French "Milk Jug" Puisaye, Lower Burgundy, 19th cent. H. 24 cm.

The solid beauty of pots like this jug refresh the soul.
I admire the integrity and craftsmanship of the potters who without
much ado, but not without pride, threw walls around storage space.
So often Johnny and I would find pots like this one in French junk yards.
Eagerly we would carry them home, free them from dust and dirt and
place them next to our other Puisaye treasures.


Retired potter Mr. Raymond Gaubier - Cadet - summer 1971 in front of his climbing kiln in St. Amand en Puisaye.


In the early nineteen sixties Johnny and I saw “country pottery” from the Berry in France
Unsophisticated, unpretentious, true pots, vigorous and sturdy, and wonderfully rich in their natural wood fired stoneware state.
They won our hearts, the moment we met them.

The inauguration of our own tiny "deux cheveaux" delivery van in 1971 was a journey to St. Amand en Puisaye, Lower Burgundy,
one of the potter villages in that wooded, tough region, that was rich in clay.
There we saw the climbing kilns and the pottery fired in them, and one retired old master potter.
There, too, time had said farewell to the potters contribution to the daily life of community and country.

In junkyards and on farms though, we found many an old pot, some aged well over two hundred years.
We brought them all home, and enraptured by their presence we baptized  them “food for our soul”.




In 1974 in Ichon, Korea we met the very Korean colleagues, or should I say the very brothers
of those French Puisaye potters.

These Onggi potters were still going strong, making their pots,
onggi pots for the national, daily Korean diet of kimchi.
We could watch, and follow these masters at work.
This was the root experience of classical handwork, and the most enriching encounter with a craftsman artisan possible.

There I understood, how pots are born, brought to life in hands that bring forward the best they can create
in swift and sure movements.
to supply the family, the community waiting for their gifts.

Through them I knew the artisans, who built the French Cathedrals, the temples of the Far East,
and everything, that uplifts heart and mind of mankind.

Then I dreamed, that I saw all the Kimchi pots produced in one single potters life, quietly climb one on top of the other.
That stable pile grew and grew high into the sky, the top went out of sight and maybe reached heaven,
the “heaven” of their inspiration.


Onggi pots in the south of South Korea, July 1974.
Cleaned they are waiting the Kimchi vegetables, which stored in them will ferment in the late summer and the winter sun
to offer the family their healthy, tasty meals.


  Onggi pots not only provide storage space for Kimchi,
they also provide sturdy walls to live behind.


Strong pots, strong walls.


In a potters family yard Kimchi pots wait their task.
Across the road the climbing kiln of a neighbor potter.
                                      Under here umbrella Johnny takes in these wonderful surroundings.                                

Slides from July 1974

Amsterdam August 2009