Monday, November 8, 2010

Pretreatment for pottery

One of our customers asked me if you need pretreatment for brand-new *pottery wares. He found a video on YouTube that tells you to boil the item in tea before using.

My brief answer will be “I personally think you do not have to do it.”
I don’t do it myself, either.

The method in the video is a little different. What I know is that instead of tea, we use **rice washings. If not available, you can boil water with a little rice in it or you can also use flour. This is a kind of tradition and many ceramic shops and makers still recommend doing the treatment.

I think the purpose of the treatment is …
1. To prevent water leak
2. To get milder kannyu (crackle pattern)
3. To sterilize

I personally think this treatment is mainly for the first reason, preventing water leak. Pottery has very minute space between grains. With some rough grain potteries, if you leave water in them for a long time, the water will leak from the surface slowly. By boiling with rice, the rice grain will get into the minute space in the pottery, and fill up.

I’ve asked ceramic makers and artists about it. There are many different opinions about this tradition. An artist said that this theory has no scientific basis and the particle of rice that gets in the pottery could cause molding.

I’m not sure about the effect for the second reason, getting milder crackle. For the third reason, of course you need to clean brand new wares, but I think regular washing is enough.

I think you don’t have to do the treatment because first, it is very troublesome and second, nowadays, very few potteries leak. I hope my opinion help you to understand about the pretreatment for potteries.

*pottery: In Japanese, there are two major words for ceramics. One is “jiki” and another one is “toki”. Jiki is porcelain, which is hard ceramics, impermeable, and has half-translucent. On the other hand, toki is little permeable and non-translucent. In this article I was referring to toki ceramics. So the treatment is for this particular ceramic and not for porcelain.

**rice washings: We rinse rice with water in a bowl before cooking. The water gets murky white after rinsing. We usually throw away the water. You can use the water for the pretreatment.

This is my flower vase, which leaks. It is okay for a short item use. But after using a couple of days, I find that the bottom of the vase is wet and sweating. I am using the vase as it is. I might need the treatment for this vase (^_^;)

This is the bottom of the vase.

It's dry on this photo.

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