Monday, November 21, 2011


I am a huge admirer of design from the 1950’s and its spill over in the 1960s. The pottery world was just moving at a million miles an hour during those decades and many great designer and potter made not only a name for themselves, but also left a lasting impact on the field. When I think across the myriad of designer/potters of the period, I constantly go to Kyoto native potter, Shinkai Kanzan. For me, his work is all about movement and fun and you can not help but have some of the positive buzz of his works rub off on you.

Shinkai, born in 1912, made use of a wide array of materials, glazes and decoration, but one style that stands out is his “sprigged” on design work which I associate from the 1950s to 1980s. Throwing stoneware as the basis for his pots, he would then sprig on porcelain decoration encompassing a wide variety of decoration, though birds and fish appear quite often. Using a number of carved stamps, Shinkai would cut out the basic porcelain shape for his design(s) and then impress a wide array of texture to help animate the design prior to sprigging it onto the stoneware surface. He had a profound knowledge of technology and technique and was adept at marrying the two materials together and then glazing them over in a number of different glazes, many being alkaline based glazes.

Illustrated is a close up of a bowl with a sprigged on porcelain fish design with a number of textural stamps being used to bring the piece to life. Though its start was born in the 1950s, this work has a playful and timeless quality that most likely, will stand the test of time.