Esprit Bonsai International – August 2019

(Nancy Kaufman) #1
70 - EspritBonsaiInternational #101

� Pots and

50% wood ash, 50% feldspar, mixed with
vinegar or red wine to dissolve the impu-
rities and get a cream-like enamel. Many
ceramicists wash the ashes, but I prefer
to keep all the materials, which I pass
through a very fine sieve. I have buckets
and buckets of ashes in my workshop; it’s
like Ali Baba’s cave! The different woods
will give different colours. I add oxides or
dried plants – orange or banana peels for
example; I do some testing and when I’ve
found the right colour, I first try it on small
pots. There’s some kind of alchemy going
on, like in pastry ... I continue to experi-
ment, to do research; this is what I like the
most. The scope is so huge, we are never
done! It’s like a birthday present every time
you open the kiln.

E.B.I.: What firing technique do you use?
J.-P.K.: Colours and textures are main-
ly developed during the firing: it is a very
important step of the process. The Jap-
anese call it “Kamado-gami”, the god of
the kiln: a potter must control the fire,
the arrangement of the pieces in the kiln,
temperature, humidity ... Sometimes, you
have to wait a month or more to get the
right atmospheric pressure and start firing.
I fire most of my ceramics between 24
and 30 hours, passing through different
stages to obtain a silky texture and soft-
er colours. I increase the temperature to
1240°C (2260°F), then I slowly come down

Dimensions: 31 × 21.5× 8cm(12¼× 8½× 3⅛in.).

Jean-Philippe Koenig
has been sculpting
and painting dragons
on his pots for more than
twenty years. The mythical
animal has become one
of his signature motifs.
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