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!

Out of the fire and into the …

The bisque firing went as expected to Cone 04. The home processed clay from Lake Lanier was sifted through a window screen and retained some pretty course grog and stones. There was a single crack in the lip of the Chawan after the firing. I repaired it as best I could with some slip, let it dry.

The main firing to cone 6 went very well a few nights ago. I had several items of high value in this firing and spent the night getting up and checking the temperature and inserting the final plug in the kiln to slow the cooling once peak temperature had been reached.

I glazed my new style miniature bonsai pots in Shino and used a sponge to remove some of the glaze on the higher portions of the texture. The internal I left unglazed. My Mother and I did a quick project using one of the pots and created this beautiful little accent. I learned that this is the art of Kusamono or Shitakusa. You can find these pots and others on my Etsy Shop – https://www.etsy.com/shop/FireCrownPottery

Small ceramic bonsai pot with matching drip tray. Kusamono / Shitakus

 

The Chawan was glazed in clear. The inside was glazed very heavily to see how a thicker glaze application would take and to possibly seal the very porous body. I was very surprised, neigh stunned, to see what came out of the kiln once the temperature dropped and I was able to pull out the wares. The color had changed from its mars-like red to a dark brown with white speckles and an almost purple hue. You can see the contrast in the Kodai (or foot ring) below. An absolutely gorgeous gem! I have to work on the clay body as it is very porous but there is so much potential here and it is very exciting.

 

My Mothers sculpted piano is precious to hold and admire and I think we have an heirloom on our hands.

Miniature speckled stoneware piano sculpture. Glazed in clear.

Although the Chawan, made from the earth beneath my feet is exiting and bursting with potential, this is the one that I consider my finest piece so far. I call my pinch vessels my Ensō series. Like the Japanese concept of the Ensō each of the pinched Yunomi vessels I make are unique and singular in their existence. Each portrays the character of the creator and the context of its creation.

Made with white stoneware and glazed with Tenmoku which displays a beautiful variation of dark brown breaking to gold. It was created by hand over the course of about an hour. Each curve is subtle and graceful. It is the culmination of each pinch and motion of smoothing the inner and outer. It is a quiet mediation on creation in its simplest form. Shaping by hand. No tools involved.

Next post will be something that has been in the making for around 6 months. A wedding (and now baby!) gift for friends.

Finally!

Finally had some time and inspiration to get my hands into some clay. The Lake Lanier home processed clay feels awesome and is very groggy. When soaking wet it has some placticity to it but you can easily break it apart when working with it. There is so much iron that it stains your hands and makes a complete mess. I used gloves like I would when using iron oxide wash.  I first hand-shaped this chawan. Very bulky and heavy. It looked interesting enough and I paddled some texture into it.

I had a feeling about it though. I don’t know how the clay will fire, first off. So without knowing that I might as well go for broke. So I did some thinning of the bowl on the wheel and revealed the awesome texture just below the surface.

It looked so nice I had to use my new LED light panel to give it a good shot. It is still amazingly heavy for the size and shape. I can only hope that the bisque firing goes well and that cone 6 doesn’t turn it into a puddle.

I’ve made a few other things as well with my normal “Jackpot” clay body and they will go in with this to bisque.

Some newly designed miniature bonsai pots with matching drip trays.
A pinched lidded vessel
Of course my Mother’s first try with clay she made this beautiful piano. Its where I get my crafty from 🙂