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Richard Kilgore

Let's See Your Teaware!

175 posts in this topic

I'm refusing to imagine not hot tea. I think it will just have to be less tea and more water as it gets hot enough to be uncomfortable without AC.

A few better shots of the 'seafoam' yunomi pictured a few posts ago, in a not very flattering phone shot. It's already getting 'broken in' with the glaze crackles now emphasized by the stain of the tea

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It looks good with tea in it too

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and when you get to the bottom of your cup, you get this little detail to brighten up a sad situation (the empty cup is a little sad, when the tea was good)

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This one is like seafoam--white with bits of blue breaking through

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I am very happy with my sweet little tokoname kyusu but for one thing: the rim curls back in on itself sufficiently that there is a little rim that catches a few drops of water when it is turned over to drain after use--usually it is left in the dish drainer overnight. By the next morning, when I flip it over to use it again, some water drips down from the inner rim.

How worried should I be about this leading to mold or other distasteful stuff? Is this a situation where any of you would occasionally dunk the whole pot in boiling water, or set it in the oven to heat through from time to time, or should I just ignore it?

The pot sees water at something between 150 and 180 degrees F nearly every day.

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Do you store your teapot out, or in a dark cupboard? If you're worried, I'd keep it in a well-lit place. Things in my kitchen grow mold when they're left in the cupboard, but are otherwise fine when left out. If it's clean, with no oil or food related detritus on it, it should be okay.

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On days when I don't immediately reuse it, it goes into a cupboard, but mostly it ends up in the dish drainer, upside down.

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I leave mine out in the open, right side up, with the lid off for 24 hours before putting the lid back on. I do shake a pot upside down before putting it out to dry. Have never had mold.

I know some people leave them upside down and like the results, but my guess is that this can trap moisture, rather than allowing it to evaporate. A cupboard may also block the air flow.

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A new teapot, a Chao Zhou sandy red clay pot from Tea Habitat:

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Nominal capacity was 60mL, but actually it holds 80mL by my tests.

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A new teacup from Michael Coffee:

as usual with a nice ceramic piece, it's quite a technical challenge to capture the sparkle of the metallic glaze....

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I think that's likely, as he definitely uses those types of glazes, but he didn't say explicitly which glazes were used for this group of cups.

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Pretty as it is, I think the most lovely thing about it will be how perfectly it matches the size of my regular little gaiwans. It will be wonderful for gongfu sessions with them.

The stand is growing on my every time I look at it--it too has a delicate subtle sparkle and shine--but the roughness of the feet will not be nice on my plastic countertops or laminate top desk. How would you handle that--fabric or bamboo coaster underneath it? Little felt stick-on pads on the feet just would seem so....wrong.

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Today, while we were settling in for a nap, there was a knock at the door, and a postman delivered my express package....tried to get back to the nap, intending to open it later, but couldn't wait. Miss Emily supervised at every step as we unwrapped the two yunomi:

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The box passes muster, ok for the next step

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You may proceed to the next step

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pat, pat, pat.....feels ok, smells ok....

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I approve this one too!

More and better pics later. They're gorgeous, but a little larger than I'd hoped--too large for a gaiwan's worth of tea (it appears they can hold four or more of my little ones' worth), but very nice for one of the larger teapots, and for sharing tea when I have visitors. Now I don't have to feel like I'm stinting on them by offering a very generic mug or worse, styrofoam cup!

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As promised, more and better pics...

Today, I took out my Seigan hagi and started shooting. It was hard to stop, as they are so amazing, closer and closer with the camera, playing with flash, window light, and filtered sunlight.

Eventually I ended up with two sets of images on my flickr, one for the Seigan blue and one for the Sansai terbineri.

The Seigan blue is very dramatic

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and the glaze has translucency in areas almost as ethereal as the 'Spirit' cups

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and I'm just a sucker for swirly gorgeous variegated colors

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and the clay foot just feels powerful with the embedded larger gravels

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The Sansai is more subtle

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with different moods on different sides

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A vast white interior, with abundant crackles

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Clay peeking through at the rim

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And again, that very powerful-looking clay at the foot

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Some recent teaware acquisitions starting with the tiniest yixing ever....

The newest, tiniest member of the household....first, trying to give a sense of scale--how tiny it is:

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It matched sizes beautifully with the tiny green cup from a scent cup set.

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Tiny teapot by debunix, on Flickr

I admit I bought it mostly as a novelty, but while it is so tiny that it's a bit awkward, the tea brewed in it (an aged puerh sample from Essence of Tea) was delicious. It's from Dragon Tea House on Ebay. While I was there, I also bought a very small gaiwan:

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This is about the same size as some that I got as part of 'travel' sets, but more practical for routine use because it has a saucer that fits it snugly and helps me avoid burnt fingers.

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This week I received two orders of teawares--I think my sales resistance was down after the first order!

I have been looking for an especially fine handmade kyusu with more personality than my Tokoname pots for more than a year, and this one by Petr Novak spoke to me:

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Beautiful inside and out

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And for the first time, I did a comparative tasting of plain hot water in several of my teapots, to see whether there was any effect of the clay on the water in the absence of tea. I was pleased to note some slight sweetening of the water from this pot's iron-rich clay.

I also ordered some cups and a pitcher (a ridiculous number of additional photos of all of these pieces, and links to more info about the artist, are here on my flickr)

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And shortly after I ordered those, I saw the first really small pots by another artist whose work I'd been admiring, and I picked this bouncy little pot (holds just 60mL), which has a little more neutral impact on the water, and already seems perfect for green oolongs.

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Even being so tiny, it still has nice details

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A few more pictures and links to more info about the artist are in my flickr set here.

I still haven't figured out how to capture the sparkle of the subtle and complex glaze.

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Now the hard part is stopping the parade of teaware purchases.....because I've got a pretty nice collection of some pots of different sizes and materials for use at home, a couple of different options for brewing at work, some inexpensive mass produced matched pieces that are very practical for tastings, a few extra special cups that have found regular use at home and at the office....and the cupboard is full.

It's time for a thinning of the less-used pieces for goodwill or gifts--the ones that sometimes burn my fingers, or that just aren't the right size for the volumes I usually brew. I've already gone through some of the obvious culls over the past year, and now some of the nicer but neglected pieces need to go. Not looking forward to this part.

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This week I received two orders of teawares--I think my sales resistance was down after the first order!

Very nice. I really like the little carbon-trap shino pot. I tend not to like a lot of black in the glaze but it works very well here. I particularly like the thumb print from dipping the pot in the glaze - a nice personal touch.


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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haresfur or WC, do you know how the carbon trap effect is created?

Shino is generally a reduction-fired glaze, which means that during the firing air intake to the kiln is restricted relative to the amount of fuel. This changes the chemical state of the iron and other metals in the glaze and clay to give that nice toasty colour. With heavy reduction, the fuel doesn't completely combust and produces carbon - soot. If the potter does this at the point before the glaze melts the carbon gets into the glaze then is trapped in the melt and doesn't reoxidize.

The challenge for the potter is to control the atmosphere during the firing to achieve the desired effect. The potter may use several cycles of oxidation through reduction in the firing. This takes quite a bit of skill and there is still plenty of room for the kiln gods to work their magic. I would say it is easier to control in a gas kiln than wood (you have to go to great lengths to get reduction in an electric kiln, like popping moth balls through the peep holes or introducing some gas and it is rarely done). Still even with gas, my experience is that it can be hard to get the reduction while still maintaining the proper temperature climb. Things like barometric pressure and humidity can have an impact as does the kiln design.

For those of you not as into pottery, Shino is interesting in that several of the desireable characteristics (and the desirability varies with the potter/tradition) such as carbon trap and crawling (pulling away from the clay, leaving bare spots) are usually seen as defects in other glazes. It's really its own universe with whole galaxies to explore.

Interesting, I think of the bright orange colour as being a characteristic of "American Shino", and quite different from much of the Japanese. And if I recall, Japanese shino doesn't tend to show a lot of carbon trap. Shino without much reduction can look a bit like congealed spit (not that that is necessarily a bad thing!). But pottery making has a wonderful tradition of global exchange for thousands of years so maybe the Americans have inspired the Koreans who had inspired the Japanese, who inspired the Americans...


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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Does local oxidation/reduction 'microclimate' in the kiln also explain the variation in color between the more orange parts of the Kyusu and cup's glazes? It looks like a uniform glaze up close by texture, but the color differences are signficant.

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Does local oxidation/reduction 'microclimate' in the kiln also explain the variation in color between the more orange parts of the Kyusu and cup's glazes? It looks like a uniform glaze up close by texture, but the color differences are signficant.

That's a difficult question. To me it looks like the glaze is thicker where it is white, but hard to tell from the photos. The oxidation/reduction could vary through the kiln, as could temperature. The cooling rate may also change and that can have an effect on how things turn out. I'm not sure if those are major players, here though.


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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