Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Katana - Japanese swords

I love katana, but I have probably watched too many ninja and samurai movies! I've watched documentaries and read articles out of curiosity, and gained a great respect for the workmanship and skill in wielding and making them. Every stage is thought out and given every attention, from smelting the black iron sand with oak wood and sorting the pieces into soft and hard, to polishing the blade. 

The resulting sword is then so light and sharp it can slice through bullets and ice! Unlike European broadswords, they rely on skill and speed instead of brute force to be successfully wielded. Aside from that, I also love the fighting style that goes with the blades, and the long sweeping curve along the length of the sword which trace dance like patterns through the air when it is swung. I use similar curves and length in my teapot handles


This is the latest teapot I've been working on. It's another square bodied piece, working on the size and capacity from my previous one, and developing the imagery on the side. I've added screen print under the slip trailing to imitate the effects you get in modern Japanese printed media, especially manga, and this time I did a peony, plum blossoms and pine as it's winter right now ^.^
I'm not yet sure that the pine comes out too well yet though, I'm going to wait until I've glazed the piece to see whether the needles make it too busy for the imagery to be clear and stand out. This is the tallest handle I've created to date, and I'm a bit concerned about how much it will warp in the kiln. I'm hoping to use a new firing program to limit how much it will move in the kiln - I will hold it at top temperature for maybe only three minutes, and soak it for a long period of time at a lower temperature to allow the glaze to develop properly, so that nothing will be liquid/hot enough to run for very long. Anyway, you can see the height and gentle curve of the arching handle here, which has developed over time kind of subconsciously. It's a reaction to many things, Mel Brown's teapots (shown on the right), Japanese architecture and blades, and the way I naturally interact with the clay - I generally pull long lengths of clay before I'm happy with the shape and thickness down the length.

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