In the Souhougama workshop in Shiga, Japan, master ceramicist Yoshihisa Okuda keeps a special ingredient.
A locally sourced fine white clay, free of impurities that cause discolouration, is easy to shape in the wet state (a feature known as plasticity), but has one particularly stunning property when it emerges from the kiln – vibrant translucency at thicknesses of up to 8mm.
Mr. Okuda calls the clay “Shigaraki”, tying the unique ingredient to its geographical and cultural origins in an area where stoneware production dates back over a millennium. In truth, all pottery from this locality is labelled Shigaraki owing to the quality of the clay which, by and large, displays a typical red-brown/grey colour mix. But the white clay Mr. Okuda works with is a special patented blend of his own concoction.
Designers take note: The material used here is the stuff of genuine excitement.
You can appreciate how, as the thickness of a translucent material increases, the amount of light passing through it is reduced. This is why regular white porcelain, which is translucent, tends to be so thin and precious (and why mother always winced when we so much as winked at the Wedgewood). As ceramic wall thicknesses increase, a broader range of structures can be formed with a lower risk of breaking. The patented white Shigaraki has lower attenuation of transmissivity than regular kaolin-derived porcelain and therefore, you can go thicker and brighter at the same time!
And that’s exactly what Okuda-san is doing at Souhougama. In league with Japanese product designers such as Masahiro Minami and Michio Akita, he is producing objects of extraordinary beauty and luminescence. (View the luminous wash-basins in the gallery above.)
Solstice Lighting is proud to show Souhougama to Australia and we have the stunning Senkou pendant on display in our showroom. We invite you to come down and see it. We also encourage object designers to contact Souhougama to discuss opportunities to use this unique material.
http://souhougama.com/ – Website of master ceramicist Souhougama.
https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/regional/shiga/shigaraki.html – Japanese Government website concerning the Shigaraki region and produce.
http://www.miho.or.jp – Travelling to Japan? If not, the Miho Museum is a reason to go. It’s in the same area as Souhougama and is unique in the world for both its architecture and the collection within it.
http://www.michioakita.jp/ – Website of designer Michio Akita
http://masahiro-minami.com – Website of designer Masahiro Minami