USA EMBASSY EMPLOYEE TURNED INTO POTTER

31/05/2014

Pavlo Sakhno, a former USA embassy employee, has discovered pottery art three years ago, since that it turned into life work. Now Pavlo is a participant of folk art fairs, ethnic festival and the leader of the Sakhno Art project.

When I used to work in the USA embassy one lady enthusiastically told me about pottery art traditions. And this conversation stuck in my memory. Later I contacted a talented potter Ivan Pankov (who is not with us any more, unfortunately) and told him that I want to see pottery process.

It so happened when I was in the workshop they were getting ready for baking. The workshop looked very traditional and small but has a great number of ancient and modern pottery wares from different regions of Ukraine. I have never seen so many pottery wares in my life at least for that moment. The next day I attended baking processed in a traditional furnace on wood. I saw the pottery ware shines when it just starts getting heated, then turns to red, pink and that shines like a Sun.

Since then I fell in love with pottery. My teacher, the same Ivan Pankov from Lutsk who was the first to show me pottery art, entrusted me keys from the workshop in Pyrohiv. It has everything necessary for work: a wheel, clay, instruments. They I have started to work hard.

How did you manage to combine it with your work? By the way did you still work at that time or sign off?

At that time I combined my work and my hobby. On my days off I used to work in a workshop. Because of my hobby I didn’t spend time at home at all, I was at work or in workshop. When I got completely involved in pottery I stopped visiting my parents and they started to worry about me. First they thought it will pass. But I was so much involved that as potter started visiting different fairs, festivals. By the way, at one of those festivals I met my wife. It was on the workshop.

Is she also involved in pottery?

No, she just participated in one workshop and that’s enough for her. It is interesting for her, she understands pottery, reads books on it, but she lacks experience.

How does your current occupation differ from your embassy career?

Working in the embassy you are paid for. When you have your own business you have to make your pwn salary. If you don’t make anything you don’t get anything. If we are talking about money, of course, it was easier to work in the embassy as you go to work, do your work and get your payment, spend your money. Now it is different.

Do you have any professional superstitions?

Every potter has his own superstitions. It is said it is better to think about dreams while working. I also think about dreams as I have many of them.

Is there any competition in your field?

Some potters think there are. I have never faced competition and I am not looking for competitors. I just evaluate work; there are some good potters, famous potters, the best potters and less famous potters.

It is sad that clay doesn’t like “bad hands”, it better not to work in a bad mood. Is it true?

Yes, it is. Sometimes you move around and someone spoils your mood, then you come to the workshop and ready to start working. In this case first I try to relax, drink some tea. Then it is much more easier to work with clay. It helps a lot in daily life, as you can control yourself. It is very useful to be able to calm down and back to normal no matter where you are.

When did you start to use flyandrivka (special clay painting of Ukrainian origin)?

Half a year ago. I was doing special traditional milk baking used by housewives not by potters. The pottery item was put in milk and then it was used for cooking. Milk penetrated deeply in clay and the item never leaked.

Then I felt I need to move on. Flyandrivka became my next stage. First it was complicated as you work with paint and liquid clay and it is fluid. It is a kind of element you cannot have influence on but correct it.

Actually flyandrivka is a very complicated technique and produces many defects. It was popular in Western and some parts of the Central Ukraine.

Do you have an idea to build a real pottery kiln?

It is ok to use wood for baking but it is not applied for all types of clay. It is necessary to have baking skills because the kiln bakes for 25-30 hours, it smoke, boils. And if you build it in your vacation house, for example, not all of your neighbors will love it. And it requires a lot of wood. It is very good to keep to traditions but we need to admit electricity helps us a lot.

Now all workshops are rented thus impossible to build traditional kiln. But every half a year I bring some of my pottery ware to Lutsk to keep the tradition in mind.

There is an electric kiln in our workshop. It can be programmed for a set mode thus you can go home and sleep and the kiln just does all job for you. It takes about 24 hours to operate traditional kiln, it has no computers, just wood. You look at the watch or inside of the furnace and see your items changing colour. When temperature gets 1000 degrees they shine like a hot metal.

Thus for creating a pottery ware you just need clay, water, air and fire.


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