Cooling Water for Green Tea

An important process for brewing green tea is cooling the water to the correct temperature. I was recently asked to create a samashi / chahai or cooling bowl.

In Korean this is called an ulshikim sabal

IMG_5735

This is a beautiful example, minimal and elegant and completely functional. I have some ideas and cant wait to get started. I think it is going to be pointless to create one vessel alone when they are to be used together in the process. I have a lot of work to do 🙂

Here is a fantastic video on brewing green tea using the Hohin and the Samashi. It is important to use the same material for both vessels.

I also found a very interesting article about oxidation firing versus reduction firing affecting the taste of the tea.

http://hojotea.com/en/posts-53/

On Establishing a Rhythm

Art takes rhythm. Ceramics is no exception and probably needs it moreso than the majority of other art forms. It is especially slow paced and the process from beginning to end to create a piece can be weeks to months depending on firing schedules. Not to mention that it can take years before you truly master your materials. Testing glazes alone will take me many months to complete.

The rhythm with ceramics tends to go at “life pace”. Most of us hold down full time jobs, have families and other obligations to attend to before working on our own projects. It seems that it falls into a slow seasonal rhythm spanning years and this is something that I do not mind.

Winter is spent mostly indoors for me so I tend to work on pinched vessels and things that I can do away from the wheel. Spring is a time for re-invigoration, cleaning the mental  clutter and getting back on the wheel. Summer is hot and with that comes the long days and trying to tighten up with routines. Fall is a magical time where I feel the most creative and bold. We’ll see how it goes over the years and how it gets more integrated with life until the goal of life being pottery and pottery being life comes about.

Here is a nice video on Establishing Rhythm with Dionne Swift. While not specifically a pottery video the core concepts span across mediums.

Establishing a Rhythm from R&A Collaborations on Vimeo.

Decoration and Calligraphy

Ok so this will be a short post but necessary for me to keep the ideas coming and stored away for future reference.

So in the past month I’ve learned more about ceramics and pottery through Ohi Toshio and Jay Benzel than in the past 2 years combined. Youtube and friends on Facebook are nice for ideas and can steer you in a general direction but there is no substitute for hands on watching an 11th generation master at work or working hands on with someone who has thrown over 100,000 pots in the past two decades or so.

I worked with Jay from Benzel Pottery yesterday and made a few Yunomi and some mugs. Very excited that my throwing skills are improving. I have shied away from the wheel so that I didn’t pick up any bad habits and just been doing pinched vessels and slab construction and just playing around with some ideas so that I can stay in it with the clay.

We did some basic decoration with porcelain slip and it got me thinking about Calligraphy and the pens and brushes that they use. Straight up and down with a calligraphy pen and you get a straight narrow line. Then side to side gives you a thick line. Now add in the variables of curls and motion and you get the graceful transformation of thick and thin. This is not the best example in the world but it demonstrates the point.

calligraphica

So I want to go and get some finger paints. ALWAYS back to the basics. Back to childhood where life was simple and direct and the true spirit of the creative desire lives without complication. Closer to the “source”. Which in my mind, means pure potential.

finger painting

So one finger can go in any direction leaving a single line, thicker or thinner. Introduce another finger and you have another dynamic to deal with how far the fingers are apart. Introduce a third and a fourth or a fifth and the variables grow considerably. Now, I’m not looking for “too much”. Never, ever too much. Always “just enough” is where I want to be. As much done as needs doing and no more.

This leads into a conversation with my wife about a collection of pottery being like an album. A cohesive whole. I completely understand that and I want to focus on a few standard shapes and designs of my own so that I can repeatedly throw them and have a cohesive collection. This in addition to experimentation of course.

This is something that you can never complete. You can never truly be done. In a conversation I had with Jay last night. “Why would you want to get into something you’d never finish?” A very hard question indeed and one that warrants its own post I guess. I’ll work on that sometime 😉