30 Years Ago

I remember a ceramics class, back when schools had funding and felt an importance to preserve the arts rather than focus on standardized testing. I didn’t get bitten by the pottery bug back then but it sure must have planted a seed, that lay dormant for around 30 years. This pot has laid dormant as well, in the back of a cupboard, until it was recently found by my mother. I don’t think I actually remember making this one although I can drum up some memories from the class. It’s funny though, I was making kodai (foot) on my bowls since the very beginning. I found the same in photography. Looking back through my oldest images. The style was already there, small, simple and unadorned.

I think we all enjoy reminiscing and having a wash of nostalgia every now and again. The thing that I like about this pot is that I didn’t “care” too much, I just made it. You can clearly see my fingerprints. A pinched pot with a foot that I was able to see again after so long.

Third Iteration

So I’m in the middle of doing the third iteration of my Kusamono / Shitakusa vessels and they are coming along nicely. I love love love this clay. Its very porous and I think that it would be good for the plantings in such a small place to be able to get enough oxygen to the roots. This is the advantage of terracotta, not only is it cheaply produced and low fired but it is porous as well. We’ll have to keep in mind that the plants that are paired with these pots may need to be watered more than something that is in a plastic or fully vitrified pot. I’ll have to prove this out but it seems that if the roots can get more oxygen then they will flourish for longer.

Keeping the pots from cracking by wrapping them to carve the hard clay.
First two done!
All 8 carved. Got a bit fancy with some texturing on a few.

I have been getting heavily into Kusamono since I learned the term from my friend Chuck. This is something that I’ve never seen before. Mushroom cultivation for Kusamono! It seems to be a high investment in effort and time for a small payoff but for originality I give it two thumbs up. If you care to dive into the way other mushrooms are grown the success rate is a bit higher and the technique should translate very well to the more decorative mushrooms such as the beautiful Amanita Muscaria which reminds me of Christmas.

There is an excellent article dealing with creating Mushroom Kusamono that I found – http://ofbonsai.org/species-specific/accent-plantings/simplified-cultivation-of-mushrooms-for-accents-and-kusamono – Just beautiful!

Iron Oxide and Kodai / Feet

So I am getting better at carving my feet and they are looking good. However when handling I realized that I had made a “mistake”. The edges are sharp and do not feel good in the hand. I’m getting the form the way I want but I think I just need to tweak it a bit.


Another realization that I had is that the types of modifications you make to your work are sometimes born out of the way you work. Little mistakes can begin to form new pathways to other places. The direction you lean to observe the profile of the vessel makes a difference in the way you may approach what you think the completed piece will be. The amount and types of tools you use… What you had for breakfast… My pieces are minimal and will always be very minimal. I am finding that minimalism in my workflow as well I only need 5 tools:

  1. Throwing stick
  2. Small metal rib
  3. Chamois
  4. Cutting wire
  5. Small carving tool

Here is my latest foot carving which is deeper and more rounded and feels a lot better in the hand.

better kodai

I got a bag of iron oxide from my supplier and did some experiments with this. This is a brushed heavy coat.


This is a light application via a spray bottle. I think the key is not to let any of the liquid “gather”. You can see on the rear or the bowl that it creates an interesting watermark but that inst quite what I was going for at the time. I think it might have potential as an accent type of modifier on rims and such. The next firing I do I will glaze over the iron oxide to see how it reacts. Also will spray directly onto the glaze to see if the application on top makes a difference in the end result.