ABOUT BIZEN WARE
A way of making Bizen ware
Molding is mainly on an electric potter’s wheel, but some use hand potter’s wheels and others mold it by hand without using the potter’s wheels. In addition, others shape the clay strings and repeat by one step string ” Himo-zukuri”, to mold on a board form and standing it upright “Tatara-zukuri”.
When a work is completed, a ceramic stamp(signature) is put on the bottom of the work. On an aside, as for this ceramic stamp, it recalls the old days when potters put a ceramic stamp to distinguish one’s work in the furnace filled with many other’s work together in a join kiln.
The completed work is dried naturally and slowly in the shade to prevent transformation.
It is laid in the kiln when dried enough.
The setting of pottery in a kiln is a very important process and it influences the quality of unglazed Bizen ceramics. Therefore, we take care in the burning of firewood, even the streaming of flames, and analyze the shapes, and set the best-fired ceramics apart.
Kiln filling is nervous work for ceramist to put in lay, attach and cover works it. The way the ash scatters is also important. The ascending kiln arrangement takes one week to fire more than 1000 pottery pieces of various sizes.
It is a big event for a ceramist to fire in a kiln 1-2 times in a year.
The ascending kiln arrangement takes one week to fire more than 1000 pottery pieces of various sizes. The general ascending kiln fires with a maximum temperature at 1250 degrees Celsius around
the clock for 10-14 days.
The clay or soil of Bizen ware is much more combustible than other pottery clays, so we take extra care while firing. We consider the flame streams, the fallen ash and the air volume.
The firing in the kiln presents us with various colors and patterns.
Every kiln setting affects the feel of the product as well. We use Okayama firewood from Akamatsu. Bizen’s clay and soil contain high levels of iron so the oil-rich Akamatsu firewood is used to produce strong flames. One firing takes 20-30 truckloads of firewood(Cost JPY 100,000).
There are various kilns:ascending kiln, hole type kiln, electric kiln, gas kiln,etc. Each has a unique use and application.
It is a most tense moment for ceramists to when removing pots from the kiln, they feel uneasiness mixed with expectation.
A work breaks when suddenly cooled, so at first they gradually cool it for approximately one week, without opening the kiln door.
Next they check the results of work by work, sand it with the ash and finish it.