Last month I told you about the Arita 2016/ project and the many designers working together to explore the 400 years legacy of Arita pottery. Today I want to introduce you to the Kouemon pottery who's founded in Arita in the 19th century. Throughout its history, the pottery has developed characteristic styles of making, typically these involve the use of Sometsuke (a blue underglaze technique) and Somenishiki (an overglaze on top of Sometsuke). However, as is common with the Arita/2016 project, new challenges have been handed to the Kouemon pottery.
The pottery of Kouemon has been evolving the technique of overglazing for many years. Overgalzed items are the best selling products and most of the employees are overglaze craftsmen and women. However, for 2016/, he decided to work on creating porcelain products that have different wall thickness – for the team it isn’t about overglazing at all, they use this project to stretch their technology and their knowledge.
The biggest worry is not firing, but molding. For example, when making vessels with 22mm thickness on the base and 4mm thickness on the edge, the thicker part is unable to dry. Furthermore, it will then be fired at high temperatures of 1300 ºc. In the prototype stage, that thick bases exploded in the kiln. They’ve learnt the thicknesses that can be achieved by trial and error. Sometimes he was confused by the designer's requests, but the prototyping and development stages of the projects have seen many people involved and together we have found solutions.
Kouemon is just one of the many potteries involved in the project Arita2016/ next week I will show more of the work of Dutch designer Kirstie van Noort. She graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven in 2011 and has since that time had her own studio.