Friday, January 24, 2014


Illustrated is a classic and traditionally crafted Iga mizusashi by master potter, Kishimoto Kennin. Thrown out of a rich Shigaraki clay, the mouth, shoulder, lid and face of the pot are covered in a wonderful layer of glassy green ash as is much of the interior. The rest of the body is painted over in a wet coating of ash that has produced a rich hi-iro fire color that Kishimoto is well known for. To appreciate the Iga work of Kishimoto Kennin, one has to be enamored with a painterly balance of ash and fire color (hi-iro). If one were to look at the hi-iro on his pots as negative space , then there are correlations with the balance created in both Momoyama ink painting as well as calligraphic Zen art.  His pots are meant to show the process of creation and firing with luscious surfaces that showcase the tsuchi-aji of his work. The pots have an organic quality to them that speaks to the viewer of honest craftsmanship, rustic and time worn surfaces that harken back to a much earlier time while decidedly modern in their creation. Though as a potter, Kishimoto is indebted to the past, he uses it as a basis to develop and articulate his own voice, which can be seen in the wide variety of styles and pots he makes.

In Kishimoto's Iga work, there is a tremendous balance and harmony between clay, fire and fire color and this is what makes his works so immediately recognizable. For Kishimoto's works, in Iga or any of the other styles he has mastered, it is the nuances, the small details that turn the pedestrian in to the pioneering. The placement of indents where the pot was lifted off the wheel, the way the nearly regular lip was defined by using one deft stroke to tear the lip and the gesture created by using his rib while the pot rotated on the wheel, all  of these details defined over decades of making and experiencing pottery that become second nature, unconscious actions that define a pot and its unending conversation.

You can see more of this pot by going over to my Trocadero marketplace;



  1. I'm not sure how I wandered on to your blog, but I just want to thank you for your postings. I thoroughly enjoy your tack through the universe of timeless works of japanese ceramics. I went all the way back to 2011 in transfixtion. Your articulation of knowledge and style is a real treat and I feel wonderfully nourished.

  2. Steve,
    I am glad you enjoyed the blog and posts. Nice to hear every now and again.

    Craig Bird