Sunday, April 8, 2012

Jeff Campana, Sectional Cup

I purchased this cup made by Jeff Campana from his Etsy store. He masterfully used the five allotted photos to bring this cup to life. Each photo was a different view, including a photo of the bottom of the foot and an interior shot. I loved the photos, but it was Jeff's description that helped me truly appreciate what I could see in the photos. His writing was interesting and easy to read. It taught me about his intent, his techniques, his style and the quality of his work. His whole presentation made me feel and appreciate the effort he puts into his ware. He was enthusiastic about his pottery and conveyed how special it is to him. That type of attitude is contagious. I had no doubt that I wanted one of his cups.

Segmented yunomi by Jeff Campana

Jeff forms his vessels then cuts them apart into sections. He smoothes the edges of each section then reassembles them so the sections seem to barely touch. His cutting lines become graceful, flowing designs that twine three-dimensionally from the outside to the inside then back out, up and around. The glazes catch in the seam lines, creating a subtle outline of each section that emphasizes the design work.

To form a foot, jeff grooves the inside bottom of his wall pieces like barrel staves then insets an initialed disk that becomes the bottom of the vessel. He finishes each piece by polishing the foot on a diamond pad until the vitreous porcelain gleams.

Bottom of yunomi, by Jeff Campana

I remember, back when I was learning to throw, how I was taught to achieve uniformity of wall thickness by cutting my work in half to study the cross-section. of course, cutting a bowl or vase or cup from top to bottom "ruins" it, but you learn and go on. Jeff, I think, learned this lesson so well that he focused on making thin-walled vessels thinner, then even figured out how to put his cut-apart pots back together again!

It's really how he puts his pots back together that sets him apart. There's a "rule" they teach first year pottery students. The whole purpose of a functional vessel is to hold together and not crack or leak, so we're taught to score and slip or otherwise eliminate evidences of slicing or joining. We're taught that we shouldn't rely on mere surface tack to hold our pieces together, yet Jeff some how manages to do just that (though he does admit that his failure ratio is higher than mist potters')

Interior of yunomi, by Jeff Campana

Jeff's done many things to make his work seem delicate and organic, like something that grew instead of being thrown or assembled. The smooth, thin porcelain clay body sections are tapered and rounded at the edges. He's cut a bevel on the inside of the lip. This makes his already thin-walled construction seem thinner still. The sections he's cut are all slightly different, symmetrical yet irregular, like flower petals. The tulip shape on the outside and the daisy-ray continues the theme.

I had a marvelous experience with Jeff's cup and discovered how much he relies on glaze to hold his vessels together. I was sitting on my deck, drinking from Jeff's cup, watching a sunset. I was turning the delicate form in my hands, enjoying the tactile nature of the design work. Suddenly some of the glaze-filled joints began to glow. The sunlight was shining through the glaze in a seam so it was lit from behind like stained glass. What a moment!

Yunomi by Jeff Campana

I am filled with a deep respect for what jeff Campana has accomplished. His mastery of materials and technique have produced something very special. The effort and dedication it takes to make a cup like this is not lost on me. Jeff admits that it's an extraordinary effort for production pottery, but he thinks it's worth it when people can truly appreciate everything he does and marvel at the pieces he produces.

Troy Bungart

I am also grateful to jeff for the time and attention he puts into presenting his work. If it weren't for such a fine store listing, I wouldn't have connected with his work and I would have missed the pleasure of owning and enjoying his work first hand.

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