This Japanese antique Meiji period azure glazed Imari porcelain set of five bowls is decorated with the leaves and fruit of a fig tree. It is the second set we have had the fortune to collect. While it has two bowls with kintsugi repair, it is in wabi-sabi style no less beautiful, One is very small, one a larger repair, the other three bowls are perfect. They are handmade in near perfect form using a tool to form the rim and the foot shape. A deeper round spot is carved out on either side among the scalloped rim which is used for placing chopsticks. The side wall is formed in towards the center at the scallop. They are then hand glazed in azure, which is different from cobalt or gosu, see more below.
In short, 'Azure' glaze is when the blue is in the glaze, and cobalt which comes from the cobalt oxide and Gosu blue are painted on then glazed with a clear glaze. After firing of the azure glaze, they are then painted in a gold over-glaze enamel then fired again. The rim is completely outlined in gold, and they are decorated in all gold with the motif of a fig tree and it's leaves with the red of ripening figs on some. These are absolutely gorgeous and came from an estate sale in Japan via the dealer. They have no cracks or chips, there is some minor loss of glaze in a few very small spots. We have two close ups of the larger kintsugi repair, we will post on facebook 12/30 or please email me for copies. The bottom the only part that is unglazed is very clean. Update: we found one single bowl that can either replace the bowl with the repair, or any other bowl in the collection. It is in near perfect condition.
SIZE: Width 5.8 by 5.4 inches or 14.8 by 13.7 cm, Height 2.0 inches or 5.0 cm.
Total Weight for five 1635 grams or 3.6 lbs- they are moderately heavy at about 12 oz. each.
The 'Color of Ceramics-Glazing and Decorating', from the 'Exploring Japanese Ceramics' website
Just a few excerpts from a brief explanation that is easy to understand, even for non-potters and others like me!
In pottery decoration, pigments which can withstand high temperatures such as gosu, ‘tessa’ also known as oni’ita and ‘shinsa’ or cinnabar. are used to paint designs after unglazed firing. Then the pottery is glazed, and once it undergoes complete firing, paints which can melt at low temperatures are used for decoration. Since gosu contains cobalt oxide as its main component, the pottery can give off a cobalt-blue color. Tessa contains a dark, rocky mineral which helps to give off a blackish color while shinsa expresses itself as a red color. Pigments used in design can be said to have the trait of frequently blending with the pottery, but on the other hand, decoration with colors such as red, green, purple, and yellow provide vivid hues.
Even in glazing, there are actually many kinds of glaze used. Glazes have the role of a cover or lid over the surface of ceramics and porcelain, but there are also many kinds of clear and colorless glazes along with the abundant types which provide a variety of colors. Depending on each ingredient and firing style, the colors that come out can differ, and so making minute adjustments to the composition of these ingredients will create changes in the colors expressed. Adding iron oxide or manganese oxide to feldspar glaze creates candy glaze called ‘ameyu’ which has a light caramel color with a glossiness, while adding cobalt oxide to the same glaze creates an azure glaze which provides a deep blue finish. Even if you apply the same glaze, differing firing techniques can produce vastly different finishes. For example, applying glaze with added copper and then using an oxidizing flame during firing will cause the copper to oxidize and thus produce a green finish, but using a reduction flame will reduce the copper to produce a purple finish.
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