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Chawans: Iterating on Traditional Forms

Published onMay 28, 2020
Chawans: Iterating on Traditional Forms


Tea ceremony in Japan comprises a centuries-old tradition of hospitality and ritual. The objects required to perform this custom thus have an incredibly old aesthetic history, and provide a sophisticated challenge for any craftsmen at the pottery wheel. These teabowls, or chawans, are experiments and additions to this history, thrown off-the-hump and covered with homemade, traditional glazes. The lighter and more reflective of these is a nuka glaze, often made almost entirely from the ash of burnt rice hulls. The slightly more matte and eccentric white is a shino glaze, traditionally comprised of a high percentage of feldspar and some straw ash.

In some cases, iron oxide has been used as a decorative element, providing another opportunity to enhance the form of the piece.

Every attempt has been made to keep the materials for these glazes within their traditional bounds, but some compromises have been made to fire the pieces in an electric, oxidized environment. The result is an investigation and translation of traditional forms and materials to a contemporary environment in the American Northeast.


December 2018

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