The first time I saw Rokujizo (this teabowl), I didn’t think much of it as I flipped through the pages of the pottery magazine. A decade or more later, this is bar none my favorite Ido teabowl. The shape, color, and landscape are amazing, but more than that, looking at this bowl got me thinking about economy in throwing and trimming more than any other piece I can think of.
If you look carefully at the foot, you’ll notice that it is untrimmed. The width and height of the foot, the thickness of the base, and the angle from foot to body were all decided on the wheel as a decision on the part of the potter to make a form which wouldn’t require much attention after throwing.
When you think about it, trimming and reprocessing scraps takes much more time than throwing. If that step can be abbreviated or eliminated, then you’ve saved a lot of time and sweat.
My sakazuki shown here are inspired by this economy of process shown in Rokujizo, as well as a type of sakazuki called ‘yama-sakazuki’ which are entirely trimmed. They are very quickly made utilitarian cups which were used for large groups and artistic value was not a consideration. They are easily identifiable by their untrimmed feet, both outside and in. The foot is just a flat surface with string mark from the cutoff string. These kind of cups often have a wobble from an uneven cutoff.
These sakazuki had just the inside of the feet trimmed, as many customers today like the look and feel of untrimmed cups, but the wobble not so much… it also gives me a place to sign the cup without marring the untrimmed outer surface.
There was very little trimming scrap upon finishing, and it was still soft enough to wedge back into the remaining unused clay, so no clay recycling!