Wabi Sabi, Straw Dogs & Footrings

Courtesy of Joseph Luke Fireborn

I was answering a post concerning Footrings & Kodai on Yunomi from a potter friend on Instagram who goes by JosephFireborn. Even with the lack of formatting in the reply posts I gave it my best shot. When I was finished it gave me a warning about the post being blocked by an algorithm to protect the community 🤔

In it I made the point about the aesthetic of the foot needing to match the rest of the pot. It’s not the most important part but it IS important when the potter is creating a beautiful and pleasing cup. (Sneakerheads might disagree with this concept in general)

An intricately shaped and elegantly adorned pot sitting on top of a sterile foot, or the opposite, where a blank vessel rests upon a masterpiece of a foot, for my taste it usually doesn’t make sense. There are always exceptions of course.

Courtesy of Sebastian Shuster

I think that that first the potter must grasp the technical, the rules of thumb & experiment, but ultimately what the potter is trying to hone is their intuition. The ability to bring this intuition into reality, to me, is the soul of the potter and the soul of the vessel merging. You know it when you see it but it is not something that can easily be explained or conceptualized.

This is sort of the same with the concept of Wabi-Sabi. If you’ve studied the term, it’s almost the same type of elusive yet ever present concept. (If you haven’t, I can highly recommend Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers*You know at your very core that everything is impermanent. Even the pottery we make may last a thousand years (some of mine, I hope it doesn’t lol) but it is not forever. And in that impermanence is something… Something that we can either be scared of or something that is incredibly beautiful and awe inspiring. When you see it, you are struck with a certain distinct feeling.

Another concept that I wanted to bring into the conversation was the concept of Straw Dogs from the 5th verse of the Tao Te Ching. These objects are revered and then tossed into dirt after the ceremony is completed. Its funny because they are objects and what we create are objects. The point that I was trying to make is that there is a detachment from what we create so that we are free to experiment without grief and find the ways that we are best able to bring our intuition into physical form.

Courtesy of Cory Lum

We all have our favorites: Something perfect and tight, something loose and organic, something in between, something that is an extension of the vessel, something that is separate and creates contrast and shadows. I only know it when I see it and sometimes seeing it is not enough, sometimes what I see visually feels right but the ultimate test is when you hold it. It contributes to a perfect balance, sometimes it is functional (to hold the rim and the foot when drinking something hot, a precursor to our modern handles on coffee mugs), but always it gives me a that good distinct feeling that is beyond right, and lets you know that the maker achieved something a bit magical.

Anyone have any thoughts on foot rings or kodai?

(* the above affiliate link helps me pay for web hosting and to continue bringing relevant and interesting content to the community)

2 thoughts on “Wabi Sabi, Straw Dogs & Footrings

  1. An excellent ‘first thought’ entry – need a good chair to hold me – a good cup holding a good tea & a couple of good folk – the conversation could enfold as long as the tea & back-pockets hold out ( got your post via josephLfireborn – kb

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