Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ikkuo Chawan

While my teaware collection is of not modest size, I do at times feel there is one big gap in my collection. That is when it comes to my chawan, tea bowls are often one of the priciest pieces of teaware a Ceramics Collector, and drinker of Japanese Greens might ever acquire. That I feel is largely due to the Japanese tea ceremony focusing on preparing matcha, and often viewed as a way to "show off" excluding the possibility of showing off in terms of the setting, the main focus of the ceremony is the chawan. Show off is not the right word, but it is supposed to both complement the season and the aesthetic created in the room, and make good tea. But needless to say chawan that are visually stunning often are priced far above what would be expected if it were just to be labeled a bowl. The oddest part is in my understanding the early tea ceremony's used rather modest teaware, and in the place of the Chawan was actually a rice bowl shaped similarly to some of today's chawan.

From Matcha

So I present to you my "most stunning chawan" which in all honesty is not all that stunning, slightly impractical to use, and its focal feature is actually one that is growing on my nerves, in general pieces like this get on my nerves. I call it the "forced wabi sabi" mark, which when you look at many pieces of teaware and pottery of various styles, you occasionally see something like this, where the artist had intentionality dented the piece. When this is done it is usually in one place, so it is not forming pattern or shape, and the only feasible explanation for it could be to help someone grip the piece, but with my large hands that is never really needed, so I view it as an attempt for the artist to force an imperfection into the piece, hence "forced wabi sabi."

Another one of its annoying features, is whisking in it can be incredibly hard I do not know if it is the extra tall sides, or more likely I feel the diameter of the piece is just slightly too small. That and its dimensions look slightly off when viewing it, as it is slightly taller than it is wide, which looks unnatural to me when thinking of Chawan.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Staining of Hagi

Granted I have only been collecting Hagi Yaki for a little over a year now, but in that time I have learned that each piece has a personality uniquely its own. Now there are many ways a piece can have personality, but the personality I am directly referring to in this post is how it changes through use. Like people there are people that look prematurely old, and then there are those that seem like the have the secret of youth.

One thing I will say the lighter the color of the glaze the more quickly it seems to show signs of use, and Seigan Blues are notoriously stain resistant. Case and point, the piece pictured below has been used likely over 50 times, and is probably getting rather close to 100 uses, although it hardly looks different than when it first arrived.

Ao teb close up

Whereas within far fewer uses, one of my quickest staining pieces inside looked like this.

Inside Kashun Yunomi

Which now the inside is much more evenly stained, and the outside nearly matches although is slightly lighter.

Though the type of piece also seems to alter how staining occurs, it seems most Kyusu's and Hohin, are made in such a way that staining progresses much slower, although sometimes things happen in rather curious ways. Such as seen in this picture.

Choun Hohin

The staining starting occur in certain areas of this hohin are rather amazing, as it is started above most water levels, and the opposite side of the spout. My only guess is, as I tend to treat hohins more like Chinese teapots, often filling them rather close to the rim, that the exposed clay rim in that area on the back of the piece is slightly more porous, and has absorbed water and tea and, tried to expel it through the glaze on the outside causing those stains.

While I have a decent feel as to how quickly the inside of a piece can start to stain, usually dependent on the type of glaze, color of glaze, and thickness of glaze. The outside is a major toss up, seemingly more reliant on the how the piece was made. I do not know a lot about what goes into firing temperatures and how it alters the clay body, nor do I know if a two seemingly identical pieces can be radically different due to its production. Such as for some of the artists who read this, could a clay body possibly be made more dense, by squeezing harder in a pinch-work or thrown piece?