Monday, January 22, 2018


Every now and again I decide to revisit the vellum style blue glaze that I developed which was originally inspired by the works of Kato Kenji. Over the years I have used both the vellum glaze and a more translucent water blue based on an old Woody Hughes glaze formula and tweaked a bit to more fit my needs. The illustrated detail is a close-up of a bowl with black slip which is carved through to the clay and then glazed in the vellum blue which is inspired by Kato's toruku-ao showing the mirco-crazing across the surface and the build up of copper in the center of the bowl. I like this glaze quite a bit as it not only visually appeals to me but it has a soft, texture as you handle the pot adding to the experience. Created using copper as the colorant, copper blues have a wonderful appearance and date back to ancient Eygpt before making their way through the rest of the Mid-East and across the Silk Road before ending up in China and even Japan. In the past 50 years or so a number of Japanese potters have embraced the persian or Turkish blue glazes the most notable of whom are the late Kato Takuo and Kato Kenji with Kato Kobei VII, son of Kato Takuo being a strong influence on the style currently. One of the features that keeps me coming back to this style of pottery is that despite still being warm from the kiln, there is something old, even ancient about the surface connecting new pottery works all the way back to its origins several thousand years ago, it is nice to know exactly where something has come from.

Friday, January 19, 2018


Rugged and determined spring to mind when I look at this purposeful Hagi mizusashi by Udagawa Seikoku (b. 1940) which was part of a chaki tea set including a sakutate, kensui, futaoki and mizusashi all glazed in a pure white glaze with hints of clay color showing through with a signed storage box. This piece passed through my hands a number of years back and was an enjoyable piece to study seeing how the pot was thrown round and coaxed into a squared form learned from years of practice. I have left this jpeg on the hard drive and go back to it now and again remembering how maliable clay is and all the possiblities gleened through trial and error. There may not be many bells and whistles that go along with this pot but it plays its part well and is certainly difficult to ignore and at the end of the day, that is about all you need.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


An internet friend sent me this photo a short while back and thought I would share it along with a quote from Dr. Fred Baekeland that is always in the back of my mind; "Kondo Yuzo is one of the very few modern potters to bring something new to the otherwise sterile field of underglaze blue-and-whie porcelain."*. I must admit, it is not everyday you see such a majestic Kondo Yuzo masterwork, which this certainly is with underglaze blue and overglaze red enamel and gold making for such a rich and enticing surface and piece. I have admired Kondo's work all the way back to our first encounter in the LIVING NATIONAL TREASURES OF JAPAN exhibition (1983), coming face to face with his rich, bold and evocative sometsuke painted porcelain was a wonderful experience and we have enjoyed every chance encounter since that time. Though only a photo, this vivid image communicates its volume and power through the stark background decorated with red, white, blue and some gold creating a lush landscape that only Kondo could capture blending Momoyama ink painting, sometsuke decoration and modern expressionism all about his three dimensional canvas.

Monday, January 15, 2018


Illustrated is a medium size V-bowl with a tall foot with triangular cut outs on opposite sides of the foot. Using wax, I painted out my abstrakt verses design around the interior and exterior of the bowl and once dried applied a very thin coat of black slip over the surface and once bisque glazed it in an amber glaze.  The verses design is basically a fluid rendition of mostly nonsensical elements which at one point were based on the print works of Haku Maki and both soshu and tensho style kanji; now they are more about movement and relationship as the move about the surface. Working like this is fun, because of the use of wax, you need to work fast and there is little room for error or it shows up quite readily. I should relate an interesting story, while Kohyama Yasuhisa was in Cleveland, my wife and I had him over to our house several times and on one trip, I had hanging a large kakejiku scroll on which I had painted two bold lines of calligraphy in the verses style. Kohyama-san walked up to it and with his finger started tracing the individual elements and admitted, he could read some of it but the others were just baffling, I explained what it was and he gave me a small smack on the back and one of his sly, understanding grins. Every time I paint out the verses patterns since, that moment where he was tracing the characters always springs to mind.

Friday, January 12, 2018


A few weeks back I had the chance to handle a nice Oribe hachi by the late Kato Yasukage XIV and just recently built a short slideshow video of the piece. The hachi is high lighted by a rather dramatic combed texture with varying qualities and colors of his Oribe glaze from light, almost pale amber to green to rich dark greens and areas of swirling copper blue and iridescence. Kato Yasukage's use of form, texture and his glaze application creates a unique look which helps single him out as the maker and the presence is undeniable as one views or uses this animated and functional pot.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


I have had this jpeg on the hard drive for some time now and it is fair to say that this (and other) Oribe work act as an inspiration for my pursuits as concervative as they may be. This textured Oribe vase was made by Okabe Mineo and has all of the classic characteristics of his work in a compact pot from the visual surface to his textbook green with accents of rich blue waterfalls cascading down here and there adding to the movement and animation of the vase. In the detail shot that I posted up on Monday you can see the same style of running blue as with the Okabe which is hardly a coincidence as it is a technique and surface feature that I admire and believe that it adds quite a lot to a pot as well as to the modern Oribe tradition. I can't help but be amazed at how Okabe Mineo was able to say so much in his pottery with just a well crafted and used texture and a little bit of copper in a glaze.

Monday, January 8, 2018


Illustrated is a detail shot using the macro feature on my camera of a chawan that has been around for a while. I decided to photograph the bottom of this piece after moving it to get to another pot and the way the light hit it made me think that a good photo would illuminate what the glaze surfaces really looks like. In this case the bowl was carved on the wheel head and then thrown to expand the surface and later glazed in my Oribe and iron wash. The glaze ran quite a bit and formed this vivid copper/iron flow that is high lighted with streaks of varying color and details within and if you look in to the Oribe glaze you can see random particles of copper also puncuating the surface. I must confess that for a surface that started as just another test with a date and number designation, I am pleased that with each firing the results and details always put on a show.

Friday, January 5, 2018


I just put together this short video slideshow of a very nice Iga tokkuri which i received as a thoughful Christmas gift. made by Kojima Kenji who specializes in Ko-Iga pottery, the unique aspect of this piece is that it matches a very fine guinomi also by Kojima and both pieces were made at exactly the same time according to the enclosed bio in each box. I know that people are probably thinking this "ain't necessarily so" but if you consider the infrequency that an anagama is fired, the chances are very good that both pieces, made at the same time, fired in the same kiln and sold at different venues both ended up at the same place over a decade later for a nice, if not belated reunion. By happenstance or cosmic design, the other feature that unites these two pieces is the emerald jewel like bidoro drip that hangs off both pots which were fired on their sides. Coincidence, I don't think so, please enjoy.

IT AIN"T NECASSARILY SO; Henderson and Sting:

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


Back to basics with this bowl, black and white slips, wax resist and my medieval green over; I have made a lot of these pieces but seem to have strayed a bit from this technique. This detail gives a closer perspective of what the surface looks like from the black slip being a bit "droozy" and bleeding to the dust like appearance on the surface that is actually part of the glaze surface under the right light conditions. I like this technique quite a bit as it is spontaneous and playful in nature but at the same time is unforgiving as once the wax goes on either you go through with the application of the black slip or you end up letting the piece dry, bisquing off the wax and ending up with a white slipped bowl! Luckily, I have worked out a hand full of designs that I like and work on the forms I through so there are few pieces that don't make it through to the black slip phase. There is nothing wrong with the basics.

Monday, January 1, 2018


I wanted to wish everyone a very Happy New Year for the year of the dog, 2018. 2017 has been a rather interesting year reminding me of the apocraphal addage; "may you live in interesting times". I hope that 2018 is a better and more productive year and that some of last years issues disappear with the old calander pages now checked off.
The picture is of an interesting reunion of sorts, the Kojima Kenji guinomi was bought by us back in 2006 and used on my blog previously. As a Christmas gift, I received this Iga tokkuri by Kojima as well, also made in 2006, both from the same exact time as shown on the biographies in each box and quite possibly the very same firing. A wonderful, bidoro pair and quite the pleasurable reunion.