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  • Ange Peter

The Art of Haiyu Slipware

I perceive Haiyu Slipware as a way of life as much as it is a technique, and therefore it becomes a complete form of art. Practicing this technique requires the kind of commitment you can only make if you're really dedicated to the way of Nature-because you rely heavily on Nature for your results. There is no stain, no coloring oxide, no ready made glaze bought at the store, and certainly no firing done while you're in bed, asleep/or doing other things. Haiyu is a life style, because you need to find forests and gather ash from branches and leaves that are left after clearing for timber, or after a storm. You need the time to wash and purify this ash, before you even know if it will give you anything remarkable at all, and then you have to look for a transparent glaze that will allow the slip decoration to clearly show, as well as give you the most incredible rich colors ranging from a deep iron red to a pale blue.

On the making front of this technique, you have to move away from the quick spinning wheel and go for plaster of paris molds that are made to hold shapes carefully worked out. The shape has to be so satisfying to the maker that you're ready to reproduce it several times at least. Starting from the simpler open platter/bowl shapes you can take the technique through to closed forms. The challenge remaining the same: not to disturb the slip trailed decoration that is done wet on wet on a flat slab of clay.



You may ask what's the big deal about not using this decoration cum glaze on a thrown pot? Well, this is really the point-ash glaze gives you the dull greens and grays or runny browns unless the slipped surface is firmly pressed against plaster of paris and made quite flat. So the pots a necessarily hand built.

Ash glazes can me made in different ways - 40% in a transparent glaze base, or simply in combination with Feldspar, or in a triangle with Feldspar and China clay.

The best part in this technique is that the ceramist only does 1/3 of the work, the other 1/3 is done by the flux of Nature in high temperature chemistry, and the third part is done by the one who uses this piece. Touching it, serving food in it (if it's a platter) or rubbing it with a damp cloth-all this enhances the glaze over time as it keeps developing richer surface. So there is interaction on all levels, and it is this interaction and involvement that makes Hayiu awareness promoting as opposed to a dead and finished object that is only visually tantalizing. Haiyu Slipware encourages insight and debth as it is an ongoing process that starts out with full engagement of the maker and asks one for another kind of engagement as the owner.