Art and Technique

Kyoto ware / Kiyomizu ware of diverse expression is created from various overlapping processes.

Kyoto ware / Kiyomizu ware of diverse expression is created from various overlapping processes. One of the most significant characteristics of the ware is that it is worked on by a number of craftsmen as it moves between different kilns. As each step is handled by an expert artisan, the resulting porcelain attains a higher level of accomplishment and refinement.

Using clay that has been throughly kneaded to obtain a uniform consistency, the basic shape of the ware is made. In most cases a potter’s wheel is used, but there are also instances in which the form is handmade, as it would be with Raku ware.

Cutting In
The formed pottery, after drying at a controlled temperature for several days, is pared down using a metal tool, creating a more precise form. The base of the ware, along with lines included in the design and other elements, are made using this subtractive process.

Underglaze Painting
The pottery is now fired once and adorned with the indigo pigment typical of Gosu porcelain, or with other decorations depending on the piece. As the handling of the ink brush is difficult and time intensive, a wealth of experience and a proficient technique are required, particularly for highly detailed designs.

Pre-fired or under-painted pieces of pottery are covered with a glaze one by one. There are an abundance of types of glazes: from simple, translucent glazes to those that display a variety of colors and textures. The expression of the glaze also varies in relation to the thickness of its application.

Overglaze Painting
Porcelain that has been fired after receiving a glaze becomes glossy, and may be further decorated using colored top glazes. Rich colors and delicate patterns are possible here, so the flowers and scenery of the four seasons and similar motifs are often gorgeously illustrated. This step demands a great deal of expressive power from the craftsman.

Firing requires the precise calibration of both time and temperature in response to the glaze that has been used and the desired appearance of the final piece. In the case that the porcelain has been decorated with gold or silver, the painting and firing steps must be repeated many times, requiring a great deal of time and labor.