Monday, November 12, 2012


Back, when I used to contemplate how many angels could dance on the head of a pin, I was reminded constantly through my parochial education and the use of a ruler; "the devil is in the details". When I look at a pot, I start by addressing the whole and then break it down into its components or pieces, studying the details. Do the details end up being more important than the whole or vice versa? These are obvious keys to judging the quality of a pot as well as identifying the potter. That being said, I thought it would be interesting to showcase close-ups or details of pots, that short of handling or seeing in person, are lost to most. From the obscure to the famous, the devil is invariably in the details.
Illustrated is a close-up of an abstract design from a mizusashi by Shinkai Kanzan (1912- 1996? ). Shinkai was a prominent Kyoto artist who was more interested in creating an array of forms complimented by a myriad of decorations, rather than solely creating works for the tea ceremony. Though he had a large set of technical and decorative skills, he was well known for and particularly adept at attaching stamped (decoration) porcelain onto a stoneware body to create vivid designs of fish, birds, abstract design and others ( see an earlier blog post for an illustration). This particular piece was thrown and then had paper resist placed on the surface and thick slip both brush and dabbled on to the pot, after which, the paper was removed. The pot was later glazed in a vivid sancai technique which further highlights the thick slip and recesses. A rather simple technique that has yielded a rich and extravagant atmosphere.