Friday, January 10, 2014

Musings on Ceramics Appreciation

I will preface this post with the fact that I will be both incredibly vague, and oddly specific, and I hope it comes across as intended.  While I have not acquired any new ceramics wares in quite some time, and I know quite a few of my recent posts have been posts on pieces I've made, and they've all mostly lost the novelty that I made them and it continuously sinks in exactly how bad they really are, and most of them are very bad.  I like to try and find the good in items, and usually in all items there is some good.   But before I get too far off base let me get to my main point.

To protect feelings of other tea drinkers and ceramics collectors, I will keep this as part as generic as possible.  I recently saw some items posted that were initially very eye catching, in fact they reminded me of an artists work that is a very well respected artist, and I was impressed. But as I was looking at the photo's, I said to myself, something doesn't seem right, and the artists name was not given (until later, and it was confirmed it was not the well respected artist it reminded me of), but I kept looking a the picture and while I could not handle the piece through a picture, I suddenly realized what was bugging me.  The piece while stunningly beautiful as a display piece, honestly seemed horribly unfinished as a useful piece of teaware.

Again while I could not handle the piece, so I had no clue how its weight was dispersed, and how it felt in the hand, but I did a little bit of thought experiment from the photos I saw, and realized the flaw that stood out to my eyes before I even realized it, was the lip of the piece was horribly unfinished.   It while perfectly glazed, looked horribly uncomfortable to drink from.   (Possibly a sore spot for me recently, as that seems to be a major point in which all of my own pieces fail, the weight distribution being an obvious other.)

Trying to be as humble in saying this as possible, so before I make the point of this post let me first say:  I am sure that there are still hundreds of points I could be taught about how to appreciate artisan ceramics if not more.  Though a good realization is:  Great work will always stand out, it is not that hard to see great and explain that it is great, the real hard part is to be able to look beyond an appealing appearance and actually dissect the 'intangibles' of the piece, and then be able to explain and put into words how the piece fails.

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.