Like a number of modern Japanese potters, Ito Sekisui V is able to draw from over three centuries of experience going back generations in his family. Though he is able to use the technology and firing methods from his families long history, his skill and artistry is entirely in his own, exceptionally capable hands. In many respects though, it is this deep well of experience that gives potters like Ito a distinct advantage and for potters in the United States, having three hundred year old shoulders to stand on is virtually unheard of. Ito Sekisui V, a Ningen Kokuho for this technique is well versed in the use of the locales' native vermillion red, mumyoi clay, a fine grained and beautiful clay. It was originally fired in such a way as to best showcase the color and texture of the clay until Sekisui V started using the natural yohen, kiln change techniques which created localized reduction and "painted" the surface of the pots with varying hues of color, complimenting the natural clay color and creating vivid, ethereal landscapes and skyscapes not seen before. In person it is quite apparent that words can little describe this aesthetic, the work is breathtaking and lets each viewer determine the story that the pot has to tell.
Illustrated is a large and elegant mumyoi tsubo by Ito Sekisui V which clearly shows the rich vermillion clay and the bands or waves of the localized reduction that ring around the pot like some far distant planet seen by the Hubble space telescope. The margins between the red clay body and the grey-blue region is like the rings of Saturn displaying a number of color gradations and hues that the photo hints at, but is best seen in person. Though I say this quite often, this is another pot that appears quite simple at first glance, but as you take the time to see what it has to say, you realize it is anything but simplicity and certainly nothing that is common.
(Photo provided and used with the kind permission of a collector.)