I am very pleased to have recently acquired a teacup/unomi by the revered Japanese potter Shoji Hamada. A designated National treasure in his lifetime Hamada exerted an incalculable influence on studio pottery world wide over his long life. The understatement of this little teacup presents a daily challenge in my practice.
Yesterday was a beautiful day and a good day for getting pots into the garden for glazing. My techniques involve layering glazes and slips so the pots are getting repeatedly wetted and a good sunny drying day makes this work less taxing. As each dip dries back I can get on with the next one and it’s easier to keep track of what’s going on. Because glazes and slips are often difficult to recognise one from the other I usually resort to bits of paper to keep track of what’s going on. As the pot is dipped what lies underneath becomes invisible so it is easy to lose track. I use 3 slips a white, a dark iron and a white crackle. Some of these slips go onto the raw pot before the first biscuit firing. Others go on to the bisqued pot. The shino glaze is used in varying thicknesses and is often brushed or dipped several times. I have 2 shino glazes one a little darker than the other. I also use a wood ash glaze. I try to plan what I will do with each pot before I begin the glazing.
Shino can be very variable and it takes time to learn its moods but it is this very quality of shino that appeals to me. There is always the possibility of something unexpected happening in the kiln that makes each firing an adventure. I need that in my work to keep me interested.
There is a motto which was given to me long ago by a colleague which I have found to be very true ‘Shino first or you are cursed’ . Shino does not like to be put over another glaze. If you put shino over an ash glaze for example the fluid ash glaze will bubble through the stiff shino leaving a very unpleasant surface.