Wednesday, February 8, 2012


A while back, I was approached to make a tea set for an individual that practices tea ceremony. The guidelines were simple; porcelain, a specific surface and the orientation was to be "formal" in style. In my mind, formal would mean for something to be within the parameters of conventional requirements. Well, honestly, that threw me, so more emails and pictures were exchanged as well as a lot of internet and book searches to establish what that actually meant. After the initial research period, I set on forms based on a historical Kyo-yaki set from the early 18th century. The forms are very formal, almost ridged, yet in hand, they work rather well and have a comforting, approachable feel. I showed the client the greenware prototypes to see if that was what they had in mind. Once approved, decorated, bisque and glazed, now the question was, how would they look after they were fired. The firing went off without a hitch and the set (and ghost set) came out rather well. The customer was happy and that is the bottom line.

Having thrown this set, I have now added these more "formal" forms to my vocabulary. Though they appear to be "no fuss, no muss" forms, getting them just right is a bit more time consuming than normal. Illustrated is a pair of more formal style teabowls. Each porcelain bowl are the high walled style, with lips that flair out just a tiny amount and have a notch cut in the foot to create some movement within the foot ring. Though these were not thrown as a pair, I decided to decorate both using the same pattern, one etched and the other with slip, both glazed in my iron yellow glaze. I am always amazed at how the same design in varying surface treatments can change the temperment and appearance of a pot.

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