Wednesday, February 22, 2012

TOBE YAKI (砥部焼き)-Ceramics of Ehime Prefecture

Tobeyaki is the pottery of Ehime Prefecture. It is usually a white porcelain with indigo blue arabesque design.  It oft times has a bit of red incorporated in the design as well. It was founded in 1777. There are over 90 kilns in the Tobe area.
Old Tobe Yaki is much different than what is produced today. They used to produce Tokkuri, some rather rough, others of the sometsuke variety. Some of the sometsuke are often confused with similar products made in Imari. 
The wares of the Taisho period were often made with patterned stencils. Tobe wares dwindled in the early Showa period, but were revitalized in 1953. Although Tobe ware usually is recognized by the thick arabesque designs, they also produce other styles. 
Some common attributes of Tobe ware is the thickness, rounded rims, simplicity of design and the thick brush arabesque motifs. Tobe ware is noted for its ability to showcase food through it's simplicity. Modern Tobe ware also includes a patchwork style. 
(Notes taken from an NHK World presentation on Tobe ware). 

This was made at least 30 years ago.  There is no artist mark.

Tobe Shuzan

Probably Kenzan-gama MARK

   This this is the Baizan Gama MARK

I recently found out about a less known Tobe ware. It has a carved out design, a 3D relief on the side.  It appears that there was a time when this style was popular in various regions of Japan. I will keep my eye out to try to find a piece to share.

Tobe Yaki Namiroku Gama 砥部焼 波六窯

A helpful link in Japanese for the Tobe Kilns:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pottery Paradise.....a trip to Arita, Karatsu and Okayama

I just got back from a trip to Kyushu with my husband, where we were able to visit some kilns and shops in Arita and Karatsu. On our return we were able to make a stop in Okayama to see some Bizen ware as well.  We had the luck to meet and talk with an American Bizen artist, John Thomas Wells, who has made his home in the mountains of Bizen now for over 30 years.  We were able to see some of his work in the Takashimaya Department store exhibit, just as they were packing it all up! John was kind enough to let us in to see some of his works and to talk with us for a while.  We really appreciated the opportunity! 
After visiting kilns and seeing the process of making these beautiful wares I gained a greater appreciation for their value. I will be incorporating the information I obtained on this trip into each respective category along with some other samples and marks.

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