GORN CERAMICS: Celebrating an Ancient Art of Ceramics

In today's fast-paced and chaotic world, we don't always pay attention to what's happening around us. Sometimes, it is so important to pause, take a deep breath, and look around. Nature and the world around us are a source of endless inspiration, and it is this principle that inspires the products of the brand GORN Ceramics we will present in this interview. GORN Ceramics is a collaboration of ceramics masters and workshops from Ukraine, specializing in creating unique elements of decor, design, and art objects from clay. The brand’s co-founders, artist-ceramist Yuriy Myrko and art director Bogdan Kryvosheya, believe that real art radiates emotions and the inner world of the artist. He fills his creations with his own energy, and any artistic item can influence people with the energy put into it when it is created. 

Join us as we delve into a captivating conversation with the GORN Ceramics’ ceramist Yuriy Myrko, and explore the essence of their extraordinary creations.

1. What is the idea behind your brand?

Our brand's core concept is crafting ceramics with deep meaning and sincere intention. We strive to fill people's homes with positive energy and promote a broader worldview. Furthermore, our mission involves popularizing and celebrating ceramics, highlighting its rich and diverse history. Beyond the conventional perception of clay pots, ceramics is an ancient and multifaceted art form that deserves wider recognition and appreciation.

2. Why did you give your brand such a name? 

Our brand's name comes from a unique wood-fired ceramic kiln known as "gorn" in Ukrainian. This kiln is the heart of our workshop, forming the basis of our ceramics. The firing process within this kiln is both ancient and captivating, carrying some sense of mystery. Traditionally, ceramics fired within such kilns are considered authentic and genuine.

GORN CERAMICS items inside of the wood-fired ceramic kiln

3. What traditional crafting techniques do you incorporate into your products?

We currently use three techniques. The main one is hand sculpting, where we create shapes from clay by hand. It aligns with our brand's philosophy of preserving authenticity and infusing each piece with our personal touch and energy. Besides, I appreciate the organic shapes of handmade items. Occasionally, we use a potter's wheel, although less frequently now. This device was designed for mass production, which isn't our focus; we emphasize uniqueness. Also, we sometimes use gypsum molds, especially for crafting ceramic tiles.

4. Where do you get the raw materials for your ceramics?

Our raw materials come from two primary sources: the ones we buy and those we extract ourselves in collaboration with our artisans. We used to buy from the Slavic plant in the Donetsk region, but its production stopped due to the full-scale invasion. Nevertheless, we still have some stocks. Another source I particularly favor is self-extracted clay. For me, as an artist, the material holds great significance. While some view clay as simple, I disagree and hold a deep respect for it. I even consult with clay before crafting a piece. We discover the places of clay deposits through personal connections, friends, relatives, or experienced artisans in Opishnia, Poltava region, where I come from. Personally, I have a strong preference for raw materials I extract myself. The products created from these materials possess a distinct energy, setting them apart from those made of technical clay. In my opinion, modern accessibility kills creativity, so I'm even happy that sometimes it can be complicated to find clay.

5. How do you train future craftsmen in your workshop? Who are your students?

When we initially founded the brand, our vision included establishing a centralized workshop to attract artists from all corners of Ukraine. However, this idea proved to be quite challenging, and we realized that those genuinely interested in mastering this craft would naturally find us. As a result, our students now primarily consist of our close friends and acquaintances.

During our workshops, we don't just impart knowledge and skills in various techniques; we also closely observe our students' inclinations and adapt accordingly, aiming to unlock their unique potential. We do not want our students to copy their masters, so during the learning process, we encourage them to interpret each piece from their own perspective.

In addition, it is essential for us that our students share our values, think outside the box, and seek deeper meanings in life. The Gorn workshop stands as a sacred space, intolerant of negativity or impolite behavior, which requires internal and external cleanliness.

6. Can you tell us about a real-life case of how your products have changed other people's views on ceramics?

Around 8 years back, before Gorn was even established, I sold my ceramics in various parts of Ukraine, including Alushta in Crimea. One day, a family visited the shop where my works were displayed. Despite their prior disinterest in ceramics, they were drawn to my works and bought one of them. And then it was like some magic happened: they returned multiple times, buying literally several boxes of my ceramics. They were so fascinated by this art that they looked at it from a wholly different perspective, thanks to my products, which had a deep meaning and their own unique energy.

7. Tell us about the step-by-step process of manufacturing one piece.

Let me walk you through the creation process of one of our most popular items: Makyvka Vase. It all begins with an idea. Drawn from the plant's appearance, the name and form of the product pay homage to the poppy (makyvka) plant. The next phase involves selecting suitable raw materials, and for this particular piece, I sourced "living clay," extracted personally. The most exciting step follows – crafting the vase using hand sculpting. Each piece made this way is inherently distinct due to the nature of manual creation. Subsequent stages involve drying and, if needed, coating with angoba—a blend of white clay and glaze. The products are then placed in an oven, either electric or wood-fired, the latter being my personal preference. Sometimes, firewood is collected up to a year ahead to ensure proper drying, and the firing process can span about 20 hours. Afterward, the pieces must harden and undergo thorough inspection for any defects or potential corrections. Depending on customer preferences, we might also apply a unique shade by adding a glaze coating.

GORN Ceramics offers truly unique products that can fill your home with positive energy and reconnect you with nature. Be sure to explore their wide catalog of distinctive pieces on their website.  

For more handcrafted brands, visit spendwithukraine.com.

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