Kurinuki is a term used for a Japanese technique of hand building. Discovery by digging. Located on the east cost of Southern India lies Pondicherry, A small town that I’ve truly grown fond of. Situated here is Golden Bridge Pottery, my alma mater. A pottery that has grown to shape the Indian contemporary ceramics. A place that I love going back to. Set between tall trees and ocean breeze, GBP makes up to be a highly inspiring and a little daunting space for an aspiring ceramist.
This time I had gone there to attend ‘full circle’ a workshop conducted by Elena Renker. A ceramist from New Zealand who had in fact started her journey in clay at Golden Bridge Pottery in 1977. Elena is well known for her shino wares and tea bowls.
The technique of Kurinuki is in a way complete inverse of wheel throwing. Where in wheel you shape the form from the inside. In Kurinuki you take a block of clay, shape it from the outside first, by faceting, paddling, stamping and once that is done you start digging up the inside to bring out the true function. Kurinuki opens up the clay and exposes all its impurities to create an interesting surface, it provides a great surface for the shino glaze to interact with. The iron oxide decoration beneath adds an extra focal point.
It’s a very intuitive and expressive technique, having patience is the key to this technique. As once you shape the outside you need to wait for the clay to dry at different stages to dig up the inside that reflects the exterior of the piece. In order to be functional you need to dig up just the right amount. In the workshop we played around with forms ranging from tea bowls, small and large to bottles, vases and treasure boxes.
After a week of making we glazed our pieces with different types of shinos and ways of application and glaze thickness with some iron oxide decorations. Preparing them for the final variable, that is the wood firing. The loading of the kiln along side the different firing atmosphere the kiln goes through and the fuel that is wood all land up having a say on how the final piece comes out. It’s the unpredictability of wood firing that makes the process so thrilling.
I was surrounded by some great bunch of inspiring workshop participants. Learning a very different approach towards clay, culture and functionality. It’s always a treat to be back at Golden Bridge Pottery.