Monday, October 31, 2016


Illustrated is an angled side shot of the dotaku bell form that I posted up last week in greenware form. I rubbed the edges just a bit to try to accentuate the sharp lines around the pot and used the alternating rain pattern in copper to try to animate it a bit and promote the vertical nature of the piece. The lugs that are attached are pierced through and I first worked on this type of attachment on pilgrim flasks for the use of a suspension cord. I like working on pieces/parts pots, there are lots of possibilities and problem solving that go into the building and stuff that goes right (and wrong) with unexpected discoveries along the way which are all just part of the process.

Friday, October 28, 2016


My first look at this wonderful little chaire was without the ivory lid which is synonomous with this form and I was immediately struck that it looked just like its much larger counterpart, the ubiquitous tsubo. I have seen quite a few tsubo of all sizes by Osako Mikio and though diminutive in scale this form fits well in to his body of jar forms despite this one being a chaire, but afterall, isn't a chaire just a jar (ko-tsubo) for powdered matcha? Forms that transcend size fascinate me and this little gem is only one of a handful of chaire I have seen by this potter and it has every characteristic of Osako's work that one would expect from wood fired effects of ash and color variations to the rolled lip terminating the form and a bright ash green accent about the mouth and shoulder running down the pot. The way in which the piece was thrown would seem contrary to this particular form but Osako Mikio manges the clay in a rather casual and natural manner as he is well known to do and his experience brings this Tokoname chaire to life. Though small in scale there is a lot to consider and enjoy from this miniature tsubo all decked out and ready for the tea ceremony.

Monday, October 24, 2016


I clearly remember the first time I saw someone seriously alter a thrown pot, it was during a Ron Meyers demo in which he threw a soft and casual cylinder and just picked it right off the wheel head and pushed it oval to form the basis of an oval baker form. I had only been making pots for less than a year when I saw this and what it immediately instilled in me was that almost (!) anything is possible with clay. I have seen the spectrum from magnificent trompe l'oeil to the abstract sculpture of Volkos and just a bit of everything in between and I am always impressed at what clay is capable of; infinite artists, infinite possibilities. After seeing Meyers work, I set about trying to figure out how this approach applied to me and what I see in my head and started making simple oval bakers, squared forms and other thrown and altered pieces and after a trip to Nara I became exceptionally interested in Japanese bells, dotaku.
Over the years I have made a wide array of t&a forms based on dotaku with the most interesting and creative to make are the one that are thrown, altered, cut and reassembled to create crisp lines, ribs and other accentuated high points such as the one in the illustration. This bell form was glazed in my ame-yu with copper accents creating an alternating rain pattern on each concave level and is finished off with impressed lugs and a neck and mouth which mimics the form. When I look at these forms it is almost inconceivable that the genesis was a Ron Meyers demo but the seed was planted, took hold and came out as something that is easily associated with who I am and how I work, I don't think I could really ask for more.

Friday, October 21, 2016


I received an email the other day in which I was jokingly refered to as a "repeat offender" in that I tend to post/write about wood fired pots and Tsukigata way too often to which I retorted, it's my blog and I'll post what I want to. I have received emails like this before and it is absolutely true, wood fired pots get a lot of attention, I am mostly putting up pieces that speak to me and that I am affected by pots by Furutani Michio, Kojima Kenji, Tsukigata Nahiko, Kumano Kuroemon and others who always manage to get my mind reeling. To switch things up, ever so slightly I choose this wonderful Kawai Kanjiro henko that I have had in my pictures file for quite some time. I am particularly drawn to the stoic and purposeful form but it is the excellent articulation of the design and borders in underglaze iron, copper red and gosu blue on the gohonde style backdrop that makes this piece so eloquently conversant and immediately grabs my attention. I have seen a number of Kawai henko very similar but the background with a subtle mix of greys, lavenders and creamy tans make for a rather striking surface in which the canvas is almost as pleasing as the painted design. Even though there hasn't been a traditionally wood fired piece up in several weeks, I hope this takes a small step to a more thoughtful balance of styles and traditions.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


I am always looking for creative ways to fill the kiln to absolute capacity and after throwing the bulk of bigger pieces I set about making things other than the usual yunomi and teabowls. For this firing I made a number of tall, slender chaire style covered pieces with spire knobs as well as some western style tea caddies and a few Japanese style candlesticks. The three Oribe hakeme chaire in this slideshow video measure just about five inches tall with their lids and were fired on pins, you can see the tell tale marks from the pin tripods on the bottom of each piece. All three were fired without their lids on giving the mouth a nice glazed finish and only the very bottom of the lid ring is free of glaze. It is nice to expand the possibilities for packing the kiln and these recent tea caddies are great for quirky and hard to fill spaces between a bunch of round, squared and oval stuff.

Monday, October 17, 2016


I put together a short video slideshow of a rather nice Shino kinuta-hanaire, mallet vase by Hayashi Kotaro. The body of the piece is well articulated with facets and spatula work while the neck rises like a study spire from the shoulder, flaring toward the top with areas of scorching seen here and there. The rich color of the clay dramatically affects how the pot is perceived depending on the light source with it appearing blushed orange to pink with direct artificial light and a more subdued white with areas of highlights under natural lighting. The bottom of the pot shows wonderful areas of shadows created by firing the pot on straw just like the effects of hidasuki in Bizen together with an exhibition sticker, lucky number 13 that has survived since the late 1970s or very early 80s. Though made at least 35 years ago, this piece has a classical freshness that straddles the feudal and the modern, the goal of most potters who look to the Momoyama era to create works in the present, bull's-eye!

Friday, October 14, 2016


Since I have started my blog and even prior to that point, I have been asked by a number of collectors, just what is my fascination with Tsukigata Nahiko? The answer is simple, it is not exactly fascination, it is a bit more of a great appreciation of the work, the forms, the firing and all of the wonderful, even wondrous surfaces. Case in point is this illustrated detail shot of a Tsukigata Oni-Shino chawan, when is the last time you saw such a naturally spectacular surface as on this bowl? Sandwiched between the iron lip and the rusty, red clay this surface is a complex arrangement, much like a well constructed symphony of sight, not sound; the icy crackle, naturally deposited ash punctuated by a cosmic assortment of iron bleeding out through the feldspar glaze creating purple tinged spots painted across the surface. Though I am sure this was not planned, it is the abundance of serendipitous accidents that can be seen in many of Tsukigata's pots that make each one a welcome and appreciated encounter. Seriously, what's not to like?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Illustrated is a wonderful, small beaked pouring vessel made by Jeff Oestreich that was wax resist decorated with the application of a glaze and then soda fired to create this rich and varied surface. The attention to detail in this piece is exacting from the way the handle is attached, knob created for ease of use and how well the lid fits and sets into the elongated beak are all characteristics of the approach he brings to making pots. Though well thought out and practiced through repetition, Oestreich's pots each possess unique qualities that distinguish one pot from another partly due to the finesse of problem solving on the construction of each pot but also because it is just how he works. Being around Jeff while he made altered teabowls, teapots, pouring vessels, pitchers and large vases gives a glimpse in to how his mind works while he constructs his pots from thrown parts that are squared, cut, folded and darted to create forms that are unique to him. Though this particular pouring vessel is somewhat simple in its construction, getting all of the pieces parts to work well together and present such a unified front is no small feat and one achieved through nearly four decades of working in clay and problem solving day in and day out.

Monday, October 10, 2016


One could think that the day after our latest Presidential debate that I could be referencing the general mood of the country but as I was carefully schooled by a professor back in college it is best not to discuss politics, sex or religion if you wish to keep friends and not collect enemies and this advice has served me well. The title of the post relates to my 100th lamp that I have made over the course of making pots; it is not a large total but it has its illuminating qualities knowing that in and around Cleveland, Seattle, NY and a few other areas there are people using a pot that I made day in and day out. As a benefit of making pots there is always those moments when my wife or another family member needs soup bowls, mugs or in this case a lamp and I can oblige as best that I can though I draw the line at salt/pepper shakers and ash trays. This lamp was made as a request for my wife using the ishime-ji surface for a "landscapeman" design around the piece and it is finished off with a simple, craft paper style lampshade. It is not a really large lamp and has a 60watt bulb giving off enough light to just lighten up the bedroom from its perch on a 60" tall chest of drawers. Though we eat off many of my mismatched and irregular pots, it is a bit satisfying to make pottery that is intended as a part of the environment and plays a part in our everyday living.

Friday, October 7, 2016


I was having an email exchange recently regarding modern Hagi pottery, more specifically regarding chawan and what comes to mind immediately for me is the bowl that is illustrated. This picture obviously comes from a book and is of a wonderfully modern, traditional and idiosyncratic chawan by Miwa Kyusetsu XI (Jyusetsu) that typifies modern Hagi to my eye. Though best known for his Oni-Hagi, Shiro-Hagi pottery,  Kyusetsu's more traditional pottery is seen in full expression in this chawan; form, posture, lip, foot and surface show off the array of the best Hagi-yaki characteristics from rich daido clay to blushed, creamy surface with a lip that beckons to the user, "drink, drink deeply for that is my purpose". I know everyone has that specific image that is conjured up when mentioning a particular region, style or tradition but for me, this chawan is quintessential Showa Hagi and what always springs to mind.
"The surface of Hagi Ware is essentially feminine. It has a soft, warm quality and kind of fascination, as though if touched it might attach itself or bewitch you. Even Oni-Hagi Ware with its rough interior has a great calm surface. " Someno Yoshinobu, an extract from the catalogue of the Someno Collection.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


I put together a rather short slideshow video of a wonderfully large exhibition charger by Kondo Yutaka. I was lucky enough to have this 18"+ platter here for almost a month and it is both impressive and powerful, it is now with the owner who has a couple of other wonderful Japanese pots that it can commune with. There is little else I can say except enjoy the video.

Monday, October 3, 2016


"Luting; the act of attaching and sealing pottery parts or forms together with a clay slurry"
I learned a long while back that when throwing my terra cotta, it is best to make certain vase or bottle forms in two pieces, throwing the body and necks separately. This ends up being infinitely easier that throwing them in one piece where the terra cotta is constantly trying to collapse at every turn of the wheel head. I start out by throwing the bodies first and then measure the apertures and guesstimate what thrown neck form will look best on each piece, the illustration shows a single ware board with three bodies and their corresponding necks which are put together the next day after the pot base is trimmed with an inset foot. Once the pot and neck are put together I generally add some form of lug which connects from the neck to the body and brings some attention to the join and shoulder area. In this particular case, one of the vases will be black and white slipped and the other two will have an abstrakt resist decoration. This particular form works from very small to quite large though these pots will likely end up just shy of 14" when assembled. I can tell you from past experience, there is no music that I have that can make throwing these in one piece an enjoyable experience, thanks goodness to the person who pioneered luting pieces together all those centuries ago.