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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  CHAMBERS John--Salt-glazed Ceramics                                                            

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CHAMBERS John--Salt-glazed Ceramics


John CHAMBERS

Born: Pasadena, in 1942
Medium: Stoneware and salt-glazed ceramics

After receiving his degree from Princeton, John Chambers did graduate studies for the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in French and Comparative Literature at Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley, and received a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship in 1965. He then changed directions and began doing ceramics in 1968. John moved to an old farmhouse near Sebastopol in Sonoma County in 1972, where he still lives and maintains a studio. He taught ceramics, sculpture and design at Dominican College in San Rafael from 1969 to 1998.

John’s original designs explore the range of colors and textures possible in the salt-glazed medium. Either rock salt or bicarbonate of soda is flung into the kiln when the firing reaches its peak at 2300 degrees Fahrenheit. Vaporizing of the sodium creates the rich textures and colors in a relatively unpredictable fashion. Salt-glazing is essentially a corrosive process--causing the characteristic eroded, pock-marked look, sometimes called “orange-peel.” Colors and textures vary dramatically with the vagaries of the draft within the kiln, how much a pot is shielded by shelving or other pots, and the distance from the flames which are brought in on only one side. Close to the fire, marking is very pronounced and radical color changes occur, often at the risk of the pot, because the heat is so intense.

In fact, risk and unpredictability are the essence of salt-glazing. Pieces are thrown into the middle of a savage storm, and it isn’t known until the kiln is opened whether you’ll find Wonder or Woe. The effects are similar to that from the traditional kilns of Bizen and Iga in Japan. These individual works may be designed as functional pieces for daily use, for application in the Japanese Tea Ceremony, or decorative and sculptural pieces meant to enhance special sites.

He and his wife Sanae were fond of old Japanese Samurai films, and as a result John has done a series of lidded pots that reflect the textural elements found in the armor of medieval warriors. Depending on size they are humorously named samurai pots, foot soldier pots and peasant pots.

Exhibits:
Salzbrand Keramik, Koblenz, Germany
The Wichita National, Wichita Center for the Arts, Kansas
California Small Works, California Museum of Art, Santa Rosa
More than Clay: The Toki Collection of Ceramic, Richmond Art Center
California Design XII, Pasadena Museum of Art
Ceramics and Beyond, Gallery Dai Ichi Arts, New York City
Ware for Chanoyu, the Japanese Tea Ceremony & Tea Bowl Invitational, San Francisco
California Works, California State Fair, Sacramento--Award of Merit
Several One-person shows, Dominican College, San Rafael
Dream Vessels, Gualala Arts Dolphin Gallery, Gualala
All Salt: A National Exhibition of Salt-Glazed Ceramics, Mill Valley--Merit Award
California Ceramics and Glass, The Oakland Museum

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