A Tea Addict's Journal

Sprayed glaze pot

November 23, 2009 · 3 Comments

I have lots of these oddities, here’s one that I unpacked recently from my boxes.

This is a pretty standard julunzhu pot, with a straight and short spout and somewhat rounded shape.  These were popular export items for Japan.  If you look closely, especially on the other side….

It looks a bit pock-marked.  These are glaze spots.  Now, people will tell you that older pots were fired along with glazed ware, and in the kiln, because they were uncovered, they would get sprayed by glaze coming off these other glazed wares.  I’m not sure if that’s actually true, but supposedly, this is a sign of old age.  As with all such signs, however, such as the whole “single hole” thing or “joint line” thing:

You can perhaps rule out pots that are “newer” because they don’t have any of those signs of older methods of construction, but just because a pot has them, it doesn’t really mean anything.  I often see some who say “oh, this pot is xxx and has xxx, therefore it must be old”.  No, it does not, because a new fake can easily reproduce the same.  This one looks old, feels old, and may very well be old.  I am never quite sure, however.  It’s much easier ruling out the new.

It is a curious little thing though, down to the chop mark at the bottom.

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3 responses so far ↓

  • jasonwitt // November 24, 2009 at 12:01 pm | Reply

    How can anyone tell how old or high-quality a pot is? Seems to always remain a mystery. In my opinion, if the pot works well enough, giving a good flavor and the right functionality with handling, then that’s good-enough quality.

  • osososososos // November 24, 2009 at 5:00 pm | Reply

    Two oddities:

    First, the “glaze spray” is on the inside of the lid: pots are fired with their lids on or with the lids next to the pot, skirt down, to manage shrinkage. So if this is glaze spray, how did glaze get to the underside of the lid? Likewise, there’s glaze spray on the underside of the pot, on the foot. The pot being fired on its foot, this would be very hard to achieve. Also, the spots seem to have a relatively even distribution.

    Second, the little pinholes in the clay surface.

    Given all this, it’s more likely, this pot may have been made of clay with larger particle size feldspar inclusions that melted out, like in shigaraki ware. Maybe this was yixing that wasn’t uniformly made into powder and so contained some coarser material. Or maybe the potter blended the clay with some feldspar to make it melt at the temperature his kiln fired to, but he used too coarse a grade.

    Either way, I really like the rough look and craftsmanship!

  • Anonymous // November 25, 2009 at 11:32 am | Reply

    Well.. it could be a couple of things.

    First, you have to understand what clay is, what glaze is, and what happens in a kiln.

    “Clay” is a mixture of various weathered stone, usually mostly silica and alumina in various proportions.
    Then there are trace minerals that affect things like color, texture, flux, etc. That’s why some clays melt at lower temps than others.

    “Glaze” is not some magical formula of something specific. When enough flux is added to “clay” it melts and becomes shiny/sealed. So.. glaze is pretty much just melted clay. It’s like.. if you were to let a snowball partially melt, and then refreeze, the outside would be slick/shiny and the inside would have air gaps. The earliest glazes were self glazing clays that had alot of salt and lead in them. When the clay dried, the salts efferevesce to the surface. When you fire it, the salts flux the surface and cause the “glaze”. Then there’s ash glaze, which happens when the ash from the wood lands on the pot, and causes it to flux, and melt a little bit. And then there’s salt glazes, where you get the kiln hot, and then throw salt in. The salt vaporizes and condenses on the surface, fluxes, and then the surface is “glazed”.

    On this pot, what I suspect happened is not that glaze from a neighbor pot jumped. It’s called crawl, and usually it happens in bigger sheets. What I suspect happened is that there was alot of salt carbonates in the clay body. When it was fired, there was some outgassing through small channels in the clay, and it collected at the points of pinhole exit, causing small local deposits of flux, which melted into those little “glaze” spots. Which is why as osososo (bears3?) noted, it’s also inside the lid.

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