Shintaro Abe

one hundred and two hundred years ahead upon creating my own pieces

Back in my last year at university, I went to an antique fair by chance and a plate sold there caught my eyes. It had colorings in the cracking and its rim was chipped. Still it cost a fair bit. It looked fairly aged but somehow I felt drawn to it. When I looked at it, I felt like the plate itself conveyed its history of several hundred years and it was my turn to take care of it. Since then, I started to think about one hundred and two hundred years ahead while creating my own pieces. A piece that could be still in use as antique tableware after one hundred years, and that continues to be used even after it becomes cracked and chipped. That’s the kind of tableware I aim to create.

The beginning and transition of my career as a potter.

My encounter with pottery was the pottery club at university. The reason I joined the club was not that I was interested in pottery but the seniors at the club were interesting. That’s how it started. Jollied along by the seniors who were very good at praising, I let myself go and got absorbed in pottery. Meanwhile, I rarely went to school and became a senior without any credits. I gave it a thought of leaving university and entering a pottery school but did not have the courage to do so. After all, it took me seven years to graduate from university.
Even in my last year at university, I still had cravings for pottery. So I went on to a ceramic training school in Kasama city, Ibaraki and took one year training of glazing. After that, I established my own studio in Kasama. Now I create pieces for solo and group exhibitions and craft fairs.

The environment of my studio

My studio has a fairly big kiln just for one artist. It is quiet with no stores around. Kasama city in Ibaraki prefecture has been the production area of Kasama ware since mid-Edo era. Having my studio here makes it easy for me to acquire materials and information. Also potters have a connection with each other here.

Production process

Since I often use plaster molds, I choose materials suited for mold-shaping. First, I check how the material works with glazes on a test piece. Then I try it on an actual form. I design shapes after comprehending what I can and cannot do with the material clay.
I use plaster molds instead of throwing, which is popular for shaping. First, semi-porcelain clay formed into a sheet in advance is put to a mold. Then I remove it from the mold and shave it into a shape. I make plaster molds by shaving off the solid plaster. The feature of the plaster is that it transfers even thin lines. Therefore I try not to leave ambiguous lines. As for the glazes, I examine them using Seger formula which I learned during my training and also check their chemistry with the material clay.

Instruction

My pieces are made from porcelain clay or semi-porcelain clay. These materials have low water absorbability. There are small cracks in the glaze that covers the green body and colors get in little by little through those cracks with use. Soaking in water before the first use helps it to keep the initial texture of the piece. Dishwasher is not recommended for those with thin and delicate parts. Do not use on the direct fire nor in the oven for the materials are not heat resistance. I hope you enjoy the changes of the texture during the long and continued use.