Beautiful, delicate pots
Time is flying and it's already several weeks since Keiko Matsui gave a wonderful demonstration at our Workshop (Saturday 16th February). Here is a review from our March Newsletter. Drawings & text by Ingrid Tristram.
Keiko Matsui’s demonstration of wheel thrown and hand altered pots was as delightful as it was informative. Our first demonstration for the year, it was booked out well in advance. Keiko, a new member to CCPS, introduced us to her deceptively simple techniques of throwing, altering and joining two pots, turning a bowl and decorating with oxide. In explanation to her method of cutting a ‘V’ shape into the clay and pressing the new edges together with exposed slurry, Keiko commented, she likes “the idea of an organic detail juxtaposed with a formal shape”.
Keiko works with Southern Ice Porcelain and Keane’s Porcelaineous Stoneware, which she used in our demonstration. Her favourite tools are the Mudtools’ blue, kidney-shaped sponge for pulling up clay, a long metal kidney for final shaping and sharp Tungsten Japanese turning tools. Keiko has found the Mudtools sponge holds enough water to work porcelain, and is fine enough to give a smooth surface. She prefers a measured pace when throwing, allowing better control of the clay.
The first of the two pots thrown was a squat vase shape. After putting this aside to dry, the second pot was thrown upside-down from a kilo of clay. This was a cylinder. From her training with Ivan Gluch, Keiko noted a kilo of clay, with a diameter of 11cm, should throw to 16 or 17 cm in height.
After reaching the final height, Keiko cut two ‘ V’ shapes about 4cm long from the rim of the cylinder and rejoined the edges with slurry, matching the diameter of the first vase-shaped pot. The altered cylinder was cut off two centimetres above the wheelhead because it did not need a base. When the two pots were dry enough, the first pot was returned to the cleaned wheelhead, scored and slurry added to the rim. The second pot was then inverted, scored and slurried on the ‘V tuck’ rim. The two pots were joined on the wheel using pieces of clay rather than a coil for reinforcement. Keiko continued to throw and refine the top of the cylinder until the pot was finished.
For our purposes Keiko used a blowtorch for fast drying. At home she allows her pots to dry a little, then uses a needle to mark the bottom of the pot before removing it with a wire from the wheelhead. Rather than using pieces of clay to fix her pieces for turning, Keiko uses circles of foam sponge (approx. 15mm thick) under her pots, an especially good technique for pots with irregular rims. Layers of two or three sponge batts can accommodate very irregular rims.
Keiko works with two glazes, a clear gloss and a matt white. She decorates using a brush with long bristles that hold a good amount of oxide. She demonstrated decorating with iron oxide, starting from the inside before continuing the lines over the rim to the outside. “Just let your hand go free”, she suggested, and “do not think too much”. Keiko prefers using cobalt oxide and always decorates on top of her glaze. We left with lots of ideas to try out which after all is the test of a good demonstration.
Thank you Keiko.
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