Ripe teabowls

Still making work to go in the upcoming firing of the kiln, and tried making some “Komogai” style bowls. Komogai are originally Korean bowls, like Ido, and were emulated later by Japanese potters in Karatsu, Hagi, and probably other areas as well. Below is one komogai gata bowl with feldspar glaze, and one other which is close to komogai in shape, with a rice straw ash glaze. The latter’s name is Hakucho, and it is my favorite Karatsu bowl. It is made of a very sandy clay body, similar, I suspect to Sakamoto san’s clay body (explained below).

I’ve always found these bowls to be very difficult to make, but after today am slightly nearer to understanding them. When one comes out looking right, it is usually still just luck. I discovered today that the best ones look very full bellied, or ripe (this word makes sense to me for some reason).

Just in case you are wondering, I wasn’t trying to make them all the same size. My goal was to work on proportion and shape. When I understand the shape better, I’ll start aiming for more uniform sizing.

The small guinomi, plates, and two komogai at the mid-left were made with clay that I saved from the hole when digging the kiln foundation. It has turned out to be quite nice. I wedged quite a bit of sand into it, to temper it a bit as it is prone to bloat at high temps. The rest of the komogai bowls were made from a fairly refractory very sandy body that I got from Sakamoto san in Sari, Saga. Sakamoto san is one local clay guru who makes clay bodies suited to making Karatsu ware, and all of his clay is made for wood firing. It is nice stuff, but you have to be careful what glazes to use and what temps to fire at.

Two in this row are not komogai shapes, they unintentionally ended up too wide or tall, so I decided to forgo the out-turned lip.

One of the things I’ve been working on is getting work off the wheel that doesn’t require much trimming at all. My mentor, Tsuruta san, can trim boards of bowls and not have much in the way of trimmings in the catch pan. I, on the other hand, have enough to wedge up and make more bowls, which probably means too many trimmings.

This is one of the bowls made from kiln hole clay, it held together nicely despite being stretched wide, though you can see it started to come apart. When making some more open forms, like plates, this clay tended to split and fall apart (two plates out of 10) about 20 minutes after being set out to dry.

Teabowls will become more prominent on this blog in the upcoming months, because the theme for Workshop in Taku, Spring 2012 will be teabowls. More specifically, the making and use of teabowls in Japanese tea ceremony. Official announcement with dates and guest artists/presenters is coming soon.

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5 thoughts on “Ripe teabowls”

  1. I had no idea that your blog was so filled with information and your pictures help me understand your work. Thank you! A-P.

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