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Tōkaiseki Sake Bottle, 2021
Nearing the end of his apprenticeship Matsuzaki asked Shimaoka if he would consider extending it for another 2 years, whilst he learned to develop his own style, and began creating his own motifs and palette of glazes that he would use for the next 15 years. Today, Matsuzaki has exhibited widely in Japan, America and the UK and his work is held in major galleries worldwide.
Sake, along with the rice it is made from, sits at the very heart of Japanese culture. Sake bottles, or Tokkuri, were traditionally made to hold 180 ml, or a tenth of a huge 1800 ml bottle, although they now come in various sizes.
‘No blossoms and no moon
And he is drinking sake all alone’
- Haiku by Matsuo Bashō
A love of nature, and of being part of the group, are intensely important to the Japanese, so this little haiku is a picture of sadness. Sake is meant to be drunk with others and pouring for each other is part of the ritual. When your companion’s cup is empty you refill it, and they do the same for you (using both hands to lift your cup). So, the smaller the cup, the more often you have to pour for each other, which creates more interaction, and engenders conviviality.
Excerpt from an essay on Sake by Shirley Booth, president of the British Sake Association
Tōkaiseki is a technique of Matsuzaki’s own invention, these sculptural works are not thrown but hewn, carved and torn from hollowed blocks of clay on a potter’s wheel using a variety of tools – from knives and wooden scrapers to wire, fingers, thumbs and even fistfuls of clay itself. Developed over many years, these forms now represent a distillation of Matsuzaki’s enigmatic, tour-de-force approach to his medium.
Yohen, which translates as changed by the fire/flame or kiln change, refers to changes that happen in the kiln during firing, causing the glaze to run. The build up of ash on the floor of the kiln and the natural glazing process that occurs because of it result in Yohen pots in deep browns, blues & reds.
Shino glazes were first developed in Japan during the mid-1500s. They are distinguished by their large feldspar content, minerals that lower the melting point of the glaze mixture and help bond its distinct elements. They generally range from milky whites and pinks to deep reds, oranges and greys depending on their makeup, the clay body they are applied to and and firing and can vary hugely in appearance from potter to potter.
Sebastian Blackie explains more about Matsuzaki's shino glazes here:
Shino is a glaze made almost entirely from the feldspar family of minerals. When they melt they form a liquid of high viscosity that continues to move with great sluggishness at much higher temperatures. Feldspars that are alkaline and low in silica typically produce a thick white glaze breaking to pink or red in the presence of iron oxide. Matsuzaki brilliantly combines layers of different feldspars which interact in firing, forming eutectics (a mix of two materials that melt at a lower temperature than either alone) at their interface, causing the materials to slide over one another to produce glaze effects of great drama and movement. White Shinos on iron-bearing clay bodies will slowly darken as they absorb the oxide. This glaze quality is rarely seen outside Japan. It is the result of seven day-long firings at relatively low stoneware temperatures; a legacy of the inefficient (in Western terms) Anagama kilns in which Shino glazes were first fired. This quality is the product of long firings but also the embodiment of a ritual where the potter is physically and emotionally stretched in the process of giving some permanence to his work.
Accompanied by a signed, made to measure box.
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