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Create your own bizen ware in a hands-on clay kneading workshop


Bizen ware is not exclusively made by potters – you yourself can make Bizen ware while getting a taste of what it’s like to be a potter in a so-called “Hands-On Clay-Kneading Workshop


In a clay-kneading workshop, you will work up a piece that you visualize by kneading clay. The completed work depends on the person, with some people making beer mugs, others making plates, etc. Draw a design or add your initials to the work to create an original piece.


Taking the clay-kneading workshop
You will place Bizen clay on top of a potter’s wheel and make your very own work, which will then be fired in a kiln and delivered to you later on. Your Bizen ware will be, in every sense of the word, one of a kind.


Normally, in the clay-kneading workshop, electric potter’s wheels like those used by professional potters are not used. Electric potter’s wheels require a subtly precise application of pressure and do not have the same “sense of creation" as do manually powered potter’s wheels.


Another thing is that it is easier to correct pieces on manual potter’s wheels so that you can work the piece up exactly as you visualize it.


After your original work is dried, it is fired in a kiln by a professional potter, who is likely to welcome requests like “I would like to add a hidasuki change to the piece.”


By all means, try to put these original pieces you made to use as you actually go about your everyday activities. There is no point in doing the clay-kneading workshop if the work you did is going to serve solely as a memento of your travels and just be stored away on a shelf somewhere.


You won’t see the beauty of Bizen ware in enhancing the color tones of foods, making better tasting alcohol, and purifying water until you put it to use in your actual daily life.


Why not take the excitement you get when your finished work gets delivered to your doorstep and get a taste of that excitement whenever you use the Bizen ware in your everyday life?


Making your very own Bizen ware
It takes approximately one hour to knead the clay. Even if you work the piece up to the exact size you were shooting for during the clay kneading, when the piece is actually put through the kiln, it becomes quite a bit smaller. Thus, if you end up working up a slightly oversized piece, the finished work will end up being just the size you had in mind.


If you are making a cup, you will have to make decisions about whether to add a handle, what to do with the design, etc., when you are kneading the clay. If you are working on a plate, you will likely have thoughts come to mind, like whether you should slightly bend the edges or ask the shop attendant to make it so you can add a botamochi design.


The biggest appeal of clay kneading lies in how you question yourself in this fashion in the process of building up your original work. Not knowing what your work is going to look like until it is actually fired is one of the charms of Bizen ware.


Below are some photos of Bizen ware made in these clay-kneading workshops.



Since these works weren’t made with the electric potter’s wheels used by professionals, the surfaces are uneven. They are distinct works with a different feel than the refined works produced by professional potters.


Also, upon close observation of the pottery in the pictures, you will notice a crack in part of the cup; however, with cracks of this size, you will be able to use the cup with no problem whatsoever. Bizen ware is so strong that is said to “stay in one piece even when thrown”, so you needn’t worry about slight blemishes.


Then again, you will want to avoid cracks to the extent possible. If air gets into the clay during kneading, it becomes more fragile, so release the air as you work on your piece.

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