China Hosts the 10th Annual International Macsabal Woodfire Festival: February 1 to 12 in Zibo City
The year 2007 marked the tenth anniversary of the International Macsabal Woodfire Festival and the second time the macsabal (rice bowl) festival has taken place in Zibo, China. Originally the inspiration of master Korean potter Kim, Yong Moon, the festival is now publicly and privately supported in both Korea and China. The goal of these events is to enhance international cooperation by exchanging ceramic art techniques and sharing our diverse cultural experiences. This year artists from China, Korea, USA, and Japan attended the winter event. A second, spring event is planned in Osan, Korea with attendance from additional countries.
For about half of the 2007 participants, this year was a return adventure. During the 2005 woodfire festival in Zibo, artists from seven countries constructed a three-chamber dragon-style kiln adjacent to the Taishan Ceramics Factory, a manufacturer of porcelain dinnerware. A new artists’ studio has since been constructed near to the woodfire kiln.
When we arrived, the Taishan factory was compounding four types of clay (porcelain, a dark stoneware, a light stoneware, and a sculptural mix). Although still in our travel clothes, we could not resist starting to work.
The artists created work that revealed their personal interests, from traditional macsabals and large unggi jars to contemporary sculptures. Many artists started with their cultural tradition pottery but added a bit of their own style. Whether hand-building or wheel throwing, we initially worked using our familiar methods, but after several days, some artists began emulating other’s works and sharing techniques.
A wonderful addition to the cultural exchange was provided by local Zibo performing artists sharing dance and song. Five young performing artists from Korea also attended the festival and added energy with their traditional music and dance.
We had to overcome some challenges. We got some serious cracking in our work when firing a gas kiln too fast. Sculptures built using multiple (and unfamiliar) clays were prone to cracking at various stages. But the three-day woodfiring went smoothly and the resulting work was quite good. We anticipate that with further experience, the results will be even better.
At the conclusion of the festival, some artists’ work was selected for the China Ceramics Museum in Zibo, and the sponsors chose other work to retain. Each artist selected two pieces to take home, but many works were traded among the participants.