Gabriel Javier (@wabi_sabiPH), Aly Kangleon (@manibalang), and Iori Espiritu (@ioridori) to learn how they got their hands dirty – and if there’s room in the ceramic world for the rest of us.

philippines ceramics, <b> Meet your makers: These PH ceramic artists are molding the age-old art into modernity </b>
L: @manibalang; M: @wabi_sabiPH; R: @ioridori

Origin story 

With the three almost always having their pieces sold out, it’s hard to realize that they were once beginners like the rest of us – but just getting started takes a lot of courage, effort, and the knowing where to go.

@wabi_sabiPH: ‘We started with @plastermaster –  sculpting with air-dry and polymer clay then we took a pottery workshop early 2019. Kept going ever since!’

@ioridori: ‘I started 2008 when I attend a @pettyjohnpottery workshop.’

@manibalang: ‘I took it up in 2017 as art therapy to manage my anxiety and manic depression and it worked so well for me that I never let it go. Eventually got my own wheel and started making pottery from my sampayan where I still work now.’

philippines ceramics, <b> Meet your makers: These PH ceramic artists are molding the age-old art into modernity </b>
@wabi_sabiPH

Aside from sharing their origins, the triad also offered the most practical advice they can give for those raring to get into the medium – as it’s ultimately a craft that ought to be honed and practiced regularly.

@wabi_sabiPH: ‘Get into a class! You can still learn from an abundant selection of books or youtube videos but nothing will teach you better than a space that will provide hands-on experience and guidance from a teacher.’

@ioridori:You don’t need expensive equipment when you’re starting, use whatever tools you can find in your house.’

@manibalang: ‘Ceramics is a collaboration with the elements  – it might take some time and patience to communicate your ideas with the medium at first, but you’ll be guided by the elements (like if you use too much water, your pot could crack as it dries up. We only need to pay attention.’

philippines ceramics, <b> Meet your makers: These PH ceramic artists are molding the age-old art into modernity </b>
@manibalang

In the time of COVID

Ceramic artists are no exception to the numerous online shops and local artists rightly being given the spotlight nowadays, as they share how the lockdown has affected the business on both the good and bad side.

@wabi_sabiPH: ‘Before the lockdown, we were working at a laxed pace building from a rented studio. The lockdown actually pushed us to bulk up on stock- making as much as we can to finally invest in building our own studio.’

@ioridori: ‘It is more difficult to source materials so I have to make do with what I have. Workshops are also put on hold.’

@manibalang: ‘Since a lot of people are stuck indoors, the demand for things that spark joy like ceramics has risen which is great in that the ceramics community is thriving! We love to see it.’

philippines ceramics, <b> Meet your makers: These PH ceramic artists are molding the age-old art into modernity </b>
@ioridori

Despite the boost in sales and interest, burnout is bound to happen amidst the so-called ‘pandemic-anxiety‘ in South East Asia’s leading country with confirmed cases. As ceramic making consumes one’s mind, body, and materials, the art process can also be at a huge risk.

@wabi_sabiPH: ‘I think this lockdown, at least to us, created a sudden suspension of time. It’s like all of a sudden, you get all the time in the world to do whatever you want. So it really gave us the time to play around with ideas. ‘

@ioridori: ‘Yes, during the early lockdown, I didn’t have the energy to produce work because of anxiety. Pottery is mostly about “centering”, calmness and controlling the clay and when you aren’t centered yourself, it becomes difficult.'<%