Saturday, July 16, 2011

Kanna Trimming Tool

Here is a photo of my newest trimming tool. It is a Japanese style trimming tool called a Kanna. This one is 8-inches long with a wooden handle.

The blade is just 3/4-inch steel strapping band that I cut with tin shears and then bent in a table vise. I used a Dremmel tool with a stone tip to shapen the edges. The two halves of the wooden handle are oak, which were glued to the metal blade and then stained and polished.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tea Bowl Profile

I really hate cutting pots in half but it does provide some good insight. My facebook buddy and tea bowl sensei Cory Lum asked me to post this picture so he could see how my carving/trimming skills are.

I was really really suprised that this bowl was thrown and trimmed so evenly. After I trimmed it with the new kanna that I made, I held the bowl in my hands and I just had a feeling that this bowl was "good." It just felt good.

I didn't have any bowls wet enough to cut in half with a cut off wire so I used a hack saw blade and gently cut the leather hard bowl in half. I was pleasantly suprised. In fact so much more I even sawed some more tea bowls. I think I'm at a point now, after examining the profiles of these bowls, that I will not have to saw any more in half.

A Different Foot

I kind of like this hand carved foot. Its different. Kind of reminds me of a sea shell, and its kind of interesting. Once I carved the circular line to the center, I used a kanna to recess the the center of the sea shell shape.

Foot #1

I used a kanna to trim the foot of this bowl and then used a serated metal rib to finish the interior or the foot. I like this type of foot.

Foot #2

My feet are getting better. Hand carved, smooth on the bottom and rough in the center.

Foot #3

I'm getting much faster at trimming my feet.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chawan Halved

This is the way my bowls start out. I asked my FaceBook friend Cory Lum to give me some pointers and critique my work and he gladly accepted my plea. Cory asked me to post a few photos and here they are. So, basically this is for Cory and to help him out check out his video of making and trimming a chawan as well as his etsy site.

Still Carving Kodai

I'm still working on carving the kodai. Like I said before, it either makes or breaks the piece. I carved this foot last Friday. Since then I have thown a bunch more chawan and have improved my carving. Will post more photos soon.

Hand Carved Kodai

Friday, July 08, 2011


I've been throwing tea bowls (chawan) lately. I've mentioned in earlier posts that its easy to throw a cylander that is round with a smooth even lip and a perfectly trimmed foot but in reality the pot or form itself has no character. Here is a link to some of my earlier thrown tea bowls. Yeah, they're nice wood fired pieces but I feel that the only interesting thing about them is the glaze.

This is one of my latest tea bowls. Initially wheel thrown and then altered. The base and foot were hand carved. This is much closer to what I would call a chawan. I think it has character. It pleasing to hold and interesting to look at. Plan on making a bunch more today.

The Kodai

The kodai, pronounced "koudai," is a very important part of the chawan and contains a wealth of information when looked at closely.

For instance the hand-carved foot reveals the skill and spirit of the potter. It also is the only unglazed spot on the piece that reveals the nature of the clay body. The only other thing I can say about the kodai is that it ultimately "Makes" or "Breaks" the piece. If its "bad" even an idiot will know it.

I'm still carving kodai and a lot of them look like shit as far as I'm concerned but I'm keeping the pieces to test some glazes on. The kodai pictured here is one of my better ones. I'll keep practicing.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


These are my latest tea bowls (chawan). I am quite pleased with this last batch. In the past all my tea bowls have been too "anal," according to other potters. I can throw bowls to a set dimension with perfect smooth interiors and exteriors but that is not a chawan. Plus, they really are uninteresting forms with no character. Throwing "loose," as other potters call it, has always been difficult for me. I don't know why. Thanks go out to my FaceBook friend Cory Lum who posted a video of how he throws chawan. It helped me a great deal. Now I just need to practice hand-carving the feet. They're not bad (maybe they are) but they still need some work.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Pinch Pot Fish

I got a little bored this weekend in the studio. And I remembered that I recently saw a YouTube video of some guy making a pinch pot fish. Just thought I'd give it a try. They don't take long to make and would be a great project for little kids. Actually, its a fun adult project too.

Didn't get my kiln moved into the studio yet but I did throw tea bowls on all three wheels that I made.