Karina Klages Ceramics stands for fine tea ceramics,
inspired by traditional Japanese vessels, the technique of wood firing, and nature.
The artist dares to interpret Japanese tea ceramics by further developing traditional forms of origin and combining them with a rough surface or a spontaneous glaze impression.
All works are inspired by the aesthetics of Wabi-Sabi. The beauty ideal „Sabi“ becomes perfect only with the „Wabi“ feeling. Wabi does not carry perfect, immaculate, dazzling beauty, but one of stillness, a dark, subdued beauty. A beauty of maturity.
Glaze application, shapes, and haptics of the vessels should invite for viewing. To stop. Pause. Be quiet.
What is the story behind your profession and passion? What prompted you to start Karina Klages Ceramics?
My sense of beauty and my strong passion for aesthetics and everything visual led me to the University of Hanover (Germany), where I completed my graphic design studies in 2008. Creativity in many forms is part of my life, like the air I breathe.
A few years ago a graphic design job for a tea label linked me to Japanese green tea.
A little later, in 2017, I looked for an artistic, manual balance to my computer work and then started working with clay. The material and the diverse design possibilities immediately captivated me. The more I immersed myself in the ceramic work of other artists, the inevitably the path led me into the Japanese history of ceramics. Here ceramics and tea suddenly seemed to flow together and entered into a symbiosis, that gave my work a new meaning. I am highly fascinated by producing tea ceramics.
When did you first encounter the Wabi-Sabi philosophy? Did it resonate immediately?
Right at the beginning of my work with clay, I came across photographs of Japanese ceramics that had been given an incredibly beautiful surface in wood firing or that had developed a patina through their use over the years. This beauty took my breath away and continues to do so today. I haven't met many people so far who can see the beauty in these surfaces as well. Maybe it has to do with sensitivity, breakings in life or maturation processes that beauty becomes visible in the transitory. Asian cultures are much more open to this point of view.
I like the aesthetics found in Wabi-Sabi. A concept of perception of beauty that is not intrusive or loud, but a beauty of silence, maturity, and aging. There is also a certain melancholy, loneliness, sometimes loss or pain in it. Beauty rests not only in what is obviously beautiful, but also in what is hidden and imperfect.
How is the philosophy of Wabi-Sabi incorporated into the design and production of your ceramic work?
It is a great privilege to be able to work with a raw material from this earth. Clay is a weathered layer of rock that is taken from the ground. It is a product of the past, will be processed by me in the present and will survive as a fired vessel in the future. That is why it is very important to handle this material mindfully. The clay goes through many processes and this abundance of changes/adaptations also embodies the philosophy of Wabi-Sabi for me.
I try to incorporate this form of aesthetics into my work. I love to leave rough surfaces unglazed in order to allow the vessel to age and to build a patina. Everything is in the flow, everything belongs to life. Highs and lows. I want to transport a beauty that can also be found in secret. A silent beauty.
Fire is the last major transformation from a lump of clay to a usable vessel. I hope to be able to work with wood firings even more in the future. The resulting surfaces are very unique.
How do you hope users experience and connect with your work?
I imagine that my ceramics inspire the viewer to calmness and mindfulness; that the vessels are seen as art pieces on the one hand, but also be used in everyday life on the other hand. It gives me the greatest pleasure to produce one-of-a-kind pieces and I have the dream that every work of art will find the user with whom it resonates.
Many of my customers buy multiple pieces from me. And that's the biggest compliment to my work. Every artist wants to be seen and understood with his or her art; we have this insatiable need to create, but we also want to touch people. Whenever my art reaches people, this longing gets fulfilled. I am very grateful for that.
At the New Norm Magazine, we speak a lot about travel and connecting with a city through local craft and traditions. As a local creative, how would you describe living in Germany and what is your experience working as a ceramic artist there?
There are some traditional ceramic regions in Germany that have become known for their work far beyond the national borders (for example 'Höhr-Grenzhausen'). Here you can find out more about traditional pottery, admire different works, and visit museums. Workshops in larger cities, where you can learn to throw on a potter's wheel, are very popular.
I live in a rural region and I find it difficult to meet people here who understand the perspective of my aesthetics or work similarly. Sometimes I lack exchange. But there are great contacts through the Internet where conversations and inspiration are possible from afar.
It strikes me that the traditional German pottery craft often work more roughly, with more thick-walled shapes. Here I notice a difference to the Asian pottery works. I love to see how each artist develops his or her own design language within traditions, cultures, but also in their own perception.
Lastly, what’s next for you?
There is so much to learn in the field of ceramics. I suspect it will be a lifelong process that I am really looking forward to. I have learned to be patient.
I would like to create many more of my own glazes and dive deeper into the topic and details. Since I am currently firing with an electric kiln, I am excited about options that produce alternative surfaces, like a gas kiln, wood, or Raku firings. I am really looking forward to the path ahead of me and it would be an honor to have you with me on this journey.