Leathered bowls by Junsu Kim

When observing Junsu Kim’s objects, we can definitely notice a different perspective. The objects’ shapes and textures present different layers of a soft yet resistant material: leather. You really have to look closely to notice how this organic material was carefully but intuitively applied through different layers. The result is a series of strong and personal identities developed by outer structures forming ‘the bowls’.

Junsu Kim is a South Korean artist and Craftsman exploring the possibilities of leather from a different perspective: intuitively layering it together.

The Beginning

Junsu Kim: The Bowl series started with the question of whether the leather can be shaped in a different way than the way it is normally cut and used.

I majored in metal craft. I had many opportunities to explore various materials together with metal. During graduate school, I participated in a vegetable leather workshop in Italy. I was impressed not only with the learning of traditional techniques, but also with regard to how to produce and process vegetable leather, and keep up with many experiments to produce unique surfaces. This vegetable leather I use is tanned by sunlight and polished by rubbing its surface. I wanted to apply this raw and natural aesthetics on my work. The beginning of this series, I coiled up thin leather strings to make a new flat pattern of cross-section which is normally hidden. Adapting over time, the work is gradually evolving into the three-dimensional form like a bowl shape.

The Process

Junsu Kim: The final objects of the leather bowl series are all different. This is because they are made of leather strings of different lengths, not fixed to the frame, but shaped only by the strength of hands. This intuitive making process requires continuous concentration during the time stacking each line. I normally imagine the shape on my mind rather than the preparation such as drawing or modeling process, because the shape is sometimes expressed differently contrary to my mind. In this case, I pause and look back later until I get used to its shape. I think this creative process resembles a plant growing and adapting to its surroundings.

The beauty of natural and raw aesthetics

Junsu Kim: I think that more and more people want to enjoy the natural and raw aesthetics of materials. Environmental issues are one of the issues raised annually throughout the world. More people than ever in the past are concerned about the environment. The leather I use is similarly produced with a minimal process using tannin from the bark and stems of plants. It is a material adapting to its external environment such as tanning by sunlight and polishing by friction. I hope that more people can discover the natural aesthetics of work that adds value to the years rather than artificially finished with chemicals.

The future of Crafts

Junsu Kim: I think a lot of people these days are collecting a lot of handmade goods that are worthwhile with their firm tastes. Handicrafts are rich in hand sensitivity, which cannot be replaced by a uniform method of mechanical production. If education in crafts field continues to understand and preserve these values, and people’s consumption of handicrafts continues, I think the future is bright.

Interview with Junsu Kim.

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