Iga

Joe Bruhin and Shiho Kanzaki in Shigaraki, Japan.

With Shiho Kanzaki in Shigaraki, Japan. Kanzaki san sensei is the incomparable master of Iga ceramics and is credited with reviving the anagama kiln from medieval Japan. He has been a mentor, inspiration and a friend to me.

Iga is unglazed, high fired ware that first appeared in the 16th century in Iga.  It is a small village in  Japan north of Kyoto, near the very famous pottery city Shigaraki which is known  as one of the six ancient pottery centers.  Characteristics of Iga ware are scorch markings and a natural flowing vitrified glaze.  Within this glaze a blue-green is desired. Some spot on the piece a red skin should appear and it also is desired for the embers of the burning wood to carbonized and meld to the surface of the pot, this carbonization if fired hot and long enough will assume the strong appeal of a rough rock’s surface. There is a special quality of one more element. During the firing stones come to the surface of the clay,  these stones are like stars. Iga ware is fired to a very high temperature and has a long firing schedule in order to deliver the rough but elegant textured finish.  The way I achieve this style of pottery which I desire on my works is placing the pieces directly in the firebox. I learned this technique from observing the surfaces on the works of Japanese master potter, Shiho Kanzaki.  In 2003 I met Kanzaki san sensei in Bloomsburg Pennsylvania where he had built a kiln on potter and professor Karl Beamer’s property .  There I first experienced his way of firing an anagama.  He also explained to me and shared his ideas of kiln construction which I later built on my own property in 2004.  In the spring of 2008 Kanzaki san sensei invited me to his kiln in Shigaraki Japan to assist him with his firing.  I am most grateful for the generosity and teachings of this true master.  Iga ware is my passion and chosen style to express my vision of beauty.  The works here are what I refer to as Iga ware and have been manifested from my kiln which I named Cavelight.

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