Slash Career “/” multiple career Tea Potter

Wenzhuo Liu

Nowadays, more and more young people are no longer satisfied with the lifestyle of “single career”, but begin to experience a richer and more diversified life through multiple careers. More people define themselves with identities related to hobbies and spare time life, not just positions at work. One can have more than one profession and method of living. Karina Klages would talk about her multiple identities and how tea and ceramic making have influenced her diversified life.

 

You studied communication design. Why did you start making pottery? Is it your main business now or more as a graphic designer?

My sense of beauty and my strong passion for aesthetics led me to the University of Hannover (Germany), where I completed my graphic design studies in 2008. Creativity in many forms is part of my life like the air I breathe. Since university I worked as a freelance graphic designer and a few years ago I also started working with clay. At first I just wanted to work with my hands, I was looking for a balance from working on a computer, but working with the medium clay deeply captivated me. The creation became very intensive and now I work in both forms of art.

Why make teawares? I think you started to make tea sets for some European tea shops in 2018. Last year, you started to make tea sets for Chinese companies for the first time. Have you ever been to or learned about China’s famous ceramic cities such as Jingdezhen and Yixing?

My first association with tea came from a graphic design job creating a corporate identity for a Japanese green tea label. I remember the day we photographed all the different teas and then got to taste them cup by cup. This was a nice and new experience. After that I started drinking tea (first Japanese green teas, later on I also tested Chinese teas and other ones) and when I started working with clay, the first thing I wanted to realize was teaware. To this day tea ceramics are a big source of inspiration for me.

I’m not a professional/tea sommelier. My perspective is that of art and the joy of ceramics first. I love to drink tea, I love its complexity and simplicity. I love the calmness and the dancing tea leaves in the vessel. I love tasting different teas and the using of my own created vessels.

I never dared to sell to the Asian market. This came about organically. I first made tea ceramics for myself and gradually there was a demand on Instagram. I started with Japanese-inspired Shiboridashi and shortly thereafter there was a demand for Gaiwan forms as well. So I started working on that too. Until now I haven’t been able to visit China and the famous pottery areas. 

You mentioned Japanese wabisabi. You also made Chinese ceramic tea sets. Do you know Chinese tea and Chinese tea ceremony?

I appreciate the tradition of tea very much and also appreciate the processes of a tea ceremony, but I’m not professional trained as a tea artist in the traditional way of tea. I’m interested in watching videos or reading articles about it to get closer to the idea of a tea artist. In general I’m looking on tea more from the perspective of a ceramic artist and really like to drink tea at home in a more „casual“ way out of great created vessels ;-). Silence and beauty in this are everything to me. 

I saw that you like to leave fingerprints and other marks on the pottery. Did you find the inspiration from which ancient ceramic?

For sure, from an art historical view, old ceramic finds tell enormous stories. For me it is a very spiritual act to leave fingerprints and marks in my vessels, because they could be on the clay potentially for ten thousand years. There is always a story to be told. Clay has a memory and it always remembers the mark of the artist. 

Short introduction about yourself, your current and future projects.

I’m a nature lover, a creative and art interested person in search of authenticity. As you can read here a huge inspiration for me are tea ceramics, but also sculptural work. I will work on this more often in the future. I think these two areas can stimulate and advance each other in a good way. I’m always looking for new textures and structures, natural inspired glazed and surfaces. The field of ceramics offers so many possibilities and ideas that it will be difficult for me to run out of them.

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