Wednesday, April 7, 2010


There are many types of glazes throughout Japan, all with their own characteristics and uses. The Japanese ceramics color palette could be called subdued compared to other countries. Since many of the glazes are colors that are found throughout nature. Earthy browns and reds, natural greens and blues and gentle yellows and whites. The colors harmonize with each other and create pieces that are easy on the eyes with quiet beauty.

The glazes at Sara Yama Studio reflect the Japanese color palette very well. In the picture above you can see the the range of glazes found at the studio. Like I mentioned above, it is easy to see how these colors could fit so well in natural settings.

There are 26 glazes at Sara Yama, ranging from soft black, pale white to burnt reds and ocean blues. I have to admit, when I first saw my color choices at Sara Yama almost a year ago I was disappointed at the lack of medatsu iro, or colors that stand out. I was hoping to find pinks, electric blues, bright greens and shiny golds but I was instead presented with low key natural tones, which seemed boring to me at the time. After working with the colors for a few months, I learned the error of my narrow thinking and have grown to love the beautiful and gentle hues. Japanese glazes implore you to look closer and study each piece, since usually once you look closely the depths and hidden features of the piece are discovered. Learning to use these mild colors in an imploring way is a true challenge and it is easy to see why Japanese ceramics are some of the best in the world. It takes time and a trained eye to learn how to utilize and manipulate each glaze to its full potential.
Like I said before, there are 26 glazes at Sara Yama but two firing processes so actually there are 52 colors to choose from. Some of the color differences between the two processes are hardly noticeable but for some the difference is drastic.

Here I lined up the glaze sample side by side, left is OF firing and right is RF firing. (both photos)

The left side photo are glazes that look relatively the same OF or RF, but the right side photo shows glazes that are very different in OF and RF firing.

OF or RF also determines the gloss of a glaze. In the right side photo, you can see the difference in gloss from the first cups in line. The left side (OF) is highly glossy, while the right side (RF) is matte and slightly iridescent.

The ring of glazes here are my ten favorite colors at Sara Yama. I mostly like to use dark red browns and green blue colors. But I've also started to experiment with yellows and purples.

This red is my absolute favorite glaze. It is bold yet subdued. The left is OF firing and right is RF firing. I find myself mostly using the OF firing process since the red color comes out more.
More to come on glazes soon.

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