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Yon Shik Bae
Korean folk potter

Photos courtesy Dan Gallaway.

Yon Shik Bae is a traditional potter from Maseok, South Korea. His pottery is from the Northern region of Korea. All of his works are either unglazed or only have applied slip and are fired to 1300°C. The kiln, which is called a Salgama, is fired for 5 days/120 hours. Through out the firing 15 kg of salt is thrown into the kiln resulting in a shiny surfaces. Mr. Bae is the son of You sup Bae who is a 3rd generation potter and is a considered a “National Treasure”. You sup Bae built a Gilgama for the 1988 Portland NCECA and is featured on page 54-55 of Frederick Olsen’s “The Kiln Book”.

  • 1-2.As the end of the firing nears Mr. Bae begins to cover the firebox with bricks.
  • 3. Feeding the kiln, which needs about a feed every 1-3 min.
  • 4. The firebox has been covered more now as Mr. Bae continues to feed the kiln
  • 5. A look into the Kiln after a feed.
  • 6. Through out the entire firing 15 Kg. of salt is thrown into the kiln, 3 cups approx at a time.
  • 7. The stoke holes burn thick black smoke just after Mr. Bae throws wood into the kiln.
  • 8. The firebox almost walled up with bricks and dirt is shoveled in front of it to keep heat from escaping.
  • 9-10. Looking into the kiln’s mouth
  • 11. Looking into the kiln when the mouth of the kiln is just about fully covered.
  • 12.Once the firebox is covered with bricks, the stoke holes are filled two at a time with another person on the other side of the kiln stoking.
  • 13-14. All sixteen of the holes at stoked towards the chimney. Once each hole has been stoked they are all buried underneath dirt to prevent heat from escaping.
  • 15. Inside of the potter’s studio he uses kick wheels.
  • 16-20.Mr. Bae’s work/gallery


Article: The Onggi Potters of Korea
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