Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rustic Elegance

Biwa Kofuku Wan

There is something about Hagi Yaki which I think these photos emphasize. They are not made with crisp clean lines, they are not covered with a perfect sheet of glaze, they are so simple that even certain artisan made pieces look as though they were made by an amateur potter.

Shira Kofuku Wan

While these pieces are designed to show Wabi Sabi, at the same time they are almost made in such a fashion as to make them seem unpretentious. I can relay a story in which I had a repair man visit my apartment, and upon seeing my collection, had assumed that I made all of them. Trying to always seem modest myself I was unsure whether or not I should correct him, as I did not want to relay exactly how much money was sitting on those shelves, but at the same time I did not want to take credit for others work.

Though it is a bit of an odd comment in certain respects. Looking at me and my age, I hardly suspect he thought I was some highly talented and well practiced artist. So I am uncertain as to whether he thought these pieces were unpracticed, and not that great, or if he thought they were amazing works of art.

Either way, Hagi yaki offers something few other works of art do, and that is a rustic and homelike nature to it, which is still in its almost grotesque way elegant.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Oh Dear, Karatsu

Kimata Kaoru Yunomi Koudei

"First Raku, second Hagi, third Karatsu" is a known saying in Japan in regards to their preference of teaware. What has always amazed me is how easy it has been for me to find quality Hagi yaki online, but I do not think I have yet seen a Raku yaki piece that is not a Chawan. And while I have found a source for quality Karatsu it comes from only a single artist.

The artist that produced this Karatsu Yunomi is Kimata Kaoru, and I will say it is stunning. I have been branching out from my love of Hagi Yaki. In doing so I have discovered I may have been wrong to believe that I loved Hagi Yaki most of all Japanese teawares.

Kimata Kaoru Yunomi 2

Not only is this a rustic and simple elegance, it also stains. this is two things I loved about Hagi. The colors are much more natural than some Hagi colors. While the glaze does not crawl, at certain times I feel Hagi's crawling is a bit in excess, or comes in colors I do not find favorable. One thing I had loved about Hagi is that it stains in cracks, and shows how much use/ love it has gotten.

Staining Karastsu 2

As seen by these two pictures this Karatsu piece is clearly staining (and quickly too, these photos were taken after 1 session of Sencha). I look forward to seeing this piece change and I can not wait to see how it develops.

Staining Karatsu

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Buying online

There is a certain site that a lot of us Westerners love when searching for deals on items without having to jump through a large amount of hoops. To try and avoid a bunch of unwanted comments I will spell it backwards to hopefully deter some searches, yabe, now said site has its fair share of flaws, from sellers using a second account, or a friend to bid up the items they are selling to try and get as much money as they can. Others post information which is blatantly false, which of course may be intentional, or they are just passing on information that was told to them.

For instance, there is one vendor who from this description might be able to be guessed somewhat easily, that sells all sorts of Japanese items quite a few of them pottery based. Although in every description they claim that the piece is X years old while the number X changes occasionally, it is still quite amazing as they are always X years old but more often than not in "like new" condition. While I have not been able to concretely determine this vendor has ever lied about the age of a piece, I will say I have probable cause to suspect that the vendor did on at least one piece. (After checking several biographies on the artist of the piece, and cross listing it with age listed of the piece, it would have meant the piece in question was made several years before the artist got interested in ceramics).

But honestly it seems like that vendors biggest flaw is advertising items to be older than they likely are. It could be much worse, on yabe I have seen some pieces that I would consider the equivalent of shoe polish yixing in terms of hagi ware. These pieces were claimed to be antiques, and while I could not vouch for their age, what scared me is it looked like they were repeatedly dipped in mud and wiped clean. There is a difference to how a piece naturally ages and this horrible attempt to falsely age. The most noticeable is Hagi yaki tend to have cracks in the glaze which darken, then through even more use, the liquid in side slowly seeps through those cracks into the body and out the other side staining the cracks on the outside. While this can lead to discoloration in the clay body, I have never seen it cause a piece to look like it was thrown in the mud and wiped clean.

I wish I copied pictures of the pieces in question but I can not seem to find them any more. But this goes for something in general on these auction sites, if something seems over done, too good to be true, or just in general suspect it is always good to be careful.