Monday, June 14, 2010
THE MARK OF THE POTTER
I have always liked the way Japanese potters glaze. They grab hold of a pot and dip it in the glaze using their fingers as a form of resist. Once fired, the fingerprints are forever apparent on the pot. To me, the Japanese are highly effective at this technique and plan it into the overall design and decoration of the pot. It is a casual and simple means of adding additional gesture to a piece. In this case, this truly is the mark of the potter.
Over the years I have seen a number of potters use this technique very well. Warren MacKenzie comes to mind. In my glazing, I occasionally use my fingers and even hands as a resist when using two glazes. It is a way of noting the process and that I was there.
Of all the people that do this, Arakawa Toyozo is among my favorite. I first saw his work back in 1982 and have studied his pottery at every opportunity. Arakawa was a Ningen Kokuho and his effortless, spontaneous and casual manner for decorating and glazing is the pinnacle of the art. His simple marks and fingerprints articulate his pots and create beauty out of timeless and classical simplicity.
(Photograph of an Arakawa Toyozo mizusashi with sparse plum blossom design and his fingerprints around the foot. Used with permission from a private collection)