2022-2023 (english)

I owe an apology to the visitors of this site and particularly to the people who have already done me the honor of ordering chawans :
i have not in 2022 updated chawans.net
even if i continued to create bowls on a daily basis
which can be found in my firing diary where you can always follow the news of my activity

there are several reasons for my silence here

the first is my resistance to all promotional and sales tasks, which I feel as time stolen from creation

I should regularly set aside a week in spring and autumn for these tasks: taking photos, creating files, site data, promoting new creations through communication
not to mention the packaging and sending of orders, very time-consuming, and which I fear

the ideal would be to be able to delegate these tasks but I have not been able to find solutions

if someone, if galleries want to take care of it, I will be really happy and you can contact me for that

the second reason is related to the evolution of my creations
2022 has been a year of marked transition

the meaning of chawans cannot be anecdotal:
- imitate a bygone, exotic past
- be mere collectibles

chawans only make sense if they are used
but their use cannot be reduced to serving a drink
a chawan is not crockery

a chawan lives from its connection to a ritual
a chawan is by nature liturgical
a liturgy without gods, without required belief

a chawan which would only be profane would no longer be a chawan

one can of course acquire a chawan for its beauty, the impression it gives off
for its plastic characteristics: its lines, its colors, its textures, its materials, the techniques which made it appear in the world
but if it is only ceramic, the chawan lacks its core function which elevates it

how to promote chawans when the number of people practicing the tea ceremony is marginal?
how to promote chawans to an audience that does not have the opportunity to learn the tea ceremony?
how to promote the vibrant beauty of chawans to an audience for whom the Japanese tea ceremony, isolated in its organic bubble, will never make sense, cannot be appropriated?

therefore new rituals are needed for chawans
non-japanese rituals
contemporary rituals
which can connect to a sacred that makes sense for our time in historical, sociological, imaginary contexts, radically different from those that originally gave birth to them

private rituals that anyone can do at home without feeling like an impostor or poor imitator

the use of a chawan should bring joy, meaning, and pride into our lives
their ritual must arouse simple, authentic emotions
it is this ritual which must be offered as much as fired clay bowls

that's what I constantly think about when creating these bowls

while the practice of butsudan and kamidana, the buddhist and shinto altars, disappears from the daily life of japanese people, it is necessary to find in the west, and in all cultures, a contemporary equivalent, to these small domestic altars

chawans call for a revival of the art of lares

2022 led me to write a text on « the memorial tea » which offers a simple way to incorporate into one's daily life, wherever on the planet, and whatever one's knowledge of tea, a ritual of gratitude and remembrance


this text also offers keys on how to choose a bowl

this text sheds light on the evolution of the forms of my creations in 2022

from 2021 until summer 2022, I used slits to mark, like neolithic goddesses, the front side of my bowls

if the tea ceremony is in its history primarily a libation
then it makes sense to create kami-bowls
both masculine by certain features of their line
and feminine by others

an attempt at a rustic, atheistic representation of the sacred

in September 2022, a visit to the jomon museum in aomori led me to two striking discoveries:

- the vases were used as coffins for children (infant mortality at that time is a terrible reality: half, probably more, of children do not reach the age of ten)
- some vases have « navels" in the form of small protuberances, a symbol if there is one, of the link, of the goen-ご縁, between two human beings

this visit allowed me to better formulate the connection between the tea ceremony and the ceremony of remembrance for a deceased person who was important in our life

the need to leave it up to the purchaser to name the bowl if the chawan is used for this function knowing that it can be intended for a living person or an abstraction (health, an important dream, etc.)

I have replaced the slits in my bowls with these jomon navels which have transformed the chawan into a face: on a bowl, because of its shape, the navel is read by the eye as a nose

the chawans then cease to be small statues of neo-archaic deities to become portraits of humans
almost rakan

these changes of forms and perception happened without me
initially, what I liked about the "navels" was the possibility of having our hands stimulated by the bowl
by holding a chawan, eyes shut, we can play with this little bounce, between our knuckles, activating sensations that otherwise remain silent
adding kynesthesia to the clay

the presence of these small cyrano-cleopatra noses, led me to look for a new size for the chawans

it is easy for the contemporary western ceramist to fall into the trap of trying to style themselves by creating big, too large, bowls
but if the eye lets itself be imposed by « big », the palms find their agreement in objects which do not force them

the size of the bowl, if constrained by that of the chasen, the macha whip, and its dance, should ideally not create tension in the hands

a small bowl, which to the eye would deem almost dwarf, if it feels as a nest right between the palms, creates a welcoming sensation in agreement with the "caring" purpose of the ceremony

« big » for the eyes
open to the sky, the libation, the prayer, the call, the external: the greater than oneself

« small » for the hands
envelops and refocuses towards intimacy, meditation, meditation, communion: one’s heart

finding the right size takes time and varies according to clay and the type of firing

it took me two seasons to realize that a ball of clay of 400-500g was perhaps the right starting point whereas until now I have always created my pieces from at least 700g

I continued during 2022 to look for right shapes for the lips of my chawans
but I still haven't found a technique that I like

the feet are now stabilized: they are my signature
an ume flower, a tomoe within it, with a bamboo fushi

is therefore missing the third friend of winter (松竹梅) that I am looking for in the color of the bowls: « a bark of the red pine in the rain »
without success whatever the type of firing: noborigama of bizen, low temperature gas in manigod, high temperature in electric in kyoto

the incredible luck of being able to fire pieces in bizen led me to surprise myself in loving this clay and its firing: I would like to find out how to produce more red with this way

the ume flower and its five (odd: asymmetry) petals remains the almost invisible main motif of all my pieces

if a simple ceremony, without artificial sophistication, that anyone can make his own, is required for a chawan, then proposing the elements of this ceremony when acquiring the bowl is also the ceramist’s duty

I am not just talking here about tea tools that can be found elsewhere: chasen (the whisk), chashaku (the tea spoon), chasen-oki (chasen holder to preserve its shape), hishaku (ladle for water), chakin (cloth for the bowl), fukusa (silk square)...

nor, as a ceramist, of cha-ire, the tea container traditionally used to prepare thick tea (koicha). mizusashi (fresh water container) or kensui (waste water container). nor flower vase.

I created some of these pieces last year

two objects fascinate me more - and they are made of wood:

the trays: to delimit the space of the ceremony and allow the pieces to vibrate with each other
boxes that should not simply serve to protect or identify the chawan but create a space for presentation and appeal: a small altar

I thus continued to explore the possibilities of laser engraving with japanese calligraphy for the trays
it is a simple object that touches when it is personalized in such a way

when we choose an ideogram that unfolds a meaning that makes sense to us and that we wish to activate during the tea ceremony, the chawan immediately vibrates on this space

the creation of these personalized trays is a service that I can offer but it is difficult to send large packages internationally and if you are interested by one of them you must therefore come to kyôto or manigod to acquire them

the wooden boxes that traditionally accompany a chawan have a lacing system that scares even the japanese: training is required to appreciate it
in addition to this disadvantage, the box does not allow to take advantage of the bowl stored within it


I am currently thinking about the design of a box whose opening is done by simply sliding a side wall
there would be no more special cords or knots to learn

the side wall removed, the box would constitute a small altar for the bowl, inviting by the sight, its appreciation and its use

the side wall could also, like the trays, be engraved

there could be two versions for these boxes:
- a simple, containing only the bowl
- a more elaborate one, containing a small set of other tea instruments (chasen, chashasku, hishaku, cha-ire)

there are already boxes of this type in japan, either designed for travel or containing a complete set and which in the past was part of the traditional list of wedding gifts (tanzaku-bako)

I will continue to explore these paths that bring chawans to life

transmitting what I have access to in japan is a duty
the end of the pandemic, the return of travelers to the archipelago, and therefore the possibility of coming to visit my little gallery in kyôto, will offer more opportunities for this
anyone interested can contact me

in this spirit of transmission, I published in 2022 "49 notes on ceramics and tea" which summarizes most of my thoughts on the subject
I am ready to present its content to any audience
especially to art students

I continue to propose tea workshops in manigod during the summer

if ceramists want me to help them discover professional stores (clays, enamels, tools) in japan, it is possible to imagine a group trip for that

as updating this site and sending orders requires a lot of time, a large number of pieces at prices lower than those found on chawans.net are only offered in the galleries of my places of creation in kyoto and manigod

you are welcome to discover them

2023 will see the continuation of all the paths mentioned in this text

January 2023 was devoted to red clays fired in the Manigod gas kiln, at low temperature

i also plan to continue what i started in 2022 in manigod: sculpture with metal - which requires a specific space and material

if all goes well, i should finally be able to enjoy a bigger and better equipped creative space in japan from spring...