Monday, May 9, 2011


I must admit, I have always been fascinated, even in awe of the handled henko forms of Kawai Kanjiro (1890-1966). Their monolithic presence, despite their size, is undeniable and from my first encounter with them, I was in love. The handled press molded henko I am referring to were produced during the early 1960s and consist mainly of three styles; sancai (tri-color), gosu blue over thick hakeme and his rich temmoku with splashes of vivid green and orange-red overglaze. These forms are exceedingly evocative and though absolutely Kawai’s own creation, they harken back to the traditional teoke (water bucket) forms of Edo period Japan. The earlier teoke archetype is seen in clay, lacquer, wood and even occasionally metal. These forms ran the gamut from artist produced works to the everyday craftsman’s mingei.

Once I made my way to Cleveland, it was not uncommon to see Dick and Patty Schneider both making handled basket forms in varying sizes and styles. I was initially intrigued and like learning to assemble the pieces parts of teapots, I tried out the fundamentals of the handled basket form as well. Illustrated is a medium size teoke basket form from my last firing. It is glazed in my temmoku and tetsu-yu and though a bit difficult to see, the form is ever so slightly lobed and the glaze has run straight down the soft indented line. The runny nature of the glaze accentuates the vertical nature of the form and keeps the relatively undecorated form and handle from being dull. When I unloaded the kiln, I was pleasantly surprised by how the glaze “fermented” around the flat surface of the lip; it created an interesting pattern that I couldn’t have planned any better.

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