Mineko Nishimura

A cup of tea can make you feel better even when you are exhausted

- How I started making pottery and my personal history
Since I was a child, I liked making things with my hands such as handicrafts and drawing. That led me to go on to an art school. After graduation, I did jobs creating things with a computer. I worked as an editor of a local magazine then got a job at a photo studio. Around that time, I started cooking for myself and it triggered me to take an interest in pottery. Though I did not have a habit of collecting things, I could not help but buy vessels and realized that I had been fascinated with pottery. I thought there was something about pottery that haunted me. Around the same time, I started working as a temporary clerk at College of Ceramic Arts. While watching pottery trainings, I came to want to create something with my own hands. Then I became a trainee and had two-year training. Then I established my own studio and have been working mainly for craft fairs around Japan and group exhibitions.

Artistic background and policies in production

I simply adore the appearance of tea vessels such as tea pots. I entered College of Ceramic Arts hoping to be able to make one by myself. Once I started learning about the pottery, I realized the difficulty of making tea vessels, which are like the sum of techniques and aesthetics, and had a hard time. However the feeling of fulfillment and disappointment that I have when finishing one has become the enchantment that I cannot feel any other way. It has been the motivation for my creation.
Tea time is when one can take a breather over a cup of tea in the middle of busy days. A cup of tea can make you feel better even when you are exhausted. I think tea time has such a gentle power. And I am trying to create tea vessels with soft atmosphere that would fit to such moments.
Now I produce mainly tea vessels but hope to step up to create dishes.

About techniques and special attention to works

Since where I was born and raised is a production area of porcelain clay, I want to take advantage of it and use the local clay. I try to use the porcelain clay in Ibaraki prefecture including Kasama, as much as possible.
Kasama’s clay is sticky and good for throwing. Also, its particles are fine and get tighten when fired. With those features, it is said to be suitable to produce vessels for daily use. I find it desirable for my creation and am planning to keep using it.
Also, vessels made from Kasama’s clay are categorized as Sekki, Japanese stoneware, like Tokoname ware which is famous for teapots. Therefore I think Kasama’s clay is good for tea vessels, too. I would like to make “yakishime” (high-fired unglazed) tea vessels from Kasama’s clay someday.
Sekki, Japanese stoneware, is a type of high-fired ceramics with a quality between pottery and porcelain. Its green body is not white, which is typical for pottery, and it is hard like a stone, which is a characteristic of porcelain. Since it is fired at a high temperature of 1200 to 1300 Celcius degree, it gets tightened and does not have water absorbability or porosity like porcelain. Therefore, Sekki is usually fired without glazing.Glazing
I use my original glaze which I created after a series of experiments with knowledge I got during my one-year training at College of Ceramic Arts. It is smooth to touch and runs on surface and creates some expression. I focused on those features when I produced it.
I myself like the antiques and it's cracking. So I intentionally make my pieces get crazed to render the antique atmosphere.

Environment of our studio

Our studio is located in Kasama, a production area of pottery. Shops of raw materials for pottery, galleries, museums and shops about pottery gather in this area so it is a good environment for potters.
We are renovating a house which used to be a home for a potter into a space for living and creation by ourselves.Production process, how to choose materials and decide the final shapes.