UPCYCLED CERAMICS: Yingge Ceramics Museum 2014 (Part 2)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast week, I posted part 1 of our trip to the Yingge Ceramics Museum. I wanted to do a separate post for the upcycled ceramics because it was so fascinating. I was afraid if I tried to put everything in one post, it would be way too long. This upcycled stuff is awesome, and I didn’t want anyone to miss out by cramming it in with a lot of other stuff.

If you’re not familiar with upcycling, it involves taking an item–whether it be a piece of clothing or furniture, or some other item that   Here is a link to a blog post about someone who upcycled a couple headboards to make a Mickey Mouse bench. And if you’d like to see another sample, check out this blog post with an upcycled tire clock. I really like how a used item and a few supplies and some creativity creates something much more artistic and sophisticated than the sum of its parts.

The closest I come to upcycling is when I salvaging cotton fabric from outdated clothing for use in my quilting projects. I am fascinated to read about how fellow quilters make use of their scraps, unrealized ideas, and “mistakes” to create new ideas and projects. However, until last week’s trip to the third floor of the Yingge Ceramic Museum, I had never thought about the “scraps and mistakes” that ceramicists have to deal with. They can actually have things break, shatter beyond repair. As we wandered through the exhibit, I was fascinated how these artists have found ways to incorporate these bits of “scrap” ceramics to upscale their designs and take them to new levels.

I have a few closeups of some of these seven upcycled pieces, but first, I’ll show you the view of the whole display. It looks like they are on a shiny reflective surface, but actually what you are seeing is water. The inner surface of this case is black, and so it looks like these objects are on a black reflective surface until you look closer and realize they look like they are floating in the water. 10403199_800296353325751_4825507233357346044_n

In between each of the main pieces, you will notice that there are plates positioned around the edge of the display tank. These plates are broken or have some defect, which is then altered by adding a piece from another broken dish. The effect is quite amazing.

Here are two of them closer up.


It’s hard to do justice with a camera phone, but you get the idea. All these scraps and broken pieces of pottery used to create stunning displays that focus on characters who have striking detail. Now for some closer views of the individual pieces.





There is so much detail in this one. It’s hard to take it all in. You can see some of the imperfections in the plate that is in this photo, but it’s still beautiful.




I particularly like the way these figures seem to be moving.



I hope you enjoyed the exhibit. It made me think a lot about recycling and upcycling, particularly for artists and their materials.

Have you done any upcycling? Or been the recipient of someone’s upcycling efforts?

I’ll have one more part of the exhibit to show you in another post.

Thanks for stopping by!

Yingge Ceramics Museum 2014 Visit: Part 1

10357197_800301846658535_124676647032877771_nAs mentioned yesterday, today I went to the Yingge Ceramics Museum.  (The link will take you to the English version of their website. I met Rena and Matthew (see left) at the Taoyuan train station this morning to catch a 9:25 train to Yingge, the next station north as you’re headed to Taipei. We were on the train less than ten minutes. Right outside the station, we hailed a taxi for a short ride to the museum.

The first two floors of the museum have permanent exhibits that show the history of ceramics in Taiwan. The different fuels, different kinds of kilns, and samples of various kinds of pottery. You can walk right into a model of a kiln to see where everything fits and how the cars move on the rails through it. You can see a large wagon filled with ceramic wares that would be transported to various markets. There are video displays that explain things in detail.  You can also check out an audio set (in Chinese or English). Then as you walk through the museum, many of the cases and displays indicate the number for the audio explanation of that item or section. You punch it in on a phone pad and hold it up to your ear and can learn about all kinds of interesting facts.

I think that my favorite part of the first two floors is the section  of two facing walls that has a series of tiles showing samples of the various ways they add decorative elements to clay. Next time I go, I’ll have to get a picture of those walls. But what I do have pictures of items from the third floor. The third floor has special exhibitions that rotate. So this floor was totally different from my last visit. It featured items related to 3-D imaging and copying, and the way technology is advancing ceramics into new areas. I learned in another area that ceramics can be used as semiconductors, chips, and other electronic components.

But the place where I really had a lot of fun was the part of the exhibit that shows what artists and ceramicists are doing in terms of the environment, especially with upcycling ceramics. Today, I’ll show you the arrangement that is behind Rena and Matthew above. I’ll also show you a few photos of work that is a ceramic version of origami. Next time, I’ll show you my favorites of the upcycling collection.

10561644_800295856659134_8912544092664874026_nI love how the leg of this table is a stack of coffee mugs. There are many little lamps with cups as the “shades.” Not seen in this photo are plates made into clocks.  Below is another view with yours truly.

10525827_800295839992469_4165168695356585230_nNow you can see one of the clocks made from a ceramic plate (on the far left).


A table of ceramic origami. It’s hard to believe these aren’t paper. They look so incredibly delicate, as you can see better in the close-up below.


And for tonight’s “weird” entry, I give you a ceramic arrangement called simply, “Traditional babies”


OK, and since we were feeling silly, and we didn’t understand this piece at all, we staged an additional dose of silly.


See you next time with some really interesting upcycled stuff. In the meantime, ask yourself, what would you do if you had lots of broken pottery to find a home for?


As an aside, to give you an idea of costs: the train ride was the equivalent of 50 cents US, each way. The taxi ride to and from the museum was about $3 US each way. Admission to the museum was free. So for $9 US, we had a lovely cultural outing.

Containers of Surprise (and Delight)

Invitations: Potential “Surprise” Holders


invitation (Photo credit: Theis Kofoed Hjorth)

This blog post was not planned. The photos and words are the result of a day of surprises. They arrived in an invitation, in a new day, in a museum, and in the art it held. The surprises actually began yesterday. My husband and I were already out on an outing with our friend, Steve–an outing of “Western” proportions, involving Costco, Starbucks, and IKEA. Luckily, Steve and Dave were going to hang out at Steve’s apartment between Costco and IKEA, which gave me time to get some work done at Starbucks. That was my compromise for taking an afternoon away, to get a couple hours of work done sometime during the day, and the guys didn’t mind.

While I was sipping my iced latte and working on a literature review, my cell phone rang. I was surprised to see it was my regular taxi driver, Mac, calling. Surprised because classes don’t start until next week, and I didn’t really expect to hear from him until then. But as he’s done in the past, he and his wife wanted to take Dave and me on an outing the next morning. The connection was awful and I couldn’t make out everything Mac was saying, but I did get that they would pick us up at 9:00 and something about the afternoon. If he gave me specifics about where we were going, I didn’t make them out.

A New Day: More Surprises

English: Taipei County Yingge Ceramics Museum ...

Taipei County Yingge Ceramics Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I woke up thinking I probably should have declined the invitation and stayed home to get more work done, but the one thing my moratorium allows for is social events. The reason is I tend to hole up too often and not get out and do fun things. So I got ready, but wasn’t really looking forward to it. But my reluctance changed quickly to excitement when Mac greeted us with the plan for the morning. We got into his SUV (not the taxi) and headed to Yingge Ceramics Museum in New Taipei City. Dave did a lot of ceramics in college and I love anything in arts and crafts. In fact, this was a place on my “wish” list, and we were on our way! I was glad that I had not talked myself out of going.

Museums: Another Kind of “Surprise” Container

Three floors of exhibits and more out in the back of the main building. We did not get through everything in the 2 1/2 hours we spent there. Here’s a view of the open space from the third floor.


Beyond the amazing exhibits, there were loads of other surprises in this museum. For starters, admission is free! Not just on special days or at the holiday time, but always. Even the audio tour players and head sets were free. You left your ID card with them; you could punch in numbers at various exhibits to hear lots of details. They had the audio sets available in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, English, and one especially for children. There may have been others, but you get the idea.

Some of the exhibits were so delicate, I had to remind myself that they were ceramic. For example, this piece, Unread Books, looked so real that I could almost picture the pages turning.


Another piece I really enjoyed. The English title is something like, Look Up and See the Blue Sky.


And the kitty lover in me couldn’t resist the whimsical rendering of cats in the afternoon sun.



Surprises in Art

A huge kimono type garment hung in the museum. It was exquisite. It was clearly, decorative only. It’s hard to get a sense of the scale from this picture, but let’s just say that it was too large for any one to wear. The real surprise of this piece though are the thousands of ceramic butterflies sewn (or clipped) to the cloth. (No clear indication of how they are attached.)


Prepare to be amazed!


The sheer volume of these butterflies and the size of this piece of art are just breathtaking. The museum makes great use of lighting to highlight many of these pieces.

Another surprise was a piece with an English title, Sad Child with Short Wings. I’m not going to try to figure it out. But it was cool looking. Stands about 15 inches high. (In this photo, it appears a little bigger than life.)  hehe


My Personal Art Surprise

This piece had an English name of Dilemma. As I looked at it, I was baffled. People kneeling in a circle facing one another, holding their dismembered heads in their hands. Two of them had empty hands and one head was on the ground. I thought the dilemma pertained to some sick game of “Musical Heads” in which a head is taken away before they start the music back up, and that the dilemma was how to decide who leaves the game, or who no longer has a head. Like I say, I was baffled. You take a look! (The lighting for this piece makes it hard to get a good picture, but I think you get the idea.)


I turned to my husband and told him my insane “theory,” and he asked me if I had listened to the audio for it. I didn’t realize that one had an audio, so I was excited. He told me the number of that entry, #94. I don’t think I’ll ever forget. When you enter 9-4-Enter, you hear the story of this ceramic piece. Here’s the English version.

With no more strength to move forward, those people melt down. Each looked around and found that the others were in distress as well. They had no one to help them. When looking forward, they only saw a pitch black road that led to uncertainty. When looking backward, they found the road they just took had disappeared. So where to go and what to be? “That’s too painful. Could I not think about that?” they cried out! And they pulled off their heads.

WOW! And I thought MY interpretation was a little odd. I think desperation of that sort would go beyond “dilemma” to something more, well, desperate. I thought about the times I get frustrated and don’t know what to do next, but pulling my head off isn’t usually in the list of options. The words of the people, “That’s too painful. Could I not think about that?” was done with such a whiny tone, too. Once I heard this interpretation, I knew that I had to include it in tonight’s post. So let me know what you think about it in the comments below.

So that was our unplanned trip to the ceramics museum. Our hosts only had the morning for the outing, but Dave and I could have spent the day. We didn’t even get through all the exhibits and demonstrations. We are already looking forward to a trip back when we can spend the whole day. Dave already found out the museum is a ten-minute walk from the train station. I’m sure I’ll have more things to share. Until then, look up and enjoy the blue sky!  :