Here is a man who boldly works on his own terms. With his own two hands he built his own compound, not just a house, but 4 buildings, one of which is purposed as a place to view the moon. It says something about Shiro that he spent the time and energy to build something dedicated to watching the moon and I dont know who wouldnt envy having one of their own.
As far as getting along in the art world, he does not enter any competitions and says that the critics can go to hell. Bravo! It’s not about pleasing the critics. With any type of work it is best to do the work for yourself first, to the best of your abilities, and then see what the world thinks.
It is unusual that he was not a Deshi (apprentice) under any Sensei (master) during the time he was learning. I myself felt cheated at a younger age when I learned of this system of learning. However I quickly learned that the entire world is full of masters at anything you care to learn about. Shiro became a potter at the age of 22 and had his first solo show by 30 which was hosted at his own residence. His knowledge traverses the range of styles that Japan is known for: Shigaraki, Iga, Shino, Kohiki (Beautiful Style), Ido, Oku-Korai, Kuro Oribe (Black Oribe) and Setoguro.
His black chawan in any style are very impressive and for one of his solo shows it was said that he made 500 teabowls in 3 months. In the documentary above he says that on a busy day he can throw 800 tea bowls or 1000 teacups. Because of the wide range of work he is producing, technical skill and probably in part due to his nonchalant demeanor, he has gained fame. There is more information on Mr. Tsujimura here at Artsy & E-Yakimono.
Here are some of his works.
(Special thanks to http://artsy.net for the use of these images. There are many more wonderful artists and works to view on their site)
Fail number 2, time to build different vessel with new clay. My kiln at cone 5 fires to cone 4 temp so logic says cone 6 should fire to cone 5 temp eh? Nope six on the dot. No worries though. I’ll make something even better 🙂
This clay, which I believe contains manganese, needs to not be over fired and needs a loooong bisque to burn off any gasses and other things that can cause bloating. Which I did. A 13 hour slow bisque to cone 05. But in the end it blistered anyways because of over firing.
On a beautiful rainy Saturday I find myself in a fantastic mood, accomplishing chores around the house and letting things flow as they want.
Today I’m making test tiles and planning more experiments based on the cone 6 accident where the white glaze over iron oxide ended up clear and giving a slight sheen and some tooth to the clay. I have a lot of tiles already but most of the early tests are not to my liking. I’m honing in on my color palate and once I get that down I can better create what it is that is “previsualized” in my head.
(On a side note I’ve been looking for some wooden stands for festival displays and found these for $5 at Family Dollar of all places. its meant as an over the sink shelf. Cant go wrong with that price)
Previsualization is the key to a lot of arts. Photography comes to mind and its where I learned to see the finished outcome before I made my adjustments and pressed the shutter. Ansel Adams was a master of that. What he had in his head he was able to bring out in the darkroom.
Here is how I make my test tiles. I roll out the clay suppporting the rolling pin between two yardsticks to get a consistent thickness. I then use the same yardstick as a guide to cut the strips and make them 3 inches long.
I line up the cut strips and mark them at 1 1/2″ at each end of the line. Then use the yardstick again to score a bit less than halfway through the group to give a place to bend it at around a 9o degree angle.
Then from the kitchen or wherever I get something that can give some scoring to the top of the tiles so that I can see how the glaze performs when it pools.
Also I am dipping a few of these into black slip as I am obsessed with the way some of the glazes turn out on a dark body. Yep I’m wearing gloves, this slip is messy!
Finished product drying. The slip covered tiles are not pretty but they’ll get the job done.
Next up I need to do a batch with my red clay. When they are dry I will bisque fire to cone 04. I will keep some of these without glaze and fire to cone 6 so that I can test a few glazes over the iron oxide and black slip. Cone 6 is vitrified so I expect that the tiles wont pick up much of the glaze at all but I might come into something interesting. If its interesting and repeatable I want to continue testing it 🙂
This is the “boring” part of ceramics. The tedious testing and logging but with the occasional surprise that makes you go “Hmmmm… what if I ….”. And also the test tiles that you hate may end up growing on you after a while. Or if not they might spark an idea for another avenue of experimentation.