JUDITH DUFF                    Wood Fired and Shino Pottery

Judith Duff Pottery   
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 Curator Statement



Soft Beauty of Traditional Shinos: Momoyama Era 

I am delighted to share with you this exciting exhibition entitled “Soft Beauty of Traditional Shinos: Momoyama Era”, an exhibition to honor the ancient Japanese tradition of Shino glazed pots.  From the beginning of my ceramics career, I have been fascinated with Shino glazes and their unpredictable nature.  During my first trip to Japan in 1999, I was introduced to “authentic” Japanese Shinos. Although beautiful and interesting, the glazes that the American potters call Shino bears little comparison to the soft natural beauty of traditional Japanese Shino. The characteristic surface of those Shinos is thick, white to orange, and semi-opaque over a porous clay body. Japanese traditional Shino glazes defy every rule, producing a wonderful variety of colors as well as unpredictable aesthetic effects such as crazing, pin holing, and crawling. This glaze conveys a rich sensual message through its tactile properties, which entices people to touch and use. 

Roots of this exhibition go back to the Momoyama era (1568-1603) when Japan’s first white glaze, Shino, was developed using the natural feldspar from the Seto-Mino area.  The Momoyama era was dominated by the tea ceremony. The most revered pottery pieces used in the tea ceremony, such as Mizusashis (water jars) and Chawans (tea bowls), were Shino glazed.  The tea masters prized the soft and relaxed forms that were developed during this period to compliment the thick, viscous glaze.  In the 20th century Akakawa Toyozo and Hajime Kato, potters from the Seto-Mino area, made significant discoveries in re-exploring the soft, white glaze.  Their findings began the resurgence in the use of the Shino glaze in Japan and, eventually, by potters around the world. 

In 2004 I received a grant from North Carolina Arts Council to duplicate the traditional Japanese Shino glaze using local materials. Mineral, chemical and particle size analyses were performed on Japanese clays and glazes from which I formulated my own mixtures. The main ingredient in Shino glaze, feldspar, came from local mines.  I pulverized raw feldspar in my homemade stamp mill to create the glazes I used. The project included building a Japanese Shino kiln that was fired for 100 hours and cooled for seven days before opening. There have been seven firings and the results have been remarkably similar to the traditional Japanese pots.   This has been a fascinating learning experience.  Not only have I become aware of the true character of this amazing glaze, it has put me in contact with many potters who share my enthusiasm.  

Each of the selected artists for this exhibition has a deep respect and understanding of the long history and time-honored tradition of authentic Japanese Shino pottery. Because of the many wonderful potters who work with traditional shino glazes, it was difficult to narrow the selection to fifteen.

The artists chosen come from all corners of the world and are individuals whom I respect for their integrity, sincerity, and talent.  Their work with traditional Shinos shows a passion and dedication for this ancient art that is vividly displayed by the pieces they have presented. The range of work demonstrates a diversity and individuality of styles and forms, while maintaining a strong connection with the traditional. Hopefully, you will share my excitement about the exhibit and will enjoy viewing the unique works of these talented artists.

Judith Duff, Curator

Artists whose work is in this exhibit:

John Dix Kobe City  Japan
Chuck Hines Iowa City, IA
Gary Hootman Swisher, IA
Lynne Johnson Courtney, BC
Randy Johnston River Falls, WI
Tateki Kawaguchi Seto-Mino Japan
Warren MacKenzie Stillwater, MN
Jan McKeechie-Johnston River Falls, WI
Ron Meyers Athens, GA
Shozo Michikawa Seto City  Japan
Hank Murrow Eugene, OR
Lester Richter New York, NY 
Owen Rye Boolarra  Australia
Akira Satake Swananoa, NC
Jeff Shapiro Accord, NY

Copyright © 2008 Judith T. Duff, All rights reserved