Tuesday, November 22, 2016

How I made a chanoyu binkake (brazier for Japanese tea ceremony) 

To be sure that the electric heating unit would fit, I made a scale drawing that is 12% larger than the finished dimensions, to allow for the clay shrinkage during drying and firing. On the potter's wheel I used 12 pounds of clay to form a bowl according to my drawing. 

When the bowl was leather hard, I cut out the front window, made a hole in the bottom for the electric cord, and added 3 feet. 

I also made a holder for the special Japanese electric heating unit (shaped like the traditional charcoal used for chanoyu), and separate platforms and little discs to adjust the height for different tea kettles. 

I traced Ginkgo tree leaves from my garden and painted them with 2 glazes to create a variation in colors, then applied an eggshell matte white glaze over the whole piece. This makes a subtle contrast between gloss and matte. The Ginkgo had been one of my favorite trees even before I discovered that it is a symbol used by the Urasenke School of Tea Ceremony. It's prehistoric triangular leaves and glowing yellow autumn color are amazing. 

It was a relief to see that my planning for the electric heater and traditional semi-circular front piece worked

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