[Clayart] design, cultural misunderstanding/story

Robert Harris robertgharris at gmail.com
Mon Sep 13 15:50:25 UTC 2021

What Mr. Uchida called Neriage (also sometimes called Nerikomi) is called
Agateware in the UK and was done at least as far back as the 17th C. While
18th and 19thC agateware was not usually thrown, there are examples of
thrown English agatware, and some of the earliest examples, e.g. from 1670s
were thrown. (And slip marbling was known at least as far back as the early
17th Century).

(ANd a quick Google search tells me that agateware was a fairly common
decorative technique in colonial America.)

I imagine Mr. Uchida's design patents were very specific to a certain facet
of the technique (neriage in Japan is far older than Mr. Uchida too). I
would be interested to know exactly what he was doing that was different
from traditional neriage.

On Sun, 12 Sept 2021 at 14:13, mel jacobson <melpots at mail.com> wrote:

> Kunio Uchida was not ever a potter. He was a design master that
> graduated no 1 in his class at the Tokyo School of design. mid 30's.He was
> hidden away during the war2.  He
> had a sponsor for his entire career. She paid for everything
> and got a nice percentage return on her money as his fame grew.
> (he took me to meet her just once.)
> He hired the finest hand craftsmen he could find.  His crew was
> very well paid to make his designs of vessels.
> Mr. Uchida controlled the glazes and the firing.
> Mr. Hamada was thought of as a potter here in the U.S. He too was a
> designer and a PH.D chemist. He only made pots for pictures and film.
> Susan Peterson made him into an Icon/Zen etc. Not really true. He told me
> face to face..."Big PR".
> He controlled all the glazes and firing.  He had a Korean woman that
> illustrated his pots. They made pots in the thousands per year.  Bernard
> Leech
> did not sit around on a potter's wheel. He too had a very wealthy sponsor
> in London.
> Many believe he made no money in the pottery in St. Ives.
> Mr. Uchida stressed with me the importance of drawing images on paper that
> would become
> a standard design in my studio. I drew at home for one hour every evening
> before bed.
> He looked at all my drawings every day. The boys in the back room taught
> me to make
> pots.  A Master Designer and the best of Craftsmen, all in one place. Yes,
> I was blessed.
> Uchida worked on a drawing board for about two hours a day. Often he would
> bring out his
> favorite drawing...red crayon outlining his favorite drawing. Mr. Imahori
> would make the pot
> from the drawing....about 5 of them. I too had to make pots from his
> drawing. He would look
> at the pot and usually say. "Bakadami"  or, pug the clay.
> Often Uchida was pressed into action because of a huge order, let us say
> 1000 flower
> arrangement pots.  He narrowed it down quickly and we started throwing
> like mad.
> we made things to exact specs.  It was business.
> Mr. Uchida often told me to look at the best of the Ming Celedons. He felt
> they were the
> best pots ever made.  He did not hold much stock in Korean farmer pots, as
> he called them.
> He would have been very proud of my trip to China doing old hare's fur and
> seeing the best
> of the Ming.  It is hard to describe holding a perfect, wood fired cone 12
> Ming Vase. Not
> a flaw.  Sagger fired.
> Uchida's mentor in school studied at the Bauhaus.  Here are the
> principles:
>     No border between artist and craftsman. ...
>     The artist is an exalted craftsman. ...
>     «Form follows function». ...
>     Gesamtkunstwerk or the 'complete work of art'. ...
>     True materials. ...
>     Minimalism. ...
>     Emphasis on technology. ...
>     Smart use of resources.
> That is what I studied most in Kyoto.  Yes, Nordic design from a Japanese
> Master.
> What was beaten into my head was the word "Form".  No glaze or color can
> hide
> bad form.  Form is the heartbeat of making pots.  If you work alone you
> must be
> a very harsh critic of your work. It helps to use paper and pencil to
> start. Some
> potters work on the wheel as a design technique.  But, because you threw
> it, does
> not make a good design.
> And as I was told, over and over...adding grids, or a thousand small
> flowers will
> never make a bad form any better. If your form is perfect all you need is
> pure
> white glaze. And, about 80 percent of all made pots in our studio .."Pure
> White".
> And as to Paul's question..."Must you give away your ideas or
> recipes?"...The answer
> is still "NO".  If you hold it dear, keep it.  Others will just try to
> write books
> and make money from your idea.  Ron and John taught us how to make our own
> secrets.
> They never allowed others to re/publish their work.  As it should be. It
> is called
> copyright.
> I have given away freely many of my original glazes including black
> shino.  But, as I say..
> "they never get my clay, my kiln, my timing or techniques.  And that is
> what makes one
> unique.  The `entire package`.
> mel
> PS, Kunio Uchida was the first known designer to use an ear syringe as a
> design tool, and
> he developed the use of brown and white clay mixed and thrown in one
> pot...it is called
> neriage.  He held design patents on both items in Japan.
> website: www.melpots.com
> www.melpots.com/CLAYART.HTML
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