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Japanese Making Process
Our ceramic ranges are sourced from small, family-run kilns in Gifu and the rest of our product range from the length and breadth of Japan.
Japanese pottery formed in a particular locale is tied directly to its indigenous materials and resources, this not only includes the clay but also the colours that inspire the glaze and the form of the product.
We take pride in the fact that we have been in contact with many of these businesses for so long that we are now dealing with the sons of the fathers we first met. Many cups of tea, too much beer and sake, great food and lots of laughter make our job easy – we always look forward to our buying trips.
We aim to source timeless pieces and to develop new colours and styles in conjunction with makers to complement existing collections, not replace them. The new shapes, colours and patterns we add to our existing ranges are selected with durability and functionality in mind.
Although our long-held loyalties to suppliers and makers remain unchanged, we also seek out new, young makers and designers whose product we believe will complement and enhance our collections
A brief introduction into the manufacturing process of Japanese tableware
The base ingredient for Japanese ceramic tableware is, of course, clay. Within Gifu Prefecture on the main island of Honshu lies a huge clay basin. Since the 7th century, the craftspeople of this region have been fortunate to be able to access this resource and forge an industry that still thrives to this day.
In order to make the clay workable, industrial custom-made machines are used to knead the clay.
From there, the clay is used either on the potter’s wheel to form the base shape or injected into plaster moulds- which is necessary to produce shapes such as squares and eclipses.
For detailed pieces, such as teapots, separate parts are sculpted by hand. Any moulds are then removed carefully and the clay bodies are set aside to dry. Once the clay bodies are dry enough, an experienced craftsperson inspects the pieces and removes any unwanted imperfections or burrs.
If the clay body requires a motif or pattern, a skilled hand will either paint or carefully apply transfer-sheet (a thin piece of damp paper with pattern). After the clay body has been properly prepared, it is ready for the glazing process. Using tongs, the clay body is lowered into the designated glaze- ensuring an even coverage. Colour tones are created with various powder-dyes, developed and refined through past experimentation.
Specific kilns are often renowned for their skill in producing unique or signature glazes. The glazed bodies are then shelved and loaded onto a cart to be wheeled into a kiln where the final ‘firing’ process occurs. During firing, the kiln is heated slowly to the appropriate temperature and then just as slowly cooled again.
The aim of this process is to heat the objects to the point where the clay and glazes properly marry and ‘mature’, i.e. reach their optimal level of melting in order to set. Only after the kiln has been properly cooled can it be opened. The cart is then unloaded to reveal the finished pieces.
The pottery cycle itself is a microcosm of man-nature-culture. From digging clay to forming into wares, glazing and firing and distributing them. The flow of energy from stage to stage is akin to that ordered by the seasons for the farmer. This irreversible cycle is in its self a ground for a community, for it overpowers the individual will towards the common goal.