Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Horsehair Teabowl

This Teabowl was made from a heavily grogged white stoneware clay body and bisque fired to approximately 1600 degrees.
Once bisqued the bowl was placed on a banding wheel and a coating of liquid wax was applied to the exterior. This was done so a neat glaze line at the rim could be easily achieved. The interior and rim were then glazed with Ferguson's Turquoise Raku Glaze.
The teabowl was then fired in a fiber-lined raku kiln until glowing hot and the glaze was liquid-glassy, approximately 1900 degrees.
At this time the teabowl was removed from the kiln and individual strands of horsehair were applied to the exterior of the surface. The hair imediately begins to burn and shrivels up resulting in a small deposit of smoke and carbon, leaving a permanent trace of the horsehair.
The ashes are washed off once the piece is cool and when the bowl is completely dry the exterior is polished with paste wax and buffed to a soft satin luster finish.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Hand Carved Chawan

Chawan? Whats a Chawan? Well, by simple definition, for many western potters, it is Japanese for teabowl. But, I think Chawan has a much deeper meaning.

I know very little of the Japanese Tea Ceremony but Chawan were treasured by the ancient Tea Masters. Even today the Chawan is a special and treasured breed of ware. Pictured in this post is what I call my first hand carved Chawan. It was Raku fired in my crude, brick , raku wood kiln.

Aoyama Wahei wrote in Japanese Ceramics Now that "a Chawan has certain rules that must be kept in order for the bowl to be classified as a chawan. For example, many advocates of tea, along with potters themselves, claim that the chawan must have a balance between several elements, such as height, width, depth, lip, body, and foot-ring. A lack of these elements will make the bowl either a plate or a mutli-purpose bowl, but not a tool that is appropriate for drinking frothy green tea in the tea ceremony."

Furthermore a good chawan should reveal a strength and spontaneity of the potter who created the bowl and should be interesting when viewed from all angles. Even the foot-ring will reveal the skill and state of mind of the potter who carved the bowl.

I don't have enough knowledge yet, or the space, to continue my rant about what a chawan is, or go into the significance of the chawan and the Japanese Tea Ceremony, but I can safely say that a chawan isn't your grandma's tea cup.

The Footring

On Chawan the foot of the bowl (Kodai, pronounced "koudai") receives a lot of attention and importance to not only the potter, but the collector or tea drinker as well.

First of all the footring is usually the only place that the claybody of the bowl can be viewed. A lot can be revealed by studying the the clay, in some cases where the clay actually came from. It also is a nice contrast to the smooth glazed surface.

A good footring should balance the bowl not only when placed down, but in the hands as well--it shouldn't be too small or too large for the chawan. And, the footring reveals much, if just studied. Turn the chawan over. Look at the foot. It should be spontaneous but also have the skill and confidence of the potter who created the bowl.

Friday, September 01, 2006

John's First Bowl

John's first bowl, Raku and Wood Fired. Yahoo!

I gave John an 8-pound brick of clay, a carving tool, a couple of wooden trim tools, a wooden rib, and told him to "go at it." I suppose I should have given him some guidance or at least explained to him how to use the tools, but everything worked out.

I also gave him a hard time about not helping with the wood splitting but I take that back, as John did more than his fair share of stoking the kiln in the hot afternoon sun. Next time we fire at night.

Congratulations John!