Tag Archives: karatsu

Kohiki tea cups, etc…

When Nishioka Koju passed a few years ago, a friend of a friend got some of the warehoused clay from one of Koju san’s storage areas. I was  able to get about 60kg of raw dry clay and have been waiting for the right opportunity to use it. I tested it a couple of years ago in the gas kiln and decided it needed wood to really make it jump. The clay itself is a light grey, almost white when dry, so I thought it might be fairly low in iron, but tests showed it to have significant iron and not very refractory. Probably good at around cone 6.

I made a run of about 40 cups yesterday and trimmed them this morning,  then waited for them to firm up a bit. Then, in the afternoon I applied the white slip (kohiki). This was something I have never done before on wet greenware. Last firing I tried it on dry greenware with success, but that clay was different and pretty stable for raw glazing. This clay is quite different so I didn’t know what to expect.  Many sources say to slip the inside, then let it dry, then slip the outside, to prevent the pot from collapsing. The problem with this is that you end up with too much slip around the lip of the pot, and more work is required to clean it off. I decided to apply to the whole piece at once, and did just one test piece to see what would happen. After 30 minutes the pot was still in one piece so I went ahead and did the whole group of 40.

I really like what the slip does on a wet pot. There is a lot more flow and variation in thickness, and I suspect better adhesion too. After the slip dries I will do some brush deco and give them a thin coat of clear.

At the end of the hump, there was enough left for a teabowl, so I threw one. It is intended to be a Todoya style Korean bowl, but we’ll have to see what happens in the firing. At least, this clay trims real nice. Unfortunately the bowl would not hang on to the trimming chuck, so that is the reason for the abrupt end on the interior of the ring. So as not to end up with nasty chuck rash, coupled with over trimmed foot syndrome, it got left as is. Usually trying to fix something like this just ends in disaster…

An odd experience

Coming home on Friday, I noticed I was behind a tanker truck which was polished stainless steel. The convex rear of the tank, coupled with the polished surface, made a very nice ‘fish eye lens’ type of mirror.
The odd part of it was: watching myself in the rear of that truck, I could see my car and all of the landscape around me rushing by, but it was as if I was watching me as someone else, or like watching myself in a movie, but in real time. It was kinda cool. I tried snapping some pictures with my phone camera, but they don’t really convey the experience.

Starting brush deco

Still working on making pots in between a sudden flurry of activities I hadn’t planned on. Isn’t that how it always works?  The pots from last week are all dry and ready to be glazed, so I’m in the middle of doing the underglaze deco on them. Hopefully I can finish that up and get them all glazed tomorrow. Then start loading the kiln with them to free up shelf space for more pots.

In the pictures today are some larger versions of the small ovals from last week. The top two ware boards are medium sized ovals thrown off of the hump. The lower shelf is ovals made from individual 2kg balls. The big round one was a 3kg ball, and is about 34cm in diameter. The decorated pots are the round dishes, and the shoe shaped (kutsugata) dishes. They will all be glazed while green and once fired.

Still trying to figure out how to draw a good bird, and had fun experimenting with the various brush strokes for making the wings and body. So many variations for all the body parts. Tried very hard to do all of the strokes as quickly as possible, to keep them looking fresh. Far from being skilled at this yet, but feel that I have taken a step or two in the right direction.

A Nice Belgian

I sat down this evening with my last bottle of St.Feuillien Tripel. I had been saving it for a special occasion and in this case it was finding a wonderful hand blown beer glass.

This last weekend was one of the kurabiraki (open to the public) of Amabuki Sake Brewery in Miyaki Cho, Fukuoka. They do it twice a year, once in fall and once in winter. They invite a line up of artists of various flavors and open the whole compound to guests. The old buildings are magnificent, with the main brewing building at the center of everything. It was restored a few years back and the original timbers are breathtaking. The roof beams of this huge building are pine beams almost two feet in diameter. You can sit on the wide natural wood planks of the second floor and look up to their red/brown patina as you knock back a nice cup of chilled sake. I took my camera all three days of the show, and all three days forgot to take pictures. Doh!

One of the artists this time was glass blower, Akiko Maeda, who makes really nice work. Simple, warm, and organic, much more appealing than the standard fare which I usually find to be cold and .. well.. ‘glassy’.
She was gracious enough to trade me two of her cups for two of my bowls, I think we each thought we got the better deal, so it worked out great.

The St. Feuillien was delicious, by the way….

Shelf space and more food dishes

With the wood kiln and trying to fill it, there is not nearly enough shelf space (or ware boards) in the studio. My neighbor has a small grove of bamboo up the hill, and gave me permission to cut down a few for building a ware board frame. Here in the pictures it is mostly finished, but still needs about 2 more tiers added higher up.

I moved most of the new pots out here, and it freed up all kinds of space in the studio, but there is still a shortage of ware boards. Cheap plywood is still about $10 per sheet, but it looks like I’ll have to bite the bullet and buy some soon.

The oval dishes are the next run of food dishes. They look really good with Chosen Karatsu glazing, and also with iron brush deco under a feldspar glaze. The clay is a new one I’m experimenting with, bought from a clay specialist, but after trimming these I don’t think I’ll use this again, at least unaltered. Wedging in some sand might perk things up a bit, but the basic clay body is pretty boring by itself. We’ll see, it might have really great color in the wood kiln and that makes up for a lot.

I had a lump of left over sandy clay that I wedged in near the end of the run. From the looks of some of the trimmed feet, I could have done a better job…

Quick Tables II

The other day I posted pics of  a low table I designed for easy breakdown/setup and transport. Here is the tall version of that table. It uses the parts from the low table, the low table top as the high stretcher and the low stretcher as the high table top. 60 x 90cm leg pieces were added from another sheet of plywood.

After assembling, the table is quite stable, though it does rock a bit because of the plywood thickness. In spite of the rocking, it is very hard to unbalance.