Monday, May 30, 2016


"The patriot's blood is the seed of Freedom's tree." Thomas Cambell (1763-1854)

Friday, May 27, 2016


I love the subtle and often times not so subtle details that you can discover by studying a pot. Some are all in your face and others have to be uncovered through a thoughtful and thorough examination of the piece, in this particular case, the detail is easily spotted but not so easily forgotten. Clinging to the bottom of an attached lug, this rich green bidoro drip hangs precariously while being perpetually fed by a cascading river of ash running down the pot. Though forever suspended just as you see, the detail gives the pot a sense of being perpetually animated, one can almost imagine the sound of the ash dripping from pot to table top. What makes this even more dynamic is that it is not one of the usual Shigaraki or Iga potters that spring to mind, rather it was made by the master of the casual and direct, Suzuki Goro. Best known for his wide array of Mino traditional glazes, Suzuki has made a number of wood fired pots though it is a small percentage of his work, I have to say they are not only distinct and adventurous they are all uniquely his own and exceptionally fired for that dramatic Goro-effect.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


A few years back I decided I would like to try my hand at a glaze that is loosely based on the gosu of Kawai Kanjiro and before you think it or say it, I certainly realize this to be a rather lofty and impossible task that would test my limitations of patience. Once started, I am not sure what I thought or expected but the tests started piling up with little to no success and few promising avenues. I encountered shivering at one point, crawling at others and a quest that was stalling due to lack of real direction until by happenstance in a conversation with another potter I had an idea as to how to proceed. My first tests after this point showed promise and went from test to 20" tall vase within just a couple of months and along the road from then till now and constant testing, I have gotten as close to this glaze as is practical and can honestly say, I arrived at this without existing recipes or formulas to create my own glaze from little more than clay and oxides. To be clear, this is not bragging, like many potters I have come up with a number of glazes that I didn't pluck out of a book or handout, simply put my real point is that with enough hard work, good and sometimes lucky direction and lots of tests (over 100) it is possible to get exactly  or darn close to where you are going to say, I have arrived. My goal was to make a blue gosu style glaze that I like, would enjoy using and would hopefully compliment my pots and how I work and I think that is exactly what has been accomplished. Now if only I could get every other glaze I have been struggling with to work, I would be all set.

Illustrated is a Ao+ covered jar from my last firing. It has a thick, combed slip under the glaze and the depth and color of the surface is a bit richer in person. It is always rewarding to see that I can repeat the result from firing to firing, the last true test that the glaze actually works.

"Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, May 23, 2016


Illustrated is a close up of the interior of a rather large (aren't they all) chawan by the Bear of Echizen, Kumano Kuroemon. Known as "GO" for the five drips in the mikomi, molten drips from pots above, shelves and the kiln itself have found their way to the bottom of the bowl and have run into one another to create a design reminiscent of an abstract plum blossom. There is a great deal of happenstance when firing a wood kiln, some good, some bad and that which is expected or hoped in one manner or another. I have seen a number of wood fired pots with seemingly random drips on interiors and exteriors and in the case of Kumano, a number of his chawan and hachi have such drips to testify to the volatility and ferocity of the molten ash that few potter's can get where the clay, glaze, kiln and potter are all at the borders of their physical limitations.

"A man who limits his interests, limits his life." Vincent Price (1911-1993)

Friday, May 20, 2016


Illustrated is a rather serendipitous confluence of two individual ash runs that meet to form a single gravity defying drip. In actuality, though this large Shigaraki tsubo is firmly seated on its foot, it was fired on its side and this view is the bottom as the pot was situated in the kiln. During the firing, the ash built up on the opposite side and melted, running down and around the pot to meet at the very lowest point of the belly of the piece. Though it is serendipity, I suppose that gravity had  an enormous amount to do with it as well as a well fired kiln. Beyond the physical laws of the universe, I suspect that having a lifetime of experience for knowing exactly how to position the tsubo encouraged the myriad of possibilities that can happen when clay, natural ash and flame are introduced to each other.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


I was chided recently that I should rename my blog to "Stuff I Like" as most of my posts are about pots that I enjoy as potter and collector. The big question I have though is why would I write about stuff I am not interested in or passionate about. Should I start a blog about spinach and broccoli both of which I intensely dislike? To be perfectly fair though, there are a number of pots that are on my blog that may not be pots I would collect for myself, they were sent here to sell, identify or even just study, they are good pots in every sense just not my cup of tea. I guess as someone who was a reluctant blogger I am going to continue to write about stuff that interests me and hope that in sharing, it may interest people who stumble on or follow my blog and open lines of communication to others.

Illustrated is a pot that I like quite a bit. I have seen forms like this before but this illustration from a Japanese ceramic magazine just really spoke to me from its feudal appearance, form and posture to the truly weathered and simple surface, this pot just exudes a visceral dialogue that I find palpable. Made by the late scholar, author, mentor, connoisseur and potter, Koyama Fujio (1900-1975), this Karatsu/Nanban bottle has every quality of a timelessness, the appearance has an unconscious quality to it, unconcerned with any thoughts of perfection, a pot meant for use with the aesthetic resonance a distant after thought but a sheer joy to drink in. When I think of the myriad of terms associated with Japanese tea aesthetics, this little pot always springs to mind, it prossesses nearly all of them.

Monday, May 16, 2016


What is the old adage, "you get what you pay for"? Though I am fully aware of what happens when you over-saturate a glaze with oxides (carbonates, etc.) my recent tests with manganese dioxide were exceptionally promising right up through small cups as tests. I made up enough to dip several pots, a teabowl and a small covered jar and fired them in my most recent firing and you know what happened, crap happened. The surfaces just boiled and droozed creating something resembling over burnt metal. Just nasty to say the least. When I opened the kiln, the only thing I can remember is saying; "CRAP", later it became very apparent that I was very lucky I only fired the two pieces and on tiles that were on top of bricks or I would have had a real mess. Like something out of the ALIEN movies, the glaze dripped off the pots and burrowed their way through the soft brick tiles and stopped at the hard brick underneath. Sorry for another oft used cliché but in this case, chance does favor the prepared mind at least in terms of when crap indeed happens.

Friday, May 13, 2016


When I first saw this chawan and the accompanying photos, there was no real specific potter that sprung to mind and at first glance my inclination was that it would pan out to be a Hamada school bowl. I was far a field in my assessment as the bowl is actually by Bizen master and Ningen Kokuho, Fujiwara Kei who was known to have made kohiki, Hagi, Oribe, Shino, Temmoku and Seto-guro among other styles and honestly the form threw me way off base. After doing a bit of thinking about it, it dawned on me that this form is not that different than some of the more classical Bizen chawan he had made so in the kantei process this should have lead me closer to identifying the actual maker. Secondly, Kaneshige Kyosuke, son of Kei and younger brother of Yu made a number of Oribe pieces with exactly this glaze so this really should have been the tip off that the teabowl was no oridinary green bowl. It is easy to rush to quick judgments regarding makers, age, quality and style of pots but I need to remember,  there is always more to learn and sometimes slow and steady will win the race.

"Hesitancy in judgment is the only true mark of the thinker." Dagobert D. Runes (1902-1982)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Thrown, formed, paddled and scrapped, this squared kinuta mallet vase is a classic form made by the late Bizen potter, Kaneshige Michiaki. Though very similar to a mallet by the same artist that I put up a while back, this one is close but shows some differences that distinguish the forms and the surfaces show similar styles of creating fire color, the effects however paint a different picture. This well conceived exercise in geometry crisply intersecting showing a great deal more control in squaring up the base and neck. The four singular planes define each side allowing for the kiln to create surfaces that wrap around sharp edges and create a more harmonious vessel. The flashes of fire color within the resisted areas and the fine white stones peaking through the clay add to the visual appeal of the pot which could only be improved upon with a well thought out floral arrangement to complete the vase.

For Wednesday, BRAND NEW DAY by Sting;

Monday, May 9, 2016


Throwing a simple form and using a simple temmoku and ash glaze over it, I made this piece after seeing an old black and white photo of a bunch of jugs in the remains of a boat under water. Despite being on the submerged for over 100 years, the jugs were elegant in their utility and simplicity and it was these elements that I tried to infuse in the series I have made. Thrown with a narrow base/foot, a decided swell to the belly and a rapid taper to a very functional and defined mouth, I threw these pots trying to strip any superfluous details away and arrive at the essence of the form, well at least I did my best. Each jug had a small but useful handle attached with my stamp at the base of the attachment and as you can see the ash glaze ran and broke around the handle creating another facet to the surface where the ash cascades on either side of the handle. Overall I am pleased with the results though I am wondering what they would look like in one of my Oribe glazes and how would I decorate them?

Friday, May 6, 2016


Illustrated is a simple bottle form made by salt and wood firing pioneer, Jack Troy. Thrown in porcelain with an ever so slightly bulbous mouth, the pot was paddled flat creating two larger planes flanked by pointed sides to define the form. This bottle was fired in a wood kiln some where away from the heavier ash deposits creating a soft flashing of ash overall with a few areas of build up which melted and ran down the right shoulder and by plan or serendipity, the pot is completed. All in all this is a rather eloquent bottle but it has a sense of purpose (I know, I use that word to often) where the sheer simplicity of the form has a tremendous amount to share with the viewer. I will never tire of saying  this about a really good pot but the simpler a piece is in its throwing and form the more complex it is to make it so and this is where the thousands of hours of throwing and creating make all the difference.

"To gild refined gold, to paint the lily............ is wasteful and ridiculous excess." (from King John) William Shakespeare

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


This impressive and well fired Shigaraki oni-oke style mizusashi was coil and thrown on the potter's wheel and has a rich surface and a lid that sits well on the turned in mouth. Made by veteran Shigaraki potter, Tani Seiuemon I, the pot was fired in an anagama wood fired kiln for nearly a week, the resulting effects paint the surface with deposits of natural ash some of which has turned to glass across the surface. Though fired with the lid in place, the velocity of the fire pushed its way into the interior which settled on the floor of the mizusashi creating a soft covering of ash adding just a bit more to the interior aesthetics.

You can see more of this mizusashi over at my trocadero marketplace by following the link;

Monday, May 2, 2016


Illustrated is an cap jar that I made recently where I matched up a band of thick combed slip on the body and lid of the jar. Covered over in my Oribe style glaze, the white slip shines through the surface and creates both a tactile and visual texture that ties the piece together while focusing the attention on the belly of the pot and the contours of the lid. This downward view shows off the decoration and gives a sense of the vertical feel and the sturdiness of the pot as well. I am particularly fond of making lidded vessels and being able to match or harmonize lid and body is both a constant challenge and a rewarding pursuit.

A nice touch for a rainy Monday, BLACKBIRD by Julie Fowlis;