Saturday, September 4, 2010

Japanese-Inspired Glazes

Several glazes in the MCG studio are inspired by traditional Japanese glazes. The first and foremost is our Gold Shino, which is an Americanized version of the traditional Shino glazes from Japan.

Shino is traditionally a white glaze with red-brown flashing. It's said that it was first developed in response to the Japanese tea master Shino Soushin's request for a white glaze in the 1500's. Since then, many varieties have developed, including the carbon trap varieties that are so popular with American potters.

Temmoku, or Tenmoku, is an iron-rich glaze that originated in China. A Zen Buddhist monk was visiting China from Japan and fell in love with the dark brown tea bowls being used at a temple on Tianmu Mountain. It is said that in the 13th century, when he brought the bowl back to Japan, he didn't know what to call the glaze. So it was referred to by the name of the mountain where it came from.

Deb's Red is another iron-rich glaze in our studio which is inspired by the Japanese classics kaki and tessha, which are very similar. According to The Potter's Dictionary, "If the rust-coloured parts spread over more of the glaze causing rust patches, it would be called tessha and if the rust covered most of the surface it would be a kaki glaze."

Celadon is another Chinese glaze adopted by the Japanese (and mastered by the Koreans, as well). Celadon is typically pale green, obtaining its color from the iron oxide in the glaze (though it has much less than Tenmoku). Celadon is not an easy glaze to use, because it will be quite drab colored unless a special condition is achieved in the kiln, referred to as reduction.

The glaze named Oribe comes from the style of pottery made popular by the teamaster and warrior Furuta Oribe (who was a student of Sen no Rikyu). Oribe pottery is characterized by a dark green translucent glaze that derives its color from copper. Oribe wear often features brushwork, including designs painted in iron oxide, and incorporates clear glaze as well as the aforementioned green.

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