Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cracked pots

As a potter, I see in one year so many shreds that most people do not see in lifetime. One becomes hardened. If something is not worth of living, or have a flaw behind my tolerance, it easily ends on our ceramic cemetery. Teapots, cups or plates are landing from few meters with piercing brake...going back to the nature.

..on the other hand, many potters (and count me in) learn to appreciate beauty of cracked, warped, bubbled or even exploded ceramic pieces of . Being close to just opened kiln, you can hear "look! what a wonderful crack, it is like crag in the a wind" or "what a beauty-glaze running all around our kiln furniture"...ok, the truth is, that I am always happier with good, well functional pot then with a wonderfully cracked one. Especially when in 99,5% of cases, the cracked-bubbled-exploded pot means that I have done a mistake somewhere somehow.

Some pots crack when drying...
...some slip from my hands here and there during finishing and loading to bisque kiln...
...some do not survive glazing and
some the way from studio to woodkiln...
Of course, wood kiln separates the wheat from chaff in its own way...

 and then
some pots slips from my hands here and there when cleaning after firing...
some, and this is the saddest story, brake in  hands of mailman on their road to new home.

If you will see half-cracked or warped pots in potters kitchen then know- it is rather common. We do use unperfect pieces (not only, of course!). This way we can see, among others, how particular glaze-clay-shape combination works in daily routine.  There is few pieces of tea ware with which I am especially glad that they had to stay with me. They look so well-done that without "small" cracks through I would not probably have them by now. And I would not able to see them age. By using them on daily basis I learn a lot for my future work as well as enjoy the natural beauty of crackling.

This pot is with me for few years now. Unglazed inside, there was strong tension from thick shino glaze and thin body was already cracked when we open the kiln. By now it leaks a lot, but makes very fine oolongs so it is still in use...

I have three more pieces which cracked for the same reason as the pot above- the glaze was too strong and literally break the clay.

Bigger shiboridashi, used mostly for Japanese greens...

Smaller shibo, used almost daily now, for fresh shengs...

120ml teapot for roasted oolong...

Another kind of crack you can see on this bowl. It is known as "S" crack and it shows on pots during drying. We can blame for that whatever, but it lies between man and clay. I was not sure it I should throw this bowl away or put it into our kitchen shelves. Now I love it for drinking water and use it time to time for bowl tea. Crack on the bottom and the cobweb of fine cracks on glaze plays with my imagination and I like it.

And at the end, I would like to share with you Mirka's plate. She made serie of those for FOUZOO, a restaurant we work with. Those plates were glazed without bisque firing, which is quite tricky. One unpleasant thing which can happen is, that water from glaze will stress the clay to the poin, when the piece loose. I love to use this plate for my garden tea sessions. There is a lot of things going on there together with not being too loud for tea.

Cracks are not welcome, but sometime pretty inspiring. For sure they keep me on my toes.

Thank you for the reading!


  1. This last plate from Mirka is absolutely amazing ! I was thinking : give it a slight slope, for example by putting something under the upper side, a hole in a bottom corner to get rid of the water (to fix a tube or whatever) and it would make an incredible yet simple tea boat. I would buy that. ^^

    Great article. I have seen pots cemeteries in Tokoname, it was heartbreaking...

    1. Hi David,
      I will pass on your idea to Mirka. As I know her she will take it and one day we will see:)

      Tokoname pot cemeteries have to be something! We saw some bigger ones in Korea, It was incredible espacially around onggi workshops. One of them was just few meters from see shore and all broken pots end up there...

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  2. Petrov, you say:you don't like crack of all sort. I once met and read of this poet Franz Wright who did not like poets who were cracked or too wisen for their was so long ago that I may not remember it all correctly. Anyhow, you have something in common with this poet Franz Wright of Waltham, MA.