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)