Friday, March 24, 2017

SET TO POUR

Illustrated is a diminutive Shigaraki sueki inspired tokkuri by Kohyama Yasuhisa. At first glance it seems a rather simple, useful bottle at the ready and set to pour with it leaning posture attesting to its eagerness to pour. The surface has a complex range of shades and textures all created through the process of making the pot, loading it in a kiln and throwing wood in to the kiln to reach a desired temperature but as you can guess there is so much more to it than that. These surfaces have been a lifetime in the making, trial and error and year after year of making pots and firing them and making records of results, nuances and changes in the pots themselves after all this is what wood firing is. The slight lean to the tokkuri as if made to first face into the ferocity and velocity of the firing and once fired its posture inviting the user to make use are communicated through this form. There are a great number of pots that hide their true nature in a cloak of simplicity and this Kohyama tokkuri is certainly one but as you take the time to really look at the piece its truest nature is revealed.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

DRAMA

When I think about vivid contrasts in ceramics, the obvious black & white and blue & white easily spring to mind but less often seen but easily as potent is the combination of red and white as clearly illustrated in this sultry porcelain vase with yuriko underglaze red decoration. Surrounded by beautiful red spiraled vines ending in rich blossoms this simple, elegant vase is by yuriko and sometsuke specialist Yoshida Takashi who learned his craft (and art) under three Ningen Kokuho; Tomimoto,Kondo and Fujimoto. Yoshida is well known and recognized for his use of fluid brushwork in yuriko underglaze red on pure white porcelain as well as his sometsuke wares and his use of space and form shows a tremendous flair for the dramatic which very few potters have achieved, especially in the infrequently seen flowing underglaze red pigment.

Monday, March 20, 2017

PISCES

Illustrated is a long terra cotta tray with a hatched border and a pair of carved fish decorating the interior which I had used previously in its green ware state. As I mentioned this was influenced by the Pisces motif where the two fish appear opposite of each other and are oriented to fit the rectangular space while leaving enough carved negative space to articulate the design. The opposed fish design has been a staple for my pots from the very beginning not to mention it fits the area of a tray or plate rather well. This is not exactly rocket science but it can sometimes be a bit of a struggle to get a design that works well on a longer form to work out well while keeping the balance between positive and negative space in check. In the past I have rigged this trays so that they can hang with the aid of my trusty, rusty wire bending jig and they have been used by a number of caterers as well; the scallop cut edge makes them easier to grip with or without oven mitts and due to their size, they can accommodate a generous portion of what ever you have in mind.

I posted this tray as green ware back in December, you can find the post here;
http://albedo3studio.blogspot.com/2016/12/somethings-fishy.html

Friday, March 17, 2017

HSPD

Not being of Irish descent or at least not that I know of, I am not 100% sure how close this chawan comes to the emerald green of Ireland, but it will have to do for today. This rich Oribe chawan is by Yamada Kazu and has a variety of colors and tones throughout the glaze including a rather copper rich, hazy moon-pool to finish off the inside of the mikomi and areas of such intense green they only come to life under direct light appearing like mysterious emeralds punctuated about the surface. I handled and photographed this chawan some time ago but I remember that it felt cool and comfortable in the hand and changed appearances as the light played across the pot. The overall feel to the piece was somewhat contemporary but it is from a time long since past that Yamada sought his influences and infused his modern bowl with a sense of now and then. I am a huge fan of Oribe when the clay can be seen through the transparent or translucent surface and where each and every mark add to the narrative that is the Oribe tradition.
And for St. Patrick's day, one of The Pogues finest;

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

TO FIT OR NOT TO FIT

I am sure that in the past I have mentioned that I have a love/hate relationship with terra cotta and when I am in that cycle and determined to throw larger pieces, throwing pieces/parts tends to be the rule of the day. Illustrated is the tops and bottoms for two pitchers, each piece measures approximately 11" tall and when fired they will come in at just about 18" to 19" and were originally designed after seeing a cartoon with animated chess pieces. I should also mention the top and bottoms fit together with contrasting angles thrown in to the bottom piece and cut in to the top pieces when removed from the wheel head to create a simple to fit, attach and throw seam that is easily blended and to date has never cracked or failed in the firing. They look a bit sterile at this point but once assembled, I will throw them just a bit to create a more graceful form and complete them with a thick ovoid handle. I am not sure how they will be decorated at this point but I suspect I will go the route of the abstrakt resist decoration to complete the forms.
You can see two finished jugs of this type in a post from a long while back;

Monday, March 13, 2017

SMALL PACKAGE, SMALL POT

On Friday I had a small package arrive from a fellow collector, in it was a nice Shigaraki chaire by Kanzaki Shiho. I assume Kanzaki needs little introduction as he is well known in the West and is a ubiquitous figure on the internet. I took a group of photos and built this short slideshow video to give a sense of what this all natural wood fired chaire looks like in person and hope it helps show the pot with a bit of depth. You can also see a feel images of the chaire over at my Trocadero marketplace;



Friday, March 10, 2017

POSSIBLY, MAYBE

I have seen a lot of Meiji era pottery over the years from the studio wares, Kyo-yaki to the early pioneers who ushered in the studio pottery movement possibly best characterized a bit later by Hamada Shoji, Kawai Kanjiro, Kitaoji Rosanjin and Tomimoto Kenkichi.  The reason I bring up the early studio movement and modern studio potters is that I recently handled an Oribe koro that seemed to be much more Meiji than modern in clay, glaze and ukibori style decoration. Ukibori is best defined as carving that creates raised areas (relief) out of a surface common to metal, wood and clay and is a skill of patiences and attention to detail which this koro shows.

Made by classic Showa era Mino potter, Tobii Takashi (1941-2009), this koro was likely thrown and then had the ukibori decoration formed in a mold and then carefully applied, applique style to the koro surface, avoiding trapping any air behind the applique and then skillfully sealed to adhere the decoration to the piece. Once this was completed, the relief decoration was further fine tuned by adding details by hand for a wonderful array of foliage with thoughtful areas of negative space to be filled and articulated in the glazing. Once bisque the koro was selectively glazed in varying thicknesses of an Oribe glaze from deep, rich green to areas where only a sheen highlights the creamy surfaces and varying leaves pop out or fade into the distance. A few cherry blossoms, kiku can be seen on the body of the piece as well as on the lid where they are pierced to allow the koro to function. As I mentioned when I first saw this piece I thought I was looking at a Meiji era Kyo-yaki piece but as it turns out, appearances are deceiving for this great little Oribe Mino koro.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

白い龍

Though entitled, HAKU-RYU (White Dragon) the description of this ceramic okimono is not exactly correct from my point of view. Showing a variety of shades and colors from lavender to grey blue and hints of white, this dragon has a speckled, pore like texture of white dots throughout the glaze on this form. Molded out of what appears to be an iron rich stoneware, this form has a palpable tension to the form, like a coiled spring  created through simple lines and strong and decisive curves creating the body, neck, head and limbs. Created by the master potter and Kyoto native, Kusube Yaichi, he is well known for his sculptural pieces such as this dragon and other figures molded out of fine porcelain and stoneware and showcasing his virtuosity of glaze making and use. Though a simple, singular glaze, like most of Kusube's pieces, there is nothing simple at work here, there is depth and movement to the form and surface which is defined by the breaking qualities of the exterior. The most amazing quality of Kusube's zodiac and other figures is that though using few lines and little detail, he has infused the piece with the essence of the dragon, its mythical power and symbolism created from the natural elements of earth, air, fire and water.

Monday, March 6, 2017

MDCC

A short while back I wrote a blog post about "recycling" test glazes and making every attempt to see if I can get them to work as a stand alone glaze but also in combination with other glazes as a base glaze, over a glaze or in some other combination with existing or other test glazes. The Oribe test I showed used a manganese dioxide/ cobalt carbonate glaze (MDCC) over it and I also tried the same test glaze over my temmoku that I use. Illustrated is the results of the first test using this new combo where what resulted is a soft metallic surface that shows a wide array of visual textures which seem to almost mimic oilspot textures around the form. I suspect all the oxides interacted to create this surface and I would say trying these tests glazes over and over again in various ways and incarnations can occasionally pay off.  I am not 100% sure what to do with this surface at the moment but I will move on to the teabowl size phase next and see what results that will yield. proceeding at this pod, to teacup to teabowl pace may seem a bit cautious but in fact it saves money on making up test glazes that then need to be thrown out and at the very least there is a good maxim to embrace; "slow and steady wins the race".

Friday, March 3, 2017

PLATYCODON GRANDIFLORUS

Illustrated is a classic Arakawa-mon (school) chawan by long time apprentice, Nakayama Naoki who served a long apprenticeship prior to setting up his own studio/kiln in Ogaya Village. Well known for his freehand and simple decoration of his chawan using the Chinese bellflower design, Nakayama's chawan bear a striking resemblance to that of his master, Arakawa Toyozo but upon close examination there are subtle differences, nuances that are apparent not because he wasn't capable of copying the master but rather out of respect he searched out his own vocabulary within the form. Many of the chawan that I have seen by Nakayama have a warm and rather inviting quality to them, a sense of purpose contained within the simple and well exectued form. His chawan usually show a rather regular lip with slight undulation and the hera cut area that form the transition from the body of the bowl to the kodai area, is cut quickly and with skilled repetition creating a subtlety rounded form with a soft area that sits well in the hand. Nakayama Naoki has skillfully created the balance of blending the old with the new and using his master's works as a foundation to create his own voice that speaks to modern Mino-yaki.