In this post I simply want to collect and present all the pieces of pottery that I hold in my private “collection” which are: traditional, Polish, utilitarian, genuine, produced by professional potters. They all have very specific forms, clay and glazes. Usually the old potters used practicing a few forms but they mastered it by thousands of repetitions. It is not only about the shape. By default they all have been produced for daily use. So they had to meet the practical expectations of users. To my knowledge there are still some traditional potters continuing their practice, but just few. There some places in Poland where most of the families settled in specific village practiced pottery. But currently, it is great deal to find there even one active potter. So this heritage pass away. It is sufficient motivation to collect photos. Here you are.
This is my fist attempt to use decals. I rather prefer rustic style in pottery and very utilitarian. I try to keep distance from any mass production products, Even the traditional pottery pieces (whether from porcelain or white clay) ornamented with very effective decals make me the feeling of low quality. Which is wrong! I know, some well known companies in England as well as in Poland (Cmielow for example) mastered the process of highest quality porcelain production with beautiful golden or colorful decals. All that is laid manually and fired at temperatures far higher than what we can achieve in home kilns. My surprise was that different cones are needed for gold and other colors. That means that the 3rd firing has to again split into cone019 and cone 017, so ineffective loads. However the end effect pays off. I very pleased to present the below pictures. Don’t be mislead, this is just one black set shot with different razors (still wonder which shall form the actual set). All decal come from Sanbao,clay is self wedged from various remainings, glaze comes from Wojtaszek (black, pigeon and wrzos plus some wood ash).
Butterfly on wood-ash
Entomologic shaving set in GOLD
Almost all goes for charity.
Some mugs are made from self composed clay in transparent and angobe.
Some others are cracked with sodium siliacate and then decorated with oxides (iron or cupper) and then glazed in transparent.
And regular mugs with mixed glazes.
Lathering sets and bowls
Sets of lathering bowls of different type plus brush handles or mugs.
Double-wall lathering set
Trials for beads
Trial to achieve the crocodile skin effect with angobe. Failded. The bowl cracked and the angobe has been overfired. However the handle and the bottle are fully ok.
John’s Beads and John’s Beads 2, both failed to achieve the expected effects of drops or crockodile skin.
My fist paddled piece .
Deeply impressed mugs
Something for the autumn. Mugs for hot tea. Impressed texture when still wet and then continued throwing on the wheel.
and some other pieces from the same firing:
October and November were mainly focused on preparations for the closure of the “Niepodległa” action that I started a year ago. As you may read in other posts, the goal was to release a set of custom-made pottery, a knife and a razor. I wanted to make (or rather encourage other makers to produce) a set of products matching one another and all under one umbrella of the national programme for “Niepodległa”. Bad news is that I didn’t manage to go this way and get all artefacts under single design but the good message is that all 3 products have been successful released.
The above 9/8 razor was designed by Rafał Lewandowski (nick Lewy, see LR logo on the neck) following the bests designs in the history. Although you cannot find the well-known CC logo on it, the blade itself was made by Sebastian Cichomski. This is another guarantee factor of the highest quality. Both colleagues can be met at knives.pl forum. The polishing and finishing, making the scales (oak and red G19) and the most appealing part – the engraved and painted flag with dates and the eagle, was all perfectly done by Lewy. It might be not that visible but the logo (multi passes of electric and chemical etching) is deep and really tree-dimentional. The red and white painting is very durable (kind of thermo-stablized paint used for bottle caps). At the end, the razor itself is not at all merely and exhibition artefact – it is very practical for daily use. Below you can see how this razor in action, recoreded by Pimps, namely Mariusz Sapeta.
What can I say more? I’m the humble owner of it. But I would be grateful if this is not a single piece but rather the first in a short series. In case you are interested in getting it, contact the maker or send me an email.
Pottery was the easiest to me, fully under my control. Once the final design of the razor showed up, I turned obvious that the ceramics shall follow the same color patter. This is how this set of rustic black (to resemble the facture of the black oak) with the red rounds and galleries came to real. I’m happy with the result – simple, practical and nice. In fact I made different handles, lathering bowls, AS bottle, a mug and even a candle holder. All that can be seen in different pictures below. All, except the duo-band brash which I use as my primary tool for daily shaving, has been given to charity. But will make more pieces in similar design.
Just few days prior the Independence Day, it came to me that the goal was to release also a knife. I have (almost) never made any knife myself (except 1 very practical guy made for myself during my scouting times, which by the way is still in use and fully operational). So, what could I do not having established any cooperation with knives makers? Fortunately, some 15 years ago, I bought raw blade on flea market that could be used as a starting point. It must have been the maker who sold it to me. I remember him selling quite a number of similar blades. But I have no clue who was the maker and if he operates until now. Until October I had been using the blade mainly for throwing – yes, lack of handle was the enabler for progressive learning of this unneeded skill. I found the blade the best candidate for quick make of a knife which can fit in the design to the ceramics and the razor, and still be fully useful (so called EDC category).
The above picture shows the final effect, when being used in the field. The below pictures document some phases of preparations: grinding, polishing, etching the logo, making the scales mounting the pin.
I have to add that the pin is excellent. It was bought from one of the eshops in Poland but was produced by Alexey Balatsky who takes the orders also directly and is very cooperative.
I wanted to have the blade looking aggressive therefore decided to make satin finish for tang and spine but leave glossy hollow.
The knife has been made just for my private use. No plans to make more. Honestly, it still requires some perfections.
Porcelain scales for razor
In the beginning of December 2018 I published a short story about my attempts to make scales for razor from marbled porcelain. See the article here describing all the challenges and difficulties for making the scales plain and at the exact dimensions regardless the double firing and shrinking. Most likely, it is more fascinating for potters than razor makers. This part is more for the latter group.
Finaly, I have finished with that razor, so I can present complete set (there is another member – marbled mug but I do not use it for shaving).
I admit, there are thousands of nicer razors and more practical, and less expensive (if someone would try to estimate costs for commercial quotations). My motivation was different. First, I wanted to have nice private set for shaving. This is obvious. But the leading motif is about the challenge and experimentation. I consider traditional shaving as extravagance itself. So why not to get into development of something which is made against rules and gives fun.
So, what is so special about this razor? What is against the rules? “Normal” typical razor scales are flexible, they bend and lean while moving the blade in the pivot. It is a simple mechanism to centre the blade while putting it safely in between scales and also to block it “half-open” to not flap accidentally and unintentionally. Here, the porcelain scales are stiff and not flexible at all. This fact pushed me to the idea to transfer flexibility into other elements of the razor. I decided to make the wedge elastic and mount the pivot pin with spring washer (self made). That also resulted in lack of bottom pin, which would make the whole construction again not flexible at all. The result is very satisfying. The blade centres nicely, the wedge keeps both scales integrated, the balance between smooth movement of blade and resistance is “regular”, the blade can stop steady in half-way, the blade can be opened at any angle.
Another positive surprise is that, regardless the depth of the scales, it is not heavy. The sales do not overweight the blade when manoeuvring in open.
I must admit that in the beginning I was afraid of the risk of breaking the scales. So, I kept the depth dimension of the sales quite big. It is that smooth-thin as in many plastic scales. I watched carefully when hammering the pin (it is not any prefabricated pin but a regular steel rod with washers). But then later overlooked my son who wanted to follow me in pinning and was hammering the scales, not the pin. It survived with no damages. Now I can regret that I did not flatten the scales more. Maybe, some time later….in future.
Japan makes the difference
Europeans often get fascinated by Japanese culture, tradition and spiritual approach to almost everything. My fascinations went by after getting deeper and deeper in one of the martial arts discipline, knowing the people and the underlining believes.
Now, it comes back in context of craftship – in ceramics and smith works. Ferrytales about Anagama firing and sword’s making are longs stories each, worth separate post if not portals.
For the moment take a look a the following two specific razors. Both designed Ryūichi Saitō. Read more on him and the 3 “smiling” models designed by him. At first glamps, those who are in the subject of traditional wet shaving, can see how deep is the “smile”. It may make sense. For experimentation with it, please wait a bit until they are renovated. I plan to record a sessions of honing it and using them.
Here is what came to me recently from Japan. No 1 and No 3, only 2 is missiong to the collection. Not bad conditions, nevertheless they deserve some refreshment if not renovation.
And here is an attempt to match other elements of the shaving gear set to the No 3. The bell and the brush handle made with porcelain mixed in the body with Ochra terracolor pigment, fired at 1250°C.
This time the bell is running, precisely the glaze runs down. This is because the thickness of the glaze (especially on the rim) and firing it upside down. I need to rethink how to place it differently in the kiln. C930@1250C with Light Blue.