Shino: Abstract Elegance

July 19, 2013
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This year, during our trip to Japan, one of our goals was to find out about the Shino style of ceramic, an ancient technique that dates from the 16th century. We focused our research in the Mino region and it was in the small town of Mizunami that we went to meet Mr. Kawaguchi in his workshop.

An artisan potter for over 30 years, he makes his own clay with local raw material that comes from Toki. In fact the dense refractory clay of the region is of exceptional quality and highly appreciated by potters. He turns each of his bowls on a potter's wheel. The forms are usually large, cylindrical and asymmetrical, in keeping with the tradition of Shino. Once the  pieces are dry and glazed, it is the turn of the fire do its work.

The potter invited us to visit his Anagama  wood oven which he built himself. It is impressive to see with its imposing bulk and high chimney. When firing, which usually lasts a week, the oven temperature can rise up to 1300 C. Once the firing is finished, cooling of the pieces can take several days depending on the season.

So, it is at the completion of the process that

Mr. Kawaguchi finds the Shino pieces with the right characteristics. A thick glaze that reveals itself differently on each bowl, going from milky white to charcoal grey and towards vivid red-orange. You can also see small holes on the surface of the pieces, a quality that favoured by tea grand masters of the period and which they named yuzuhada or "lemon skin."

Shino pieces are the result of a long process and our meeting with the master potter has enabled us to understand the complexity of these works and appreciate their value. Imperfect forms, a trace of flame, a deposit of ash, slightly crackled glaze in which the tea tannins will settle over time ...

These pieces of unique firing have recently arrived in our stores, pass by and check them out!


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