Particularity, patience and passion - Kimata Kaoru talks about her commitment to creating unique Muji Karatsu pieces.
“The clay used for Muji Karatsu (unpatterned Karatsu ware) comes from the Karatsu area.
After it has been dug out of the mountain, the raw clay is firstly dried.
The clods are then beaten with a wooden hammer, pushed through a coarse
sieve and then mixed with water and left for about a year.
This process is called "hataki". The earthy character of the clay is retained by using the coarse sieve.
As Karatsu clay is sandy and dry it is difficult to throw on a potter's wheel and soon falls apart.
However, if let to sit for a long time, bacteria within the clay makes it stickier over time and easier to throw.
The time-consuming process is part of what dealing with Karatsu clay is all about.
The character of karatsu clay is defined by the sandy content.
The pieces are fired in a climbing kiln in Asago, Hyogo Prefecture.
The temperature in a climbing kiln rises very rapidly and as my items are fired at temperatures exceeding 1300
degrees celsius, it is an arduous task to keep the kiln stoked. Even though I wear thick, heat-resistant gloves,
the heat from the kiln when I open the stoke hole to put in extra logs is so fierce it hurts.
There are various kinds of Muji Karatsu but in general the term refers to items which are
made of Karatsu clay, thrown on a potter's wheel, dried, coated with feldspar (transparent glaze) and then fired.
The fine crazing is created by using the following technique:
Once the shape is formed on the potter's wheel, the surface is scraped and then coated with a slip of
mountain clay which I dug out myself in Shimane Prefecture. The cracks appear as the slip dries.
The piece is then fired unglazed and then fired again after having been coated with feldspar (transparent glaze).
About 20 years ago when I first started making pottery, the mountain clay used for the slip which creates the crazing
could be found in Karatsu. After a while it became difficult to source and I had to use my stock sparingly.
Ever since then I had been looking here and there for a similar kind of clay. When I heard by chance 3 years ago that
there was some to be had in Shimane Prefecture, I went there to dig some out for myself.
It took a lot of trial and error but 2 years ago I was able to produce pieces to my liking.
These pieces with delicate crazing are unique to me. I am the only person who makes them in this way and I therefore
consider them and my Kourai Guro items as my signature pieces. "