Hamada Shoji (1894-1978)

Slab press molded ‘henko’ bottle vase
Salt glaze over cobalt blue pigment
22.5 x 16.5 x 9 cm
8⅞ x 6½ x 3½ inches
Aside from the colors particular to raku ware, which Hamada produced only in his last years, this cobalt blue is perhaps the color he used least frequently over the length of his career. Maybe this was because it was not native to his adopted Mashiko village and not suited to the red clay typically used there. (Hamada is said to have first encountered the color on German ceramics he viewed while in Europe). Or it could be that Hamada avoided this blue as the salt glaze technique used to produce it is notoriously hard on kilns. Or perhaps Hamada preferred not to propose a blue of this kind while his colleague Kawai Kanjiro had such success with his famous gosu. Whatever the reason, Hamada used blue sparingly, though often very effectively as a bright accent on tea bowls or, even more rarely, alone on vases, such as this one in our favorite of Hamada’s molded forms.
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