Friday, March 10, 2017


I have seen a lot of Meiji era pottery over the years from the studio wares, Kyo-yaki to the early pioneers who ushered in the studio pottery movement possibly best characterized a bit later by Hamada Shoji, Kawai Kanjiro, Kitaoji Rosanjin and Tomimoto Kenkichi.  The reason I bring up the early studio movement and modern studio potters is that I recently handled an Oribe koro that seemed to be much more Meiji than modern in clay, glaze and ukibori style decoration. Ukibori is best defined as carving that creates raised areas (relief) out of a surface common to metal, wood and clay and is a skill of patiences and attention to detail which this koro shows.

Made by classic Showa era Mino potter, Tobii Takashi (1941-2009), this koro was likely thrown and then had the ukibori decoration formed in a mold and then carefully applied, applique style to the koro surface, avoiding trapping any air behind the applique and then skillfully sealed to adhere the decoration to the piece. Once this was completed, the relief decoration was further fine tuned by adding details by hand for a wonderful array of foliage with thoughtful areas of negative space to be filled and articulated in the glazing. Once bisque the koro was selectively glazed in varying thicknesses of an Oribe glaze from deep, rich green to areas where only a sheen highlights the creamy surfaces and varying leaves pop out or fade into the distance. A few cherry blossoms, kiku can be seen on the body of the piece as well as on the lid where they are pierced to allow the koro to function. As I mentioned when I first saw this piece I thought I was looking at a Meiji era Kyo-yaki piece but as it turns out, appearances are deceiving for this great little Oribe Mino koro.