old man pottery teapots


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My work in pottery is from an interest in having a practical skill and  attending to the basic needs of life. My outlook in art and craft arises from observation.  All around I observe a dynamic, energetic, free movement of light, color, form, texture, and shape,, both particular  and harmonius, and I am both separate and one.  Something of a contradiction. I don't find a need to analyse, control or manufacture any of this.  When I paint a landscape I merely transpose the details of my limited observations to the painting.  When I make pottery, it is merely the production of a simple, useful object, and occasionally something of an art object.

I tend to make  what I'd call folk craft, with a sense of discovery and learning. It is, I hope,  a poetic and simple form of art and craft for a more ecological and aware society. I have been influenced by the pottery training I received and this has led to an interest in Japanese pottery and aesthetics. 

民芸陶器 Mingei - touki   and  小代焼  Shoudaiyaki.

The term mingei, 民芸 (folk art) was coined by Yanagi Soetsu (1889-1961) in 1926 to refer to common crafts that had been brushed aside and overlooked by the industrial revolution. Yanagi's book "The Unknown Craftsman" has since become a classic. Mingei is an abbreviation of “minshu-teki kogei” which means “hand-crafted art of ordinary people.” The Mingei products are mostly ordinary and utilitarian objects.

In the wake of the great tide of industrialism in the early part of the last century in Japan, something of the human touch and spirit was lost in everyday articles of use. It was with a sense of urgency that Yanagi and his lifelong companions, the potters Bernard Leach, Hamada Shoji, Tomimoto Kenkichi (who later left the Mingei group) and Kawai Kanjiro sought to counteract the desire for cheap, mass-produced products by pointing to the works of ordinary craftsmen that spoke to the spiritual and practical needs of life. The mingei movement is responsible for keeping alive many traditions.

Another style that can be grouped with Mingei is Shodai-yaki,
小代焼. Shodai employs iron-rich clay, over which a dark brown iron glaze is applied, and then over it rice-straw ash-glaze is either ladled or dramatically dripped on. It is also referred to as Koshiro-yaki

Made from a local iron rich clay, a particular feature of this ware is its bold and yet simple rustic character. By modifying the blend of glazes and by utilizing the changes which take place at different firing temperatures, delicate control is exercised over the production of colors for the blue, yellow and white Shodai-yaki. In addition, the dribbled, extravagant patterns and the depth of color of the glazes harmonize with the forms of the pieces, to produce this sense of bold simplicity.

Mingei works are often found to be unsigned, because at the time they were just another local item.  Like many a local artist, they are not contemporary, and are working to their own muse, not giving  fame or fortune any importance.

(part credit to Robert Yellin)


Bowl, made at Hagi, h7cm x d17 cm

Vase, made at Tajimi, near Seto.
AkaShino glaze. h16.5 x d10.5 cm

Teabowl, made at Tajimi, near Seto.
AkaShino glaze. h9 x d11.5 cm.
Shino glaze, h7cm x d11cm.

Handmade pot, Tamba,
ash glaze, h12cm x d10cm.


  • The word traditional is used to define the time honored, long-established, domestic pottery shapes and forms and the process of manufacture. It does not mean a psychological conformity or limitation of skill and ability for the potter.

  • In drawing attention to the small scale maker of domestic utilitarian pottery, the local maker of pottery, it is not prescribing design, aesthetic direction or purpose, or industry development, good or bad.

  • The understanding of what kind of pottery this may refer to, is not limited to what I have described. Essentially it is about the hand-maker, and anyone is open to make a contribution.

  • The emphasis for this kind of pottery is not intended to be comparative, nor exclusive. It is looking only at this pottery in particular, for its merits. General schemes and broad perceptions, which take in the many and diverse, invariably do not see the relevance or merit of actually working attentively as the individual craftsperson.

  • The craft potter may want to express themselves as amateur, because it is a love of craft production, and not merely commercial, but this should not be thought of as unskilled, unprofessional, or without high standards.

Glossary of Earthenware Midfire Glazes as used by Peter.

Note the names are just descriptive labels, not necessarily definitive.
The images are shown to see examples of the glazes.
The teapots shown are not being offered for sale unless shown on the main buying page.
The glaze appearance alters over white clay or red clay.
Each teapot is unique, handmade, handcrafted, original, and new.

Earthenware generally means fired clay with a high porosity typically in the temperature range 1000°C to 1200°C. The porosity provides an insulation to keep the brew warm.

The kiln firing range called midfire is approx 1120°C to 1220°C, lower than for stoneware and at the higher end of earthenware.

For midfire I use a blend of terracotta/earthenware clay and low stoneware clay. Clay porosity is lowered giving better durability compared to ordinary earthenware, while some porosity is retained to act for good heat insulation.

Typically Earthenware and Midfire is not a reduction glaze such as with a high fired Stoneware or Porcelain Glaze, but an oxidation glaze, and can be fired in an electric kiln.

The advantage with midfire is a saving in fuel, effort, and time, reducing the environmental impact.

Celadon Green

Celadon usually refers to a high fired porcelain of a subtle jade green tint from the reduction of Iron Oxide.

This midfire version, here I am referring to a reminiscent glossy, translucency and depth of color. With a light green coloring using Tin and Copper oxide, and a pinch of Red Iron oxide.

celadon green teapot


An opaque white tin glaze, or Bristol glaze, semi gloss. Also as is called Maiolica, Delftware, Lusterware, Faience.

The base tin glaze, opaque, decorated in the Majolica style or not, plain white or colored with Cobalt Carbonate for blues or Copper Oxide for greens.

majolica teapot

Opal Green

An opalescent quality in the depth, translucency, and complexity of the glaze.

The color green is from Tin and Copper Oxide. Semi-Transparent and Glossy.

green teapot

Rockingham Brown

This is a traditional dark brown glaze using Red Iron Oxide and Manganese Dioxide.

The pottery form is usually a round body. White slip can be used for decoration. Semi-Transparent and Glossy.



This refers to the amber and brown color in a liquid and translucent glaze.

The colorants are Red Iron Oxide or Yellow Ochre. Semi-Transparent and Glossy.

brown teapot

The images are shown to see examples of the glazes.