Derek Au

Artist Statement

I’m interested in the relationship between historical and contemporary craft traditions, as well as the on-going dialogue between different crafts such as ceramics, metalware, glass and painting. In my early work, Planeware, I developed porcelain slab construction techniques inspired by tinware and Song Dynasty qingbai ware (which, in turn, was influenced by Tang Dynasty silver and gold ware). My newest series, Painted, explores the long history of slip decoration in ceramics as well as the relationship between painting and ceramics. As with hakeme, in the Painted series brushes are used to apply slip. But Painted removes the “ground” of the underlying thrown form, leaving behind only the slip.

An amateur researcher of ancient Chinese ceramics and glazes, I am continuing to develop a number of glaze types using both traditional materials (such as porcelain stone and natural ashes) and modern materials. As a part of this research I created Glazy (, a free platform for sharing and analyzing ceramics recipes. I’m a strong promoter of open-source software and the benefits it can bring to the ceramics community.

-- Derek Au


Derek Au is a ceramicist who was based in the “Porcelain Capital”, Jingdezhen, since 2007.  Aside from his studio work, Mr. Au is also the creator of Glazy, an open-source ceramics database with over 7000 users and containing more than 15,000 glaze and clay recipes.  In 2017 Derek created “72 Hands”, a collection of videos documenting ceramics techniques.  In 2019, Derek created the Plaster Calculator and “This vessel does not exist”, a project that uses AI and machine-learning to generate images of ceramic vessels.

Derek Au has 12 years experience as a professional studio ceramicist, 2 years experience managing a resident studio, and 2 years working for a large-scale ceramics production workshop and residency. Derek is experienced with all aspects of ceramics production: ceramic chemistry, clay & glaze formulation and preparation, traditional & modern fabrication processes, and maintenance and firing of a wide variety of kiln types and sizes.

In addition, Derek has 20 years of software development experience using a variety of programming languages in many different environments including 3D modeling and open-source development.

Mr. Au has experience living and working in a number of different countries and cultures. He is a native English speaker and intermediate-advanced Mandarin Chinese speaker.

In late 2017 Mr. Au was awarded a McKnight Resident Artist Award and invited to participate in the Expatriate Ceramics exhibition at the Northern Clay Center (NCC) in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  After the NCC residency ended in March, Derek was accepted to Alfred University’s prestigious Ceramics program as a Special Student for the 2018-2019 school year.  Recently, Derek was extremely honored to be accepted as a Red Lodge Clay Center Resident Artist for 2019-2020.