Of all the well-known Japanese ceramic artists of the past four hundred years, men like Raku ware’s Chojiro, the Kyoto designers and decorators Ninsei Nonomura and Kenzan Ogata, and the innovative and technically brilliant Kozan Makuzu, by far the most famous and influential has been the twentieth century folk craft (mingei) movement potter Shoji Hamada (1894-1978).
Significant cost savings can be realized by potters without access to a landfill through a variety of strategies and fuel choices. These can be divided into categories and discussed in terms of benefits and difficulties. Solid fuels are difficult, liquid fuels are moderate, and gases are easier.
Initially, I placed a 30-gallon plastic barrel outside one such diner that had agreed to save the used oil for me. My plan was to swap out the barrel every five weeks (the owner predicted it would take that long to fill the barrel) and replace it with an empty 30-gallon barrel. I learned two facts immediately: First, I couldn’t lift the full barrel of oil onto the back of my pick-up truck. Secondly, used, hot oil will melt plastic barrels.
Beautiful, soft, muted-color brushstrokes and washes of water-soluble metal salts decorate Gary Holt’s translucent porcelain bowls and plates. The simplicity and quiet presence of his works belie the years that Holt spent experimenting and perfecting his technique. Using water-soluble metals salts (WSMS) demands excellent technical skills and careful attention to details.
Barium carbonate has long been used as an ingredient in high-fire glazes, sometimes conferring unique properties upon glazes. One of the alkaline earth carbonates, it has also been used as rat poison (large doses can be toxic to humans as well). Glazes containing it ought to be checked for barium leaching if they are intended to hold food or drink, or reserved for surfaces that do not come into contact with food. It is not my intent to present the research on barium toxicity here, but to present a course of action for replacing it in glazes.
One of the more fascinating, sometimes frustrating parts of ceramics is learning to balance the innumerable factors that affect the outcome of a firing. Glaze ingredients, the clay body used, firing cycles, atmospheres, kiln-stacking techniques and geography (to name a few variables) can all affect firing results.
My studio is located behind my house in Saratoga Springs. Both structures were built in 1892, and the studio originally served as separate living quarters. It is a very bright south-facing building, but is a pretty small space, measuring about 500 square feet, so all of my firing is done off-site. During the summer I work both inside and outside, and in winter I finish some of my fired work in the basement of the main house.
Focus: Pots and Function
Several potters included in the 2009 Strictly Functional Pottery National discuss their pieces in the exhibition-from teapots to egg trays, from the kitchen to the living room, from concept to execution-and the qualities necessary to make those pieces successful. Function can mean different things to different people, and these potters all bring something insightful to the table.
I value the time it takes to throw each cup and the variation found in
each cup. The work hints more at a practice than a final object. Beyond
that, the cups need to hold liquid of some sort—preferably whiskey.
The addition of a lid or cover on a form adds additional complexity to
the making and the composition of both form and surface that I find
challenging. The covered form allows for play in scale of form and
surface treatments as well.