Saturday, April 25, 2009

shuiping 水平 or sheepish 水皮

Many Years of working as an Art Director, I tend to learn what is acceptable and what is not in artistic value... It's a matter of class and taste. How do you achieve the artistic value? I guess a quick answer is to work with more talented artists and understand and accept their individuality and visions. Through working with Martha Stewart Living 10 years ago, I have acquired a tremendous amount of respect with Photographers, Craftsmen, Designers, Stylist and Editors, most of them are true artists in their own languages....

Many people ask me about collecting art works, and often my replies are I am not a collector, but just trying to learn more about the beauty of my surroundings. The more you study and listen, the more you could enrich ones self.

So, where is this awareness have to do with this post? I had another lesson this afternoon. If people who follow Teachat might be aware, that Shuiping Yixing pots are the latest objects of my desire. Learning so much through a Yixing native, I'm inspired to do more studying of my own collection.

Here are my Shuiping pots from the 1960s onwards. Many are the "please drink" series, fake or what not included. So, what is the definition of Shui-Water, Ping-balance? In the old days, this was the so to speak graduational piece from a student to become a craftsman. All should have a comfortable form, easy on the eyes and warm in the palm. The 3 points from the tip of the spout should be aligned with the opening and to the tip of the handle. The pot should be a structure of stability and harmony. The pour should be smooth, straight and without drips. And lastly, it should be balanced on water.

Excited with the last criteria standard of water balance. I pulled out one of my Puerh storage jars and filled it with water and started the floating experiment. First, I float the body on the water surface, checking the balance of it. Then I put the lid on it. 6 of out 10 have acceptable balance, and the oldest one has a perfect score. Unfortunately, 3 capsized... one of those is the most expensive one. Picture above shows the best 3 on top, the failed 3 in the middle and the "flower series" which were acceptable. I don't expect this will be a refund or exchange reason for all of you kind readers, nor doing this test at the vendor's present. Just to show what would be the ideal Shuiping could be.

As my curious nature, and hunger for knowledge, I've been asking around for more on this subject. And most of the replies were the cost of the pot I am acquiring, the sources from the vendors, and the craftsmanship and methods of who made them. Almost 1 out of 20 shuiping from a good craftsman passes the test. And the acceptable ones are mostly made by mold or slip-casting, which lack character and clay quality. Do you then sacrifice the technical aspects and in return own an artistic creation? As for me, I would prefer the later. Owning a piece of artist soul is much more valuable than owning a mass market result.

Well, arming myself with these knowledge. 7 out of 10 pass the test could consider a very lucky odds?
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