Friday, December 30, 2016


I wanted to take this time to wish everyone a very Happy New Year, the year of the rooster. Illustrated is an older tokkuri and newer guinomi by Shigaraki potter, Kohyama Yasuhisa, just about the best way I can think of to toast in the new year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Illustrated is an Oribe style teabowl with a slip made up using leftovers; materials that have accumulated over the years, from defunct studios, friends and what have you. My normal black slip is made using cobalt, iron oxide and manganese but for this small batch of slip I used iron chromate and black copper oxide, both of which I have five pounds of that truthfully I have no recollection of inheriting and certainly did not purchase though both have been used over the years. I only made up 500gr of the slip which fits nicely in a small deli container and used it in place of my regular formula. As you can see from the picture, the slip bled quite a bit creating a droozy surface with tendrils reaching to the surface of the glaze creating floating metallic areas a bit reminiscent of oilspot pots though neither controllable or as reflective. I am not sure what I think about this effect and will probably make a few more pieces for a future firing but what I can say is that it surely is different than my stand slip and adds a varied quality to the main Oribe glaze I am using. I guess time and testing will tell.

Monday, December 26, 2016


Accommodate: the transitive verb; to make fit, suitable or congruous; to bring in to agreement or concord; to give consideration to
As I push through more slides, negatives and photos and convert them in to digital images, I come across pictures that I just completely forgot about. This blue pot is one such image dating back to about 1995 (?) or so from a show of Colin Pearson pots that we saw in Chicago. Like a Pearson piece from a previous post, this pot is in fact a fully functional teapot though a careful and studied use is suggested as its use is not necessarily 100% straight forward. I love the way that Pearson added appendages and handles to his pitchers, jugs and teapots suggesting their function while challenging the viewer and user to accommodate themselves to a slightly provocative manner of engagement. This technique proved to be both visual and intellectually stimulating and it is what makes many of Colin Pearson's later works among the highest level of the potter's art of the Twentieth Century.

Friday, December 23, 2016



I can only guess that if you move from America's heartland to the West Coast, Cali to be specific, you need whatever prompts possible to get in to the mood for the holidays now upon us. That being said, there are times when you can push the boundaries of preparation by stringing up hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights or say, adding that festive touch to your large and impressive tsubo by Tsukigata Nahiko. All I can say is this may not necessarily be how I would decorate my Tsukigata tsubo if I had one but to each and every collector there are more than likely a plethora of ways to harken in the upcoming festivities and certainly this is one that will not be easy to forget. Since what has been seen can not be unseen I have posted a before and after photo of the tsubo at rest and at play.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, a wonderful Festivus for the Rest-of-Us and a very Happy New Year to all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


I have a friend that has been on several cruise (and was on one just recently!) and prefers them as package deals; the all inclusive, one price, end of story. I guess this way you know exactly what you are in for and exactly what you are getting and there is a level of comfort in that scenario. With some Japanese pots you get exactly the same thing, you know what the core of the package is in terms of the pot but then there are the bonus add ons like custom made silk bags, named pots, signed boxes and a storage box for the storage box, essentially a similar thing in that it is a package deal all for one price. I recently was able to handle and photograph a pot that was named, exhibited and double boxed that a collector I know was able to purchase. This piece is surely the epitome of package deals and the pot itself (look forward to a slideshow video in the future) was among the best of this type I have ever seen. Perhaps my cruise friend is right, a package deal with all the bells and whistles included is the way to go when ever possible especially with pots but given our current weather, maybe a cruise would hit the spot!

Monday, December 19, 2016


Illustrated is a large thrown black and white slipware plate with a trio of slipware pots decorating the surface. All three of the slip pots are pieces that I actually make though it was far easier to slip them on to the surface of the plate than to make them in three dimensions. The plate was about 24" across and thrown out of my terra cotta on to which the black and white slips were applied and then a clear glaze once bisque. I like making slipware as I have mentioned before, there is no real room for hesitation, it is direct and creates a vivid and dimensional decoration. The real bonus of the slipware pots is that once decorated, they just need to dry, bisque and get glazed, a bit easier than some of the processes needed to get other pots completed and in this particular case I get three pots and a plate finished all at the same time.

Friday, December 16, 2016


Though not exactly the correct quote from OLIVER TWIST, I suspect you get the idea and it is a fitting sentiment when it comes to ink paintings, washes and calligraphy by potters, a medium I am particularly fond of as I suspect it give you a glimpse of how they see their work. In this case I found another landscape chawan ink wash by Juyo Mukei Bunkazai, Arakawa Toyozo depicting one of his famous E-Shino style teabowls with a Momoyama-esque underglaze ink painting rendered in what would appear to be iron pigment. Like the others of this style that I have seen, the painting is fast, direct without any waste of superfluous details to capture the true spirit in ink what his clay does for his pottery. I have seen several chawan with accompanying kakejiku scrolls over the years and though this seems to be more of a generalized chawan as a two dimensional rendering, I am still holding out hope that just one of these days, Santa or some other questionable figure will put me and a similar three dimensional chawan at the same place at the same time (as in ownership!); well one can hope anyway.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


A while back I wrote a blog post entitled; GONE YESTERDAY, HERE TODAY, which chronicled (!) the sheer coincidence in making two posts about two very different pots and in a rather short period of time we were able to collect one exceptionally similar pot and in the other case, the exact pot we wrote about. I put together this short video slideshow to try to give a fuller depth and dimension to the piece because in hand it is just wonderful. The glaze surface is cool and smooth while the heavily crazed surface adds a sense of intensity, warmth and conflict to the bowl while the iron and underglaze red flower adds the tranquil element which both ties in the opposing elements and draws the eye in to the rather harmonious whole. Enjoy the slideshow and thoughts and comments are always welcome.

Monday, December 12, 2016


I started using nudes as part of my decoration on pots during my last year at Cleveland State. I am not 100% sure how or why but I used old myths and fables as the basis for the designs and even turned traditional male antagonists and protagonists into female figures, it somehow just worked on the pottery and I think they portray a rather fun and positive imagery. Along the way I came up with a single and mirrored image of Rapunzel that with her flowing red-blonde hair articulated the surface of plates and open bowls rather well and over time the design has found its way on to pieces ranging from six inches to almost three feet across and on pitchers that have been as tall as two feet plus. The illustrated plate is roughly 14" across and shows the stylized mirrored Rapunzel design with a turbulent and stormy sky as the backdrop. I can say from a long time of experience, there are always designs and decorations that can get tiresome and even stale, for me, this is not one of them.
"Rapunzel. Rapunzel, lass deine Haare fallen  damit ich goldene Treppe steige."*
(* I apologize to any German readers if this is not the correct translation, I do my best!)

Friday, December 9, 2016


I was searching around on the web and came across this picture of a nice Shino mallet vase by Mizuno Takuzo, my original search didn't pan out despite searching for some time so in some ways this vase is a consolation prize of sorts. The form is certainly deliberate in nature with the type of inward taper moving toward the shoulder with the neck flaring out as it goes up giving the mallet just the right sense of proportions and geometry that appeals to me. Though there doesn't appear to be any iron slip applied, the Shino surface has blushed to pinks and orange flashes from top to bottom and coupled with the excellent texture makes for a rather visually engaging pot. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the shallow depression that moves from the shoulder to the neck which is highlighted by a spiraling texture that goes around the pot and is dusted with just a hint of wood ash especially in the depressions. I think if I was pressed I could come up with a reasonable explanation of what it is about the mallet form that interests me, but the short cut to the answer is simple, it appeals to me at a visceral level, I respond to the borrowed purpose and weathered aesthetic that is imparted on pots just exactly like this piece by Mizuno Takuzo. There is little more that I can ask or expect from a pot.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


I put together a short video slideshow of a chaire by Yamada Masakazu who specializes in wood fired Shino, Oribe and Haiyu glazes. The small lidded chaire is glazed just over the shoulder and the rest of the effects are all natural from the wood firing making for a half and half blend of all natural and applied surface. Appearing feudal in its origins, this pot is a purposefully made chaire ready for use in the tea ceremony or equally at home on a shelf on display; enjoy the video.

You can see more of this chaire over at my Trocadero market place; 

Monday, December 5, 2016


Illustrated is a green ware terra cotta tray form with opposing carved fish decorating the interior. Loosely based on the Pisces zodiac design, I wanted the fish to appear to be in motion to help animate the long form and added spiral bubbles to help fill in the left over negative space. I have spent a lot of time looking at and studying Japanese painting from the Momoyama to Edo periods and the undecorated space has as much to say as does that with the actual painted design. It may not appear to be influenced by Japanese woodblocks and ink paintings but if you think of the interior of the form as a long panel, just like that of a hanging scroll, the border or boundary is the frame that focuses the attention of the narrative while striving to have a playfulness that interests the user whether as a decorative accent or a functional object.

Friday, December 2, 2016


Illustrated is a broad and generous Karatsu-kawakujira (whale's mouth) decorated guinomi by Ikai Yuichi (b.1963). Ikai, a native of Kyoto and the Gojo-zaka area first studied with Shimizu Yasutaka and then Ningen Kokuho, Shinizu Uiichi before moving north of Kyoto to set up his Kihei-gama noborigama kiln where he has honed his skills in both celadon and ash glazes. At just about four inches across this guinomi is a handful and the pebbled, kairagi crawled surface just adds to the pot making for a blend of sight, touch and taste while in use. With many pots the sense of touch is overlooked but with a guinomi like this, Ikai hasn't failed to include any of the senses from the view of the pot, the smell and taste of the sake, the feel of the surface and the sound of the ubiquitous toast; kanpai!