Today I had the privileged of taking the Blue and White workshop at The Clay Studio. We had several demos today. Throwing large vessels, throwing off the hump, and using cobalt pigment to create designs on bisque ware. Instructing today was Seigoh Maeda, Makoto Saeda, and Kunio Watanabe.

The workshop started with a breif introduction and then moved into demos. I watched the Kunio Wanatabe throwing off the hump demo. He only used two tools, one of which was a simple rib tool he had made and the other was a more complicated "dragonfly" tool. The dragonfly measures the depth and width of the intorior of a pot. He used the rib to form and compress the interior of the cups.

He threw left handed (with the wheel going clockwise) as is standard in Japan, but was still a little nervous about using new clay, on a new wheel, and in front of a couple dozen people. He was throwing a lot wetter than I would, and he even commented on how difficult it was getting to work with, but I think that is because he was using a new clay body( 257 at The Clay Studio is a weird one).

We then moved on into the hand-building room where Makoto Saeda demonstrated decorating using the cobalt pigment as a decorative under glaze. 
  1. He started by drawing a simple design on the plate in pencil. He then used a paper towel to wipe off some of the excess graphite so it doesn't create a resist for the lines he were about to draw. 
  2. He took a small sumi ink brush and created outlines and descriptive marks on the form he was drawing. He then took the mechanical pencil and drew lines around the shapes where he wanted colors. This created a resist barrier that would stop the water and cobalt pigment from running over the edges.
  3. Taking a large brush, he soaked it in the the cobalt solution, and then the tip into some water. This would allow him to create a gradient, by painting with the water and then slowly squeezing the cobalt pigment out of the brush. He moved from Dark to Light pigments, saying it allowed him to visualize the final product more easily.
  4. Going back into the drawing with a razor, a pin/needle tool, and even an eraser allowed him to bring out some highlights.

He worked really smoothly, but admitted he still considers himself a student. He created a beautiful drawing of fruits and leaves (some sort of Japanese mango). I ended up creating a portrait of sorts using the techniques he showed. I was happy wit how much I finished in the hour and a half we had to work. I'm hoping to purchase a smaller sumi ink brush so I can be more detailed. I need to practice much more before I can start on the Golden series.


  1. your piece was beautifully done and you should be pleased with the results. I too attended the workshop and I'm desperate to find some of the gosu that Mr. Saeda used in his painting. If you know where to get some could you let me know?

  2. It's hard to find since it's toxic and cannot be internationally shipped. He did leave some of his extra material at the clay studio, but they aren't going to sell it until they figure out how to go about it :)

    H gave me a small amount as a gift to help me prepare for my grad school application. I'm sending a small sample to Alfred to have them analyze it. I'll let you know the results when I send it out :)