Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Looking a bit like an old Korean rice bowl in form, this robust Ko-Iga style chawan was made by veteran, renaissance potter, Kishimoto Kennin. Thoroughly entrenched in the mountainous heart of Mino potter where Shino and Oribe are king, Kishimoto has pioneered a rediscovery of Ko-Iga creating a wide array of pottery including chadogu but not limited to those pieces alone. Besides the traditional Iga pottery, he is also known for Iga-Oribe as well though it is his Iga pots like this chawan that create a thread from past to present and stand out among others working in the same tradition. The casual bowl shape of this chawan and spontaneously cut kodai are a perfect canvas for woodfiring and the natural ash that has settled and overtaken this pot are truly the marriage of potter, clay and fire, of which there can be no doubts, Kishimoto Kennin is a master.
For a Wednesday, sometimes one thing has little or nothing to do with the other; an acoustic cover of Coldplay's CLOCKS by Jeff Gunn;

Monday, September 28, 2015


I am firing off the last of three bisques in this current cycle in which I have made groups of terra cotta, stoneware and porcelain and am rather glad to get these pieces bisqued. Tomorrow I will finish clear glazing the last of the terra cotta pieces of which this set of four shallow bowls is included. Thrown in terra cotta, black slipped and then carved, the finishing touch is adding white slip trailed dots in the intersections of the design. I like adding the slip dots to the tebori carved pieces, it brightens things up just a bit and creates an interesting focal point for the design. The only drawback is that I prefer to carve when the pieces are a bit drier but need to get the pieces finished while the slip will adhere and stay put on the clay, so accommodations need to be made in the process. Besides finish glazing the terra cotta pieces, I am hoping, planning to get the first of two glazes on the stoneware pots currently in the bisque and at any rate plan on loading the first terra cotta glaze kiln tomorrow afternoon and fire it off on Wednesday. We'll see how that all goes.
"Our plans never turn out as tasty as reality." Ram Dass

Friday, September 25, 2015


A friend of mine recently acquired a rather large, exhibition quality O-tsubo by Tsukigata Nahiko and it is quite a spectacular pot. At over 17" tall it is of a classic tsubo form but the surface is anything but typical being a showcase for a wide array of effects one will only see on a Tsukigata pot. Displaying a rich ash tamadare style face with icy looking Shino around, covered in varying thicknesses of natural kiln ash, the surface is alive and very three dimensional. This detail of the mouth and shoulder shows some of the richness and activity that cloaks the piece in a perpetually changing landscape depending on lighting and vantage point. All in all, this is a stellar pot by one of the great innovators of modern Japanese pottery and considering the new owner was never going to buy another piece, this purchase came as something as a surprise harkening back to the old literary adage; once more unto the breach.
(Photo  and permission provided by an anonymous collector)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


I unloaded the first of three bisque kilns that needed to be fired yesterday and as soon as it was empty, loaded it back up for the second firing. With some creative stacking, I am usually able to get about 45+ pieces in each kiln load and when done I will have fired over 160 pieces in terra cotta, stoneware and porcelain. After loading the kiln, I immediately set about glazing up the first group of carved porcelain bowls and a group of porcelain and stoneware teabowls. Rather than waiting to have to glaze all of any one clay at one time, I am going about this by glazing smaller batches to reduce the mental and physical stress normally associated with the process. Today I glazed up a large group of terra cotta carved, decorated and slipped pieces and tomorrow my plan is to deal with another group of stoneware bowls, serving pieces and bottle/vases.  I can already tell that this seems more efficient and far less taxing by breaking the glazing process into smaller and more manageable groups and will probably deal with glazing larger groups of pieces exactly this way in the future.
"The future ain't what it used to be." Lawrence Peter Berra (1925-2015)

Monday, September 21, 2015


Illustrated is a square  and squat formed Oribe kogo by Ishii Takahiro. Like the chaire I posted previously it is part of a tea set for chanoyu that includes the chawan, mizusashi, chaire, kogo and futaoki which all have a similar style of glazing to tie the pieces together. The kogo shows a rich clay flavor and texture that peaks out from behind areas of Ishii's Oribe glaze making for a very interesting landscape and the unglazed knob springs out from the nearly black, frosted top of the piece adding yet another dimension to the small and intimate pot. The eight sided form has just enough faceted texture to provoke the glaze to vary which makes this simple kogo interesting and different from a variety of vantage points. Bein' green isn't so bad after all.
"You see with your eyes. You know with your heart." Jim Henson (1936-1990)

Friday, September 18, 2015


I will admit, it can seem like I drone on about certain things, like details perhaps. There is no escaping the fact that when I survey a pot, I am particularly detail oriented though I would like to think that the sum of the whole is not being missed during the process. I recently was studying a very nice Tsujimura Shiro Iga mizusashi and was struck by the posture and attitude of the pot along with the way it was thrown and the very fine firing it received as a result of what one can only assume is exacting placement of the piece. As I studied the pot, I kept coming back to the vibrant depth of the glassy ash (yu-damari) ring which encircled the knob as it it was planned just that way. Where the knob and the lid proper merged, there is a slight depression which filled up around the protrusion to create a stunning visual which invites the viewer to pick up the lid. Planned or serendipity, these are the type of details that accumulate to create a wonderful pot and could we have expected anything less from Tsujimura Shiro?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Illustrated is a pair of tall stacked chimney pots from the last firing. The body and neck were thrown separately and later put together after the bases were paddled to create an overall textured effect and once assembled the round lugs were applied. The pieces were glazed in a rich green Oribe and then had varying amounts of iron added to the surface, heaviest at the top where it has changed the glaze and cascaded down the stacks and on to the bases of each vase. I really enjoy making pots like this, related to mallet forms as getting the pieces to work together is always a challenge and paddling the base separate from the stacks makes the process much easier and a bit more predictable as well. Each of the vases measures just shy of 16" tall and tough they could have been thrown in one piece, stacking the pieces is just quite a bit easier in the throwing and especially in the wedging!
And just because it is a Wednesday, here is one of my favorite songs by Mary Fahl, formerly of the band October Project entitled BEN AINDI HABIBI;

Monday, September 14, 2015


Illustrated is a simple en-yu salt fired chawan by Tokoname potter; Ito Yushi (b.1945). The form appears to be a blend of both the Korean archetype and a typical Japanese chawan with a wonderful surface created by using a kohiki style slip before the piece was salt fired. During the process several serene gohonde style spots were created and are surrounded by a patch of rich pink blushing which defines the face of the bowl. The crackled slip texture and distinct finger mark help distinguish the kodai from the bowl form and adds a bit more intrigue to the bowl. Ito Yushi is a rather adventurous Tokoname potter having studied with both Hineno Sakuzo and Tomimoto Goro, he has been very involved with the study of Korean pottery and has visited and exhibited in S. Korean a number of times. This chawan clearly shows a touch of that Korean sensibility while clearly stating its place of origin.

Friday, September 11, 2015


I received a rather nice Shino vase today and went ahead and made a short slideshow video of the piece, at nearly a foot tall and in perpetual motion, this modern spiral vase was made by the late Kato Yasukage XIV circa 2008. Tall and imposing the spiraled surface is glazed in a rich Shino glaze that shows off a wide array of textures and color variations from pure white, blushed pink hues and rich iron red circling the base of the pot. The textured flutes draw one in and around the pot and create a vivid canvas for this creative master gone way to early.

You can see more of the Kato vase over at my Trocadero marketplace as well;

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Yesterday was one of those crazy days that started with me carving a few terra cotta bowls. From there I progressed to throwing a group of eight terra cotta pieces, then a group of eight porcelain bowls to slip and carved and I finished the day by throwing several stoneware bottles to slip and heavily texture followed by carving the last four slipped porcelain bowls from the day before. It makes for a busy day and sometimes leaves me feeling a bit schizophrenic in terms of bouncing back and forth between clays, styles and tasks. I should probably mention that I also had to make up several slips along the way as they ran out and were needed to keep things going straight to slip the terra cotta and porcelain pieces. I hope it doesn't sound like I am complaining because I am not, I would rather be busy than idle and would rather be throwing than anything else. Tomorrow, more throwing in both porcelain and stoneware.
Illustrated is a 12" (?) tall stoneware bottle that I threw yesterday and tooled and textured today. Since the technique and surface has been coming out on smaller pieces, I have decided to graduate to slightly bigger pots and see how it looks under the Oribe and possibly the saffron glazes. I am not sure when these two bottles and a covered jar will get fired as these are spec pieces and there are orders and pieces for a couple of galleries and a holiday show ahead of them. We'll see how it goes and if possible, I'll try to get at least one in the next stoneware/ porcelain firing.

Monday, September 7, 2015


Illustrated is a very nice "cong" style Iga vase by legendary potter, Furutani Michio. With running ash, areas of dark charcoal scorching and a wide array of other effects, each of the four sides with a distinct and intertwined landscape tells its own story of a time spent in a brutal and ferocious firing much like an expressionist folding screen (byobu). Having an appearance of tremendous age and distinct nobility, this pot like most pieces by Furutani Michio ties together a tradition that spans back to the last days of Sueki pottery and permeates through most wood fired pots in both Iga and Shigaraki to this day. Imbued with purpose, function and a distinct aesthetic it is easy to see why such pots stand out even today among a diverse and very talented field.

Friday, September 4, 2015


With a dramatic flair and spontaneous and unfaltering movement the surface of this large O-tsubo is brought to life with a practiced and confident hand. Made by the late Hayashi Kotaro (1940-1981) it is quite evident where his younger brother, Shotaro learned the technique of making the most and best of each clay altering cut, facet or mark. Glazed in a rich Oribe, the glaze pools in depressions and tears along the surface creating dark, almost mysterious hues of greens that beckon to the viewer to investigate the depths of the textured surface reading the decoration as it circles of pot. I really love this glaze, it has an authenticity to it, it is simple and original and conjures up thoughts of early Edo Oribe. Despite it feudal presence it is bold and modern though made prior to Hayashi Kotaro's death in 1981, if pushed, it would be hard to say exactly when this pot was made.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Illustrated is a before and after shot of a teabowl with thick combed slip under an Ao glaze I am working with. I have tweaked the Ao yet again and am trying to get it just a little bit richer by blending cobalt and iron and would like to see it with a slightly deeper quality coming out of the next stoneware firing. I was just starting to get things going for another high-fire cycle last week when a gallery called letting me know they were down to only a couple of pieces so I am currently working in terra cotta and making some tebori and b&w slip pots. The next test for the Ao will have to wait a bit but this teabowl, out of the last firing shows where I am at with the glaze. It has a lot of color variation, most notable hues of greens and blues with some small texture running throughout the glaze for good measure. The glaze respond well to the textures created by the slip and I am looking forward to it possibly creating an even richer quality as it dips in to the recesses of the combing. I'll keep you posted, same pottery time, same pottery channel, more or less.