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STUDYING SOIL FROM AN AESTHETIC POINT OF VIEW
Graphic of the island Bornholm. The red marks are the (approximate) geographical locations, where soil is collected.
BORNHOLM Bornholm is a Danish island in the middle of the Baltic Sea. While the island only covers 1,3 % of the land of Denmark, it is also geologically the most copious land surface of Denmark. The island hosts bedrocks from the Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic and the Cenozoic era. Bornholm is rich in raw materials and this has in the past created an abundance of for example ceramic and rock industries. Today the island earns the title 'World Craft Region' for its quality and abundance of craft studios. Our research on the earthly materials started on Bornholm years ago, now we call Bornholm our home. Find us at Grønnegade 5 in Nexø where we officially open our studio this summer. BORNHOLM - ICELAND - JAPAN SOIL CONNECTIONS On Bornholm, in Iceland and Japan we collected over a hundred samples from across the islands. The past exhibition Soil Connections in glass and ceramics unearths our experimental processing of soil excavated in Japan, Iceland and on Bornholm. The soil is dug in various landscapes and represents geological ages from ancient Cambrian to the human-dominated Anthropocene era we are now believed to be in. Step into our studio and dig into the diverse expression of soil in glass and ceramics in terms of shades, textures and viscosity based on origin. Experience the influence of the working process - filtration, mixing ratios and melting points - unfolded in objects in both glass and ceramics.
ICELAND In June 2019 we travelled across Iceland for geological sights from stone desserts to boiling soils. We met soil-scientist Olafur Arnalds in Reykjavik who helped us navigate the landscape and to find soil with specific geological properties to Iceland. "Icelandic soils are Andosols, soils that form in volcanic ejecta, but such soils are common within the volcanic regions on Earth. However, intense aeolian activity, the basaltic nature of the volcanic materials, intense cryoturbation, and the extensive sandy deserts set the Icelandic soil environments apart from other volcanic areas", says Olafur Arnalds in his book Soils of Iceland. The Icelandic soil have a high clay content. When we zoom in on these clay-particles we can see a significant difference compared to clay-particles found elsewhere in Europe. The microscopic clay-particles from Icelandic soil are round in form instead of flat discs as seen when we zoom into the clay-particles we find in Europe. This is because Icelandic soils are very young and have not had the development in time and the pressure the often millions of years old clay-rich soils we for instance find on Bornholm. We collected over 30 samples from across the island. A selection of these soils gives us 26 soil-glazes. These soil-glazes are now decorating porcelain vessels 'mapping' the ceramic Icelandic colours.
Soil-glazes developed from soil collected in Iceland. top left: Icelandic landscape. Top right: Soil flask with Icelandic soil, photo from our archive. Bottom: Porcelain flask decorated with Icelandic soil. Photo by Dorte Krogh for Danish Crafts & Design Association.
JAPAN From April to June 2018 we worked as apprentices at Peter Ivy's studio in Toyama and travelled across Japan for geological sights. We work with the ceramic materials: glass and ceramics. In Japan we were fortunate to meet Peter Ivy (glass master, Toyama), Jissei Omine (ceramics master, Okinawa), Hatada Yoshito (lampworking master, Osaka), Takakuni Kawahara (paper master, Tateyama), Yamada Satoko (ceramics master, Tateyama), Takeshi Ogino (lacqer master, Tateyama), Tsuguhira Toma (farmer, Okinawa), Jyunji Murakami (gallerist, Okinawa), Yukio Shakunaga (ceramics master, Tateyama) and Shigeru Toyoshima (coldworking master, Osaka) who helped us gaining a deeper understanding of Japanese craft traditions, the Japanese material heritage and geological properties. In Peter Ivy's studio we got the opportunity to develop a glass with a ceramic expression - researching and developing glass that reveals its material compositions - as a material coming straight from the earth as well as creating a Japanese glass palette narrating the surroundings, without the use of unhealthy chemistry. We wish to emphasise the "ceramic" approach to our work in glass. We apply soils "hands-on" to our glass melts - a work method that has been dominating in the Japanese ceramic tradition. Applying soils from different regions, results in a range of different colours in glass - grains of sand, small stones, and bobbles are visual in the glass and creates the ceramic expression we are aiming for.
Glass material developed from soil collected from the Toyama Prefecture. This glass together with nine others and 22 crucibles are exhibited at Grønbechs Gård at our exhibition Soil Connections.

© GERNER JAHNCKE 2021