The First Bát Tràng Museum of Ceramic art by
national artist vũ thắng
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The First Bát Tràng Museum of Ceramic art by
national artist vũ thắng
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Ceremic boots

From the idea of a bespoke artwork to display at a cultural event, Artisan Vu Thang has created a series of masterpieces – 12 ceramic boots, inspired by high fashion boots.

Molding clay into boots is difficult but firing at 1200 degrees Celsius and keeping the shape intact is even more difficult. Despite having half a century of experience, he still had to try dozens of times, and it took six months of feats to find the solution. Overcoming the technical hurdles, he experimented with colors, tricks, and patterns. The creative inspiration did not end there. He continued to mix many new enamel colors and applied more complex and sophisticated techniques to the products.

Article by Phạm Quỳnh Châu
Photograph by Đỗ Sỹ

Presented at Đẹp Fashion Show in 2011, his works surprised the audience by the miraculously enchanting beauty of ceramic boots – an unexpectedly rustic material.

The boots are handcrafted one piece at a time, therefore every single boot is one – of – a kind. 47.5 cm high, 17 cm wide, 2.5 kg weight, the heel and toe box of the boot are copper-coated to create stability.

The boot itself is already a beautiful shape with elegant curves, so it just needs some additional patterns to become a perfect work”, he said.

The traditional ceramic techniques, such as embossed patterns, debossed textures, and enamel color schemes, are common ones.. The same clay, the same kaolinite, the same mixing and color overlay techniques; however, to get to such a fanciful level requires decades of mastery experience. Many natural materials such as dried lotus, silk, and silver yarn are combined to create the unique features for each work.  Material diversity, exotic combination, virtuoso techniques, the twelve masterpieces in the end still embrace a pure and passionate soul of Vietnamese pottery.. With such diversity, nevertheless, those twelve shades still embrace a pure and passionate soul of Vietnamese pottery.

For those reasons, Vu Thang’s twelve boots can be seen as the meeting of tradition and modernity, marking the beginning of the relationship between ceramics and fashion.

#1

Brown glazed ceramic, creating an imitation copper surface effect. The highlight is The artisan uses the engraving technique, lotus, and flower string motifs inspired by brown flower ceramics of the Ly – Tran dynasties in the XI – XIV centuries, decorated with the dried lotus petals on the collar. The boot is highlight with the white silkworm cocoons and elaborately wooden beads  attached on the side of the boot, covering the entire toe box The combination of soft, endlessly winding flower strings on a monochromatic brown background, with the highlight of a  blossoming lotus, creates its elegant and classic beauty.

#2

Turquoise glazed ceramic, using the engraving technique., Llotus and flower string motifs originated from brown flower ceramics of the Ly – Tran dynasties in the XI – XIV centuries.
The color overlay technique is applied delicately. First, the boot is coated with a layer of enamel, engraved with motifs, then overlaid with many other layers of enamel until the color reaches the fanciful depth of the artist’s idea.
The highlight of the work is the toe box intricately attached with a variety of materials: dried lotus calyx, wooden beads, and lacquered silkworm cocoons.

#3

Ivory glazed ceramic is, one of the traditional enamel colors of Bat Trang. The boot is hand-painted directly on the ceramic body to get the ancient indigo color to permeate the ceramic, then covered with an ivory-white glaze.
The boot’s body is painted with a flowery pattern, inspired by the phrase “Nhan sinh bach nghe” (“a hundred of professions”), symbolizing the prosperity of the professions of Vietnamese people.

#4

This is another experiment of the artisan with the color overlay technique. The boot is coated with a layer of enamel, engraved with motifs, then overlaid with many other layers of enamel. Due to the diverse variations among enamel colors, the work is always one-of-a-kind.

#5

The color overlay technique continues to be the favorite field of the artisan Vu Thang. The boot is coated with a layer of enamel, engraved with motifs, then overlaid with many other layers of enamel. The layers of enamel overlapped and transformed under the influence of heat, which has long been a unique feature of his works.
The highlight of this boot is the silver-encrusted toe box. Silver is pulled in thin threads to create floral patterns and encrusted on the ceramic boot.

#6

Brown glazed ceramic, using the color overlay technique.
The boot is coated with a layer of enamel, engraved with motifs, then overlaid with many other layers of enamel. Unlike traditional patterned boots, this time, the artisan engraved orchid motifs with liberal, elegant, and modern features on the boot. Orchids symbolize the beauty of spring and are also a symbol of the spirit of freedom.

#7

Ivory glazed ceramic, one of the traditional enamel colors of Bat Trang.
The boot is hand-painted directly on the ceramic body to get the ancient indigo color to permeate the ceramic, then covered with an ivory-white glaze.
The body of the boot is meticulously painted with fish scales, the toe box of the boot shows the image of a lively, divine carp head. A motif inspired by the ancient fairy tale “The Legend of the Dragon’s Gate” combined with a modern fashion item, miraculously becomes greatly relevant and brings new emotions.

#8

Ivory glazed ceramic, the boot is hand-painted directly on the ceramic body to get the ancient indigo color to permeate the ceramic, then covered with an ivory-white glaze.
The great wave pattern painted on the boot symbolizes the succession of generations.
The carefully calculated contrast between the indigo color of the waves and the ivory color of the background creates an elegant and youthful work.

#9

Blue glazed ceramic, using the color overlap technique. The boot is covered with a layer of enamel, engraved with motifs, then overlaid with many other layers of enamel to create shades.
The artisan restrained the overlap technique on this boot, which creates the perfect background for the floral pattern engraved in a mesh pattern along with the boot. It is reminiscent of the classic Western leather boots.

#10

Ivory glazed ceramic. The boot is hand-painted directly on the ceramic body to get the ancient indigo color to permeate the ceramic, then covered with an ivory-white glaze.
The boot is painted with a motif of a “water-absorbing dragon” inspired by the majestic dragon of the Tran Dynasty in the XIV century. This boot can be considered as a continuation of the boot with the motif of “The Legend of the Dragon’s Gate”, representing the mighty moment when the carp crossed the Gate and turned into a dragon.

#11

Blue glazed ceramic, using the color overlay technique. The boot is covered with a layer of enamel, engraved with motifs, then overlaid with many other layers of enamel to create shades.
The boot is painted with a motif of a “water spraying dragon”. It symbolizes the spirit that always goes back to its origin. Unlike the dragon image on other boots, the inspiration derives from the dragon motifs of the Nguyen Dynasty with a flexible, lively, and majestic curling posture.

#12

Blue glazed ceramic, using the color overlay technique at the master level. These boots show the talent of “creating magic with enamel” of artisan Vu Duc Thang at his best. The color layers transform and blend diversely while still maintaining clarity. The peach blossom pattern is vivid and fresh as a spring garden.
The work made a deep impression on the audience and was certified by the Guinness Book of Vietnam as the biggest ceramic boot in the country (2013).

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