A Favourite Cup

Gordon Hutchens wood fired cup

Happy New Year everyone!

This is one of my favourite cups from which to drink tea. I use it almost daily. Why it is a favourite should, I hope, be obvious to anyone. It has such fantastic form, decoration and colours. But also, the indentations in the cup make it easier to hold, it feels more comfortable than most cups and less like it might slip from the hand. It just feels like it was made to be in my hand, which counts for a lot.

Recently I showed high magnification macros of crystals on two of Gordon Hutchens’ pots and today I show just this one cup that I was given for a wedding anniversary present last year. Gordon is a potter based on Denman Island which is one of the Gulf Islands and located a few hours north of Victoria (see this link for his website).

This cup comes from, I am pretty sure, his Anagama wood fired kiln. This is a traditional style of Japanese kiln which climbs a hillside distributing the heat through the kiln as it rises up the slope. I would imagine it allows for a much greater volume of kiln to be fired from a fixed amount of wood – kind of like firing in a chimney. It takes about 2 days to fire. During my childhood I helped fire a wood kiln for ~8 hour firings, literally splitting whole trees into kindling to get the desired temperatures, and diving into a nearby lake to cool off many times during the day. I can’t imagine a 2 day firing and when there might be time to relax and sleep. But Gordon’s is a much more efficient kiln than the one at my family summer cottage and perhaps it only needs stoking every hour or two rather than every few minutes. The placement of a pot in the kiln relative to currents of hot air and ash creates the variations in the colour and lustre of the unglazed portions of the pot surface. It is because of these wonderfully organic variations that were I forced to choose between the many wonderful types of pottery that Gordon produces, it would have to be these wood fired pieces.

The image below is an animated gif – I have never made one before, but have wanted to give it a try. This seemed like an appropriate use in order that the variety in this cup can be clearly illustrated. The gif is composed from 39 images taken on a rotating table lit by two incandescent flood lamps placed above the camera. The cup is not perfectly centered, and thus rotates a bit off axis. And the degrees of rotation are imprecise resulting in a few uneven shifts here and there. Also, I forgot to set the camera to manual (it was in aperture priority mode with spot metering) and thus there are minor exposure differences from one image to another, all within 1 f-stop total). These are all part of the learning curve to work into improved future attempts.

I hope this file does not choke computers with a slower connection – this is quite large for a gif, both in terms of number of images and the size of the output gif. The file is about 1.5meg. Sorry if I cause some problems.

The gallery at the bottom has a few larger sized images if anyone wants to look at more detail – just click on one of the images to get a bigger size. The images in the gallery were shot a few days ago in natural light against a black background and rotated manually with cropping to realign the shot. I think I did not use a tripod either so each view is a bit different. Not such good candidates for a gif.

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Gordon Hutchens Cup

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To open the gallery view, click on any thumbnail below, navigate with the arrows and escape to return to this page.

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Canon 5Dii, Canon EF 50mm f1.4 len, ISO 100, f1.4, animated gif: various exposures between 1/200th and 1/400th second; other shots: 1/40th and 1/50th second.

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16 thoughts on “A Favourite Cup

  1. Katherine, I have a few things like that too. Representative pieces of family potters with glazes no longer used, or which have some other meaning for me. Now put out of reach for special occasions, or suspended animation as you so artfully put it (tying back to my gif animations no doubt). EDIT: this goes with the bottom set of comments with photobooth journal.

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  2. That animated gif is extraordinary. No problems loading on my laptop. True hand-made pottery is always a joy. There’s something special in owning something that is unique – a one-off. I can see the attraction in this cup – each day you can view it from a different angle and see new colours and new shapes.

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    • Thanks Lynn! Glad it is working for people, though I have not yet heard from the ones that have had problems downloading my blog in the past (I tried to trim my blog down by making my images smaller, using galleries more and by having many fewer posts show on the home page, which seems to have made a big difference. This is a bit of a step backwards in the size department – but I think a step forward in terms of information presentation.

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    • Thanks Ella. The new header image is a detail from one of the crystalline glaze macros I presented a few days ago – on a plate made by Gordon. I think it is only up for today to go with this pot. I prefer a more neutral header most of the time.

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    • Happy New Year Katherine (again!!). I am glad you like the cup, and that it is used. Sadly, they get broken from time to time and a pot like this just can’t be replaced. But it is better in the hand a few hundred times and then broken, than shut away in a cupboard. The animation is serviceable as a first attempt, but I know I can do better the next time one is called for.

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      • I look forward to seeing more animations. I love using my hand made things. I had 6 hand painted pasta bowls from a well established ceramic artist, which I used for more than 10 years. One by one they got chipped and broken. I only have one left – locked in a cupboard. I cannot bear to think it too will go, so he has been put into suspended animation!

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