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Shiboridashi tea pots: results

The shiboridashi generally came out well, here is one of them:

Since this one had a couple of bumps and screw-ups, one on the rim and one near the strainer, I took it into the house this morning to test out.

You can see this type of strainer pours a nice cup of tea. The tea leaves congregate near the mouth and are easily tapped out after use. A quick rinse, and it’s clean. No fraying metal screens poking your fingers and harboring nasties, and no spout side strainer hole cleaning nightmare.

After using it, my ideas for improving this design are:
1. Make the shape more tapered, less vertical, so it doesn’t need to be tipped so far to decant the liquid.
2. Put the hole in the lid closer to the center. When you swirl the tea around, liquid gets in the hole and stays there, preventing a smooth pour.
3. The knob should maybe be of a shape that allows the lid to stand freely on the knob, without the rim touching the table. (this might be more of a personal preference)

The awesome yunomi is by Maruta Munehiko, in some sort of amazing high iron clay with chunks of junk.  Kohiki slip under iron brushwork, very thin clear applied overall. Fired in his anagama. $140US, roughly, and worth every penny.

The tea is Daifuku Cha by Tokunaga Seicha in Ureshino, Saga Prefecture. The Tokunaga family makes some of the best tea in Japan, and they are wonderful people. Their website is:

I highly recommend all of their teas. Several of my overseas friends order from them regularly. They can handle English orders now via email, because their son returned from living abroad in England.

Water jars: Fired results

Unloaded the kiln this morning to the welcome sight of nicely fired pots. Most everything came through ok or better, with a few exceptions. Like I mentioned in the previous water jar post, I figured I’d lose about half in the firing. Turns out 4 of the 6 are keepers, a new record for me.
These were all fired on shells to keep the feet clean. They will be used with black lacquer-ware  lids.

Front view, interior, and foot detail of Chosen Karatsu Hitoeguchi Mizusashi

Front view, interior, and foot detail of Chosen Karatsu Hitoeguchi Mizusashi

Front view, interior, and foot detail of E-Madara Karatsu Hitoeguchi Mizusashi

I glazed a bit differently than usual, and fired a bit differently than usual too. Instead shutting down the kiln when cone 11 touched, I let the temp drop to around 1060C and re-lit the burners, and soaked at 1050C for one hour. This allowed the glazed to develop some crystals, making them a bit less glossy than usual. The ame glaze also developed deeper color. I’ll definitely be doing this again.

Slowing down the flame

Slowing down the flame in the first chamber will probably improve the next firing.  Today I started playing around a bit with a wall in front of the exit flues.  Old bricks from a kiln car  floor seem like they are perfect for this.

The reason for doing this is that during the first firing, the flame was moving through the kiln too quickly, with this wall I’m hoping to slow it down a bit, and break it up. In addition, to err on the side of caution, we made the exit flue volume quite a bit larger than the primary air. Now that I know there is more than enough draft via flues and chimney, experimentation can be begun to slow down the draft.

Building the wall in front of the flues, reducing the exit flue volume, and dampering the chimney will all be tried this next go around. Damper will be placed over the top of the chimney, so that reduced flow will not effect chimney temp and cause a reduction in pull.

I’m also thinking about eliminating the rear setting of shelves in lieu of tumble stacking in the back, with larger pieces. The two pair of stoke holes in that area will allow for good coal buildup on the front and rear of the ware area. Plus, setting those heavy shelves in that low narrow space is a real back breaker.

Water jar butts

Here are the bottoms of the mizusashi. Just little bumps of clay for the feet, something to get the vessel just a few millimeters off of the tatami. Makes them look like they are floating a bit. Also, if there are any major drips, that space is just enough to prevent one drip from irretrievably cementing the jar to the bisquit it gets fired on, or the shelf if I am short on big bisquits.

6 should be enough, since mizusashi are not exactly big sellers, or rather, the demographic of people who buy them is much smaller than, say, tea or coffee cups. If the firing goes well, I should be about to keep about 2 or maybe 3 of these.

  Detail of two types of feet and the wood figure impression from the bat.

 Detail of the clay, paddle marks. Sometimes the marks look a little overdone at this stage, but remember there is glaze going over this, so it gets smoothed out quite a bit.

Fresh water jars for Japanese tea ceremony

Started making some fresh water jars today, based on an old Karatsu Hitoeguchi Mizusashi (一重口水差). Hitoeguchi, or single level rim, don’t have a gallery for a lid, so they almost always are used with lacquer lids. This particular form is a very simple, almost straight sided cylinder with the rim folded over inward to create the lip.

The older piece as well as the new ones shown here, are ita-okoshi, or coiled up from a flat paddled base. After the walls reach the desired height by adding coils, the whole form is paddled to compress the clay, then the rim is finished last. These, still wet, are about 19cm/7.5in wide by 16cm/6.3in high, and weigh about 1200grams/2.6 lbs. The finished pieces will be about 18% smaller.

 rim detail, also showing interior texture from the paddle and anvil.

 Chosen Karatsu museum piece shown without lacquer lid.

Tea pots as an experiment

Threw some teapots yesterday as sort of an experiment. As a rule, I don’t like to make tea pots, what with the spouts, handles, lids, etc… They are a whole lot of parts to put together, and you can’t charge very much for them, and there are a lot of folks out there making them very well and/or exclusively. So, they’re not a smart thing to try to compete with around here.

But, every once in a while someone comes in and comments on the pot that I use for tea and asks if I will make them one. It is called a ‘shiboridashi’ or sometimes ‘karasukuchi’, I don’t know the origin of the names. It’s a very simple little pot with no spout or handle, and a very rudimentary strainer. The one I use happens to have a handle, but I see many without. Around Karatsu, one sees the handle-less ones with an attached mouth/lip, rather than the bent over lip. They are called ‘Houbin’

This is a small group of experimental tea pots to figure out what I like to make and use. Will make more groups with/without handles, with/without the attached lip, etc…. Hopefully will be able to settle on something that is attractive, practical, easy to make, and unique. I’m not picky.


 Strainer (not yet cleaned up, sorry). This will NOT be glazed, just the inside of the pot below the gallery will have glaze, and the strainer will be masked off.

 This is how the tea leaves the pot. Seems like not much, but it is enough, and very few stems and leaves make it into the cup. Then, VERY easy to clean up after the guests are gone. No hard to reach strainers, or spout-side strainer grime.

 Got busy with the new Spalthammer yesterday and finished splitting all of my beam cut offs.  I have about 5 cords of split and stacked wood now. What fun! (Except for the piece that fell down off the pile and nailed my little toe, right through my boots. Nice little purple toe now, though I thought I’d spare you the picture)