Saturday, October 12, 2013

Woodfired Pinchwork Chawan

Pinchwork Teabowl

This chawan was the large bowl I made in my woodfired ceramics class that was reasonably thin enough to be sipped from.  My other massive bowl which has really cool glazing effects is so thick and heavy, it might better be served as gym equipment than a functional piece.  The longer this Chawan has sat upon the shelf the more and more it called to me, I honestly wish I had some Matcha on hand to see how it handles the wonderful green powdered tea.  However not having any in stock, with no prospect for one in the near future, I have not used it.  Until I caved in and decided to use it for "grandpa style" which is just leaves and hot water in the bowl and sipped from casually.

Pinchwork teabowl(1)

While this piece is not without a plethora of flaws, it might actually be one of my best pieces from that firing.   The "glazing" took on all sorts of wonderful effects in the fire, and the shape is not entirely unpleasing, and potentially the best balanced.  Though having those accolades from my pieces from that firing is a bit like being the least rotten apple in a bag full of rotten apples.   The shape is entirely wonky, the picture above hints at it, while the foot seems to be in the *center* the wall was pushed out a lot further on one side than the other. The biggest success of this piece as seen below, is the wall thickness is quite nice for a piece that is designed to be sipped from.

Pinchwork Teabowl (3)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Oribe? I'm not sure but it is cool to use!

Sorry I have not posted in quite some time, but I decided to write up notes on another piece I made in the Anagama kiln.   Looking at the interior of this wan the only guess I have as to the glaze used is an oribe glaze, but well you tell me.

Large Wan 1 (3)

While yes there is a good amount of green inside, there is a heck of a lot of purple.  It honestly reminds me of an odd imitation of a Japanese Sansai glaze, though this appears far more glassy than Yamane Seigan's and has a fair bit of crackling in the glaze ( oddly looks like a Celadon that has weird purple hues to it).  While the shape certainly leaves much to be desired, as I think the hardest thing about pinchwork pottery is not having a good guess at how the clay will behave in the firing because it underwent such odd torques and twists in the forming, not to mention often has less than uniform thickness all over the piece.

Large Wan 1 (1)

I forget exactly how far back this piece was placed,but looking at it again, most the unglazed exterior is mostly bare of ash deposits my guess is this had to be somewhat far back in the kiln.  The photo above shows the part of the piece that was furthest from the firebox and on the opposite side of the piece from the flow of ash, as you can see it is quite bare, and part of it did not even really get that blushed.  While below we have the part that took the brunt of the ash flow.

large wan 1

While I really don't like this piece all that much, I must say the glaze effects are fascinating, I really have to throw up my hands and say I have no clue why so much purple came from an oribe, or even why in the middle of all that purple I got some intense forest green areas.   This piece though feels oddly alive in a way I am not sure I can quite yet explain, but the glaze feels almost like water/ and vegetation surviving in an otherwise barren desert.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Those Special Pieces

While my teaware display I still consider far from perfect, I still feel it is quite nicely put together.  But one of the things I really like about my new display set up, which can be seen here.  Is I managed to create a dedicated space and interesting display for my very special pieces of teaware.  While the following picture does not show it, I also have a desk lamp on the other portion of this cubby which I can use to light up these pieces at night when I am drinking tea to put them in extra focus.

Teaware display

It just so happens that each of my very nice pieces came with a cloth stamped with the artists chop giving an extra flair to the display.  But why do I consider these 4 pieces "special."

From the back right, let me just say if I am ever to own a piece produced by a Living National Treasure of Japan that Kaneta Masanao has the best chance of being that piece!  Masanao is a phenomenal artist, that takes a sculptural approach to pieces used for everyday use.  Going towards the camera, an oil spot piece, in fact the only oil spot piece I own, but with the white background and blueish/purple effects inside the cup, it is a piece that I have never been able to take a photograph that does it justice, it is truly a wonderful piece to behold in person.

Going to the left two pieces,  in the back is an piece from Toru's at Artistic Nippons Artist Focus section, and a Karatsu Artist.  While the piece itself seems plain and the glazing simple, between the wonderfully textured clay body, to the walls that are so thin it seems like a crime against physics.  Going forward is another piece that I think is an incredible eye catcher, though I have yet to formulate a very good reason as to why it deserves the special focus section of my display.  It is wood fired, and wonderfully constructed, and certainly not unworthy of its spot in the display.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Onishi Masafumi Tanba Yaki Guinomi

Masafumi guinomi

This is a special piece I purchased for my birthday this past May.  Oddly fitting as I had just come from working on a wood fire, that I should buy a piece from a Japanese pottery town known for producing wonderful wood fired pieces.  This piece was certainly woodfired, though it has a very minimal build up of ash, it did however smell like a bonfire for quite awhile after receiving the piece.

While guinomi are technically Sake cups, I found them nice to adapt to tea for when you want to have smaller cups of tea.  This cup is going to be an additional cup for Gyokuro, though it might occasionally be used for some Chinese oolongs as well.

Masafumi guinomi (2)

The most apparent features of this cup are an almost black rock like appearance, looking like it is made from volcanic rock, and just to give it an extra rugged appeal it is faceted in a spiral fashion around the cup. The nicest parts about the facets is they are rather widely spaced, giving a plethora of comfortable spots for fingers to grip the piece.  Though do not let the appearance fool you this piece is rather soft and light weight.

The most interesting portion of this piece, though incredibly hard to photograph is that the interior is actually glazed with a goldish colored glaze.  While an incredibly thin glaze, it really adds a little bit more of a mystery to this piece.  If I had one critique about this piece, which is really just picking knits with personal preference, the foot seems unfinished to me.  ( I will try and add a picture later.)

Though as part of my gyokuro set up, I now have what I call Heaven and Hell.

Heaven and Hell Gyokuro theme

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Hokujo Kyusu

Hokujo Kyusu (1)

This kyusu is a dream to hold and use.  I have said that I seem to be escalating the quality of the kyusu's a buy each time, and I am really not sure how much higher I can climb even though this was a rather affordable kyusu.   This is a wonderfully light piece of potter with a soft and delicate clay which I honestly say makes me think I am holding air, or really do not have a good grip on anything at all when I am holding this but looking somewhere else.

Hokujo Kyusu

Larger than my Gyokko kyusu by at least double its size, it is just as light if not lighter.  It also has an incredibly fine sesame screen pictured below.  I wish I was making this up, but since purchasing this kyusu, I have only once used one of my other kyusu to brew sencha, even though I have made it a dozen or more times ( probably closer to two dozen times).

Maiko Kinari Shincha 2013

I could honestly rant and rave about this kyusu, some more, but I think the pictures more than do it justice.  I highly encourage everyone to look into some of these artisan Tokoname Kyusu.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mukuhara Kashun Tsuchinohana Yunomi

Mukuhara Kashun Tsuchinohana Yunomi

I can not remember how many years ago it was that a Tsuchinohana Yunomi from Mukuhara Kashun first caught my eye.  Well needless to say, that one was bought before I could save up the money, and I have been watching them in anticipation ever since, finally for my 25th birthday decided to purchase one.   I was asked by someone what caught my eye about this style of piece, and it is something that I struggle to put into words.  I could do it in one word, heavily weighted with a multitude of different meanings all buried within.  So in one word: impermanence.

Maybe it is the fact that it looks ancient when brand new, looks like one good wind storm or a down poor of rain will cause it to crumble away.  Something that is almost the antithesis of flashy, in the sense that you would far more expect to see this cup in a little cave, or hermits hovel, as opposed to a palace, or mansion.   While it really is not frail ( though I haven't fully tested that, and I do not intend to any time soon)  the appearance is somewhat endearing.

Mukuhara Kashun Tsuchinohana Yunomi (1)

As to the actual details of the piece, incredibly light weight, with a smooth but bumpy texture, from the very sandy clay.   As pictured above it has a lovely kiln/glaze effect up one side of the piece, which really highlights all the sand in the clay body.  The foot looks a bit small  but is nicely carved.  Though Mukuhara kashuns chop is so small and such an irregular shape I often have a very hard time discerning it from the standard bumps and cracks in some of his more coarse clay bodies.

Mukuhara Kashun Tsuchinohana Yunomi (2)

The most interesting aspect about this yunomi is how it appears to be riddled with all sorts of very veyr tiny cracks, some large and clearly going through the glaze, and others very very small, and completely covered by the outer glaze,or are perhaps just slight fissures in the outer glaze, revealing the underglaze, but it really gives a very dry and cracked earth appearance to the piece.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Copper Yunomi


Kiln placement is certainly an amazing thing.  This being one of my pieces from the latest Ceramics class that I took, and as you will see nearly all the pieces look completely different from one another.  This piece like all the others is unglazed on the outside.  Well actually I lie with this one, on this cup I dipped my finger in the glaze and made a few streaks on the outside of the cup, but you can barely notice them unless you are specifically looking for them.

This piece though came out looking pure copper in color nearly the whole way around.  None of the white/ green ash build up on the outside.  The above picture shows the area that accumulated the most ash, which only give the slightest hint of the white ash build up that quite a few of my other piece are nearly covered in.

Yunomi (2)

This is the bare side of the piece, which you can see two of those finger swipes with glaze on the outside, the rest is basically clay that was blushed by the fire, to a degree that it blends wonderfully with the rest of the piece.

Yunomi (4)

I gave this cup a try yesterday, it preforms well enough, but something just doesn't feel quite right about using it.  Proportions seem off in too many ways, lip is too thick, foot is too small, size and weight just in general seem off.   It is fun to look at especially in what I captured nicely in the photo below.  The interior of this cup is oddly mesmerizing.

Yunomi (5)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A yunomi by yours truely

small wan

This is the first piece I made the was pulled from the anagama kiln from my class at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts that I have used.  I used it two nights in a row, while it is a good size for sencha, it is also an interesting and good shape for Chinese teas as well, though often only filling it a third to half of the way with the way I brew.

small wan (1)

I actually quite enjoy this piece, although it is weird to look back at the pictures of the pieces before they were fired.  As all the lips were even all the way around, I did not realize how much the thickness causes pieces to contract in the kiln, giving way to a rather uneven lip.

small wan (2)

The interior color is fantastic for tea, although reduction did cause some ashy shadows to occur inside the piece which give the piece a nice bit of added character.  In the hand the piece feels nice, although I am large person and a little on the stronger side, so I do not mind the slight heft to this piece.   In fact I bought a new Kyusu that I will need to share on here in a bit, that actually scares me to handle because even though it is a decent size, it feels so light that it nearly feels like I am holding air when moving it.

small wan (3)

I will say I am happy with all my anagama kiln pieces, and am actually shocked at how incredibly different they all are based on where they were placed in the kiln.   I forget exactly where this piece was, I believe in approximately the "middle" as it does not have  a huge amount of ash build up, but it is far from being mostly bare like one of my other pieces.   I should also mention that this only has glaze applied to the interior, everything on the left half of the piece in the picture above is built up wood ash.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Kimita Kaoru Karastu Yunomi Video

Enjoy this video showing off my Karatsu yunomi by Kimita Kaoru.  This video includes narration of myself talking about the piece and what I enjoy the most of this wonderful simple yunomi.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Xu De Jia Celadon Ceramics Video

I took out my camera and filmed myself talking about my Xu De Jia celadon pieces.  They are at three different levels of staining, and my Chawan is starting to look really cool, I can't wait till the outside looks that way as well.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Antique Qing Dynasty Cup

Antique Porcelain Cup (1)

Do not take my word on this cups provenance, heck I barely feel right calling this a porcelain cup, though the clay does appear to have a porcelain character to it.  But it certainly is not the refined pure white, with stylized blue of typical antique Chinese blue and white porcelain.

Antique Porcelain Cup

This piece is surprisingly shallow, but feels quite nice while it is being held.  It has that slightly different feel that older pieces tend to have, especially when compared to brand new porcelain cups.  The brush work is incredibly confusing, but quite intriguing, the longer and longer I looked at it, the more it looks like someone started out being rather detailed with a well thought out plan, then a mistake was made, and the rest of the piece was done quite half heartedly and sloppily.

This foot photo shows it the best, but I really should have taken a photo before I cleaned the piece. It clearly looks as though it was either artificially aged or spent a decent bit of time buried under ground.  Though that is potentially how they got the somewhat arbitrary date of "1750." 

Its an interesting cup, and certainly looks nice with tea in it, and is fun to use.  In the future I may look into validating its supposed age. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

My Pieces for the Wood Kiln

My pieces for the wood kiln

I guess I should attach a footnote on that title.  The attempted tea tray which was going to be a gamble anyway that is in the back, and bone dry, did not survive the night.  I went to pick it up by its edge, and SNAP! I am sure I don't need to tell any tea drinkers on the forum a tea tray is only useful if it can actually hold the water.

I have two carved pieces attempting to mimic Kaneta Masanao and his carved pieces ( far right).  One I hope to be a yunomi, the taller thinner one I hope to be a flower vase.  Two teabowls are missing from this line up.  Above you see two more teabowls, and two pinchwork yunomis of slightly different shapes.

These pieces while I am working on making a fluid piece throughout the entire piece, they are sort of a tale of two sides.  What do I mean by that, well lets look at the yunomi feet.

While I like these strong very apparent feet, they are very geometric in nature, compared to the rather fluid and ebbing and flowing nature of the pinch work sides.  I can only hope these survive bisque firing.  Then it will be time to glaze them and prepare them for the firing in early May. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A late 90's 90ml Yixing Teapot

So I know a few years I wrote a post somewhat denouncing yixing ( I forget if it was on this blog, or my tea blog), but I have slowly waded in, and the pace has made all the difference.  The first rule of Yixing, do not even think about yixing until you have read massive amounts about them, and drank massive amounts of tea so you know where your tastes lie.  Somewhere in there you should also look through massive amounts of pictures, it would help if these pictures also came with feedback from others indicating to some degree if anything look suspect.  While not all bad pots can be identified by picture, ( and some good pots do not look that great in photos), at least being able to start there is a good way to make sure you do not make many many many dollars worth of mistakes.
90ml Zini Shui Ping

This pot has a wonderful clay body, while not overtly sandy on the outside, there is obviously a very fine sand inside the clay body itself, its as the vendor put it after I bought the yixing "a very strokable pot." This is the best photo I have been able to snap of the texture of the pot, and yes it is mildly textured just through the creation process itself.

90ml Zini Shui Ping Spout

Thought this picture was fun, not perfectly lined up, not entirely sure if it is the pot or my angle with the photo, but fairly straight line through the spout nob, and handle.   I should also remakr about the color, I have other Zini pots which are honestly more brown, this pot as these photos hint has a nice purple/ reddish hint to it, in person the pot almost reminds me of a deep maroon color, a very nice and appealing color.

80s Wild Arbor Loose Sheng

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Two Guinomi ( made by myself)

The amazing thing about networking is sometimes offers come your way that seem too good to pass up, these two pieces are related to such an offer.  Through a tea forum I have had access to conversations with several well respected teaware artisans, one of which gave me the offer that if I could get some pieces bisque fired to send them off to him to be glazed and fired in his wood kiln.  I choose these two guinomi.

Chamferred Guinomi

Chamferred Guinomi (1)

This first piece started a bit of pinch work forming the indentation in the center, then I carved out the rest of the piece.  It was finished off by Shawn at Greenwood Studios in his wood kiln, and these photos are taken by him as I have been horribly remiss in snapping photos.

Carved Guinomi

Carved Yunomi (1)

These last two photos are from a piece I carved completely by hand from a block of clay. This was placed in a "special" part of the kiln known for creating intense firing effects, which is seen by the huge amount of ash bullets built up on this piece.

Friday, March 1, 2013

It was only a matter of time...

It was only a matter of until I started having dreams about ceramics.  In the past week I have had two dreams involving ceramics, one a just weird dream, and the other a nightmare.

The first dream while weird because it was surreal in only the way dreams can be, but it involved a ceramics class, but this time it took place in a large warehouse, which I remember wandering around for quite some time, there were huge palates of every single type of clay imaginable.  A giant section of glazes, and all throughout the warehouse were tables for people to make pieces.  I am not sure if it was a giant ceramics store, or if it was a very well stocked studio, but it was interesting.  I forgot the parts of the dream that made it really weird, i.e. the task I was trying to accomplish and the weird emotions running throughout the dream.

The second dream, I honestly forgot most of it, but I remember the ceramic part as clear as day, and I think it is deeply related to frustrations I have with one of my favorite pieces.

Seong-Il Chawan

This Seong Il chawan, which I love for its rustic form and simple glaze, the glaze has not adhered to the rim of the chawan well at all, and in several places just through use and time the glaze has popped off certain parts of the rim.  Well the dream took that a little further, in using the chawan, it got tipped over and a very large portion of the glaze popped off, I picked it up and in frustration at this effect, I chucked the chawan to the ground shattering it into pieces.

I am not some one who reads into dreams, but understanding a little bit about what dreams actually are, I figure the fact that I am dreaming about ceramics indicates that they have reached a certain level in my life, requiring a decent amount of time spent thinking about ceramics in my life.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Some shots of clay works in progress

Infinite Possibilities

I promised some studio shots, and this post is hopefully the first of several that deliver.    The blobs above are how I first set up my clay to start my pinching and forming of the pieces.  I have been exploring several different shapes, I did not photo graph any pieces that are really close to being ready for the bisque fire.  But I did take some photos of the progress I made towards two pieces that day.

Yunomi in Progress

This is going to be a yunomi, and while it looks very blocky, I am a huge advocate of nice koudai on pieces even pinch work ones, so when the clay dries out slightly, I carve away at the bottom of the piece to get the desired foot and bottom shape I want.

The same idea holds true for the tea bowl/ chawan below.  The base is extra block like so I can really get in there and carve it down to how I want it to be.   I also included a side shot.

Teabowl in progress

Teabowl in progress side

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Shibuya Eiichi Yunomi Video

I shot another video showing off some more of my teaware so you can get a bit of how the piece looks like in sizing, and when it is moving about.  Shibuya Eiichi is a real up an coming Hagi Artist and is the grandson of Shibuya Deishi another Hagi potter whose work I really admire, and use on a regular basis.  

Its rather funny as for the longest time every single Shibuya Eiichi piece I saw had a white glaze on the piece. The Kohiku Yunomi is in the first run of pieces I have seen from Eiichi which was not glazed in white, though it looks like a rather classic Hagi glaze, though it does not seem to be crackling and staining like most Hagi glazes.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Working With Clay

There is something amazing about working with clay.  While I am far from proficient at throwing, I have in my ceramics class which is based on firing in an anagama kiln later this spring, been working on hand building pieces.  This is the second clay body I have worked with, and its already teaching me a lot.  I never realized that different clay bodies could act so incredibly different.

I hope I can snap some pictures of this, but for now I can not, but I am making several pinch work teabowls, and this new clay body specially formed for firing in the Anagama kiln when it gets exposed to air even for a somewhat short amount of time dries to the level where the exposed sections crack easily.  As such I have a teabowl that I am really hoping looks out, as it has an incredible tree bark crackling effect on its outside.

Yet there is something so peaceful about working with clay, that I am sure I do not need to tell any potters.  My teachers have often said let the clay do what it wants, and honestly while you are forming the clay, each piece is unique as each little bit of clay really wants to do something special that only that bit of clay wants to do.  So no matter what you are doing, its always turning into a hybrid of letting the clay do what it wants, while guiding it into the form you ultimately want.  The very best pieces have both come together in perfect harmony, and it really is magical.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Seigan Tebineri Wans

Sansai Tebineri Seigan

This is a piece I have had for quite some time now, it is a massive Yunomi/ wan, but so incredibly enjoyable.  It is tebineri ( pinchwork), and in the Sansai glaze.  I am a huge fan of pinchwork pieces as they are wonderful to feel and hold close in your hands.  Even better is the Sansai glaze is mostly white in color wonderfully showing of the color of the tea.

Sansai Teb

As you can see the glaze has some rather cool patterns.  I actually think this Sansai wan is much better than my similar Blue pinchwork one, as it always has driven me crazy how incredibly wonky the top of my Blue Pinchwork wan shown below.

Ao Teb

The glazing in the blue wan is mesmerizing and the sizing is much better for sencha, though it is still a massive cup.   But it is always good to know that if I ever need a travel matcha set up I can take the Sansai wan and go!

Sansai with Matcha Powder

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Now On Youtube!

First and foremost I want to apologize for the somewhat sketchy quality of these videos, I will work on improving them, and also test various lighting conditions.  But I am launching a series of You tube videos featuring ceramics, and hopefully feature me brewing various types of tea showing off brewing styles and practices.

My first two are up, and they feature some nice Hagi Yaki pottery.  First up is the Kaneta Masanao Yunomi.  Now you can see how It looks in motion.

Second up is my family of Shibuya Deishi Wans! ( Chawan down to Yunomi).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Kaneta Masanao Yunomi

Kaneta Masanao Yunomi (3)

In almost any area, once you have done enough reading, browsing, research, etc. you find people who you deeply respect their work.  Kaneta Masanao is one such ceramic artist for myself.  While Hagi-yaki was my first love so to speak in terms of ceramic styles, it is only fitting that one of the artists I had most lusted over is an well respected Hagi artist.

In a way not often done in these traditional pottery styles, Kaneta Masanao seems to be breaking into new frontiers in Hagi.  His forms are often fresh and unique, and his glazing impeccable.  I have often felt his pieces are usable sculptures ( which some will argue is a requirement for all great works of ceramics, especially Chawans). 

Kaneta Masanao Yunomi (2)

This yunomi shows off the things I love most from his work. Wonderfully carved, in a fashion that toes the line between carefree and masterfully thought out.  Even better it shows off the wonderful blush yohen effects from the kiln fire.

Kaneta Masanao Yunomi (1)

Such a wonderful cup, and greatly sized.  Though my hands are still trying to find exactly how to hold this cup very naturally.  My hand fits on it in many ways, and it not that noticeable when the cup is warm, but when the cup was cold when I pulled it out of the box this morning, it just felt so awkward in my hand.

Shincha in Masanao Yunomi

This would make a great piece for a personal "Museum Collection."

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Greenwood Studio's Wan

Greenwood Wan

This orange wood-fired beauty comes from Shawn over at Greenwood Studio's.  I have two more pieces that were glazed and fired by Shawn but made by myself.   This one though as far as I know was made entirely by Shawn.

This picture shows off the wonderful effects in the glaze, but hides the nice form factor, there is actually several "wings" around where the vertical walls meed the sloping base into the food of the cup.  I do not know if they were intended to go all the way around and got dented in production or firing, or if it was completely intentional.

This piece is actually a very nice size, with incredibly thin, but sturdy walls.  I have used it quite a few times, though the first time was a bit of a shock, it once again showed me that when getting a brand new piece, a good soak is often beneficial, even if there seems to be no real sign of aromas from the firing.  That first cup of red tea I drank from this prior to a soak, had so many flavors and aromas from the kiln it was rediculous, ( I had to dump it after one sip).

Its odd I would not consider myself a fan of orange, but this is not my first piece whose primary color is orange, they are oddly growing on me, and this Greenwood Studios piece is a nice piece to have.