About Kiln in the paddy

How long is twenty-six years? A newborn can grow into a mature adult, and the same goes for the Kiln in the Paddy. From a time-point perspective, the ceramic studio went through three main stages sorted by the firing methods:

  • 1987-1996 electric kiln only
  • 1996-2005 electric and gas-fired kilns
  • Since 2005 woodfiring (anagama) kiln joined the studio

Started in Taipei in 1987, the couple Hsu Hsing-long and Hong Ying-chi were restricted by the dense urban environment, the only option for the studio was the small scale electric kiln, in which the pottery is only created with the elements of heating and glazing.

After almost a decade, to further enhance their work, the studio moved to the town of Yangmei, an hour away from the bustling Taipei. Adding the gas-fired kiln, the element of firing is added to the works.

Further on, with the addition of the woodfiring anagama kiln, the superficial addition of glazing is no longer needed, as the heating of and the color tone of the pottery are all finished with the natural elements of fire and ash.

The studio’s first woodfiring kiln was built in rural Sinwu, twenty-minute from the studio’s current location in Yangmei, at the rice paddy surrounded ancestral home where Hsu grew up, hence thename of the studio.

The Mandarin name for the studio, 下田窯 /shia-tian-yao/, literally means “the kiln of working in the rice paddy”, but in fact Shia-tian is the name of the village where Hsu’s family home is located.

The couple, Hsu Hsing-long and Hong Ying-chi met while majoring in arts at the Chinese Culture University in Taipei, fell in love with each other and potter; married and decided pottery being their creative focus.

But the duo’s reasons of choosing pottery are quite different.

The more rational Hsu thought the only type of creative art that can also provide bread for the family is pottery making, while the perceptual Hong thought both of them bearing the element of “earth” in feng shui and Chinese Cosmology, they have to become pottery artists.

Using the round ceramic ware shape by the potter’s wheel as his archetype, Hsu made the teapots that brew the smoothest of tea; Hong on the other hand, hand-shape her works into lively sculpture of animals and even human. The duo crosses paths from time to time, where the roundness of Hsu’s teapots, teacups, storage jars are broken by the vitality of Hong’s animal sculptures.

Twenty-six years has passed by, and another (or even two) twenty-six years is waiting ahead. The duo and the studio have grown and matured, ready to shed their creative energy further.