Polish version

After several years of fascinating journey with pottery I have noticed that majority of my trials, experiments and finally artefacts is addressed to the narrow community devoted to traditional shaving (TS). This page documents my approach, scope of works and specificity of ceramics for barbers.

The leading theme and key value of TS gear is “fit for use”. If something is not comfortable for daily use it gets rejected by users immediately. I have the pleasure to keep in touch with the users and benefit from their guidance and criticism, not mentioning that I use it daily as well. Many factors affect the level of practicality of the artefacts. For example: type of shaving (hot/cold), method of lathering, type and length of the brushing knot, size of the palm, types of cosmetics. Sometimes the selection of the form and finishing depends on the other TS artefacts already possessed by the end user e.g. unique historical razor.

Selection of the clay, size and form, surface finishing firing method are extremely important but secondary to the practicality of the artefacts. With the variety of the users’ preferences it ends in use of various techniques and materials. Limiting myself to a single pottery “style” would be detrimental.

The below photos present wide variety of utilitarian concepts. It is not possible to address the nuances of traditional shaving in this article, self practice seems necessary to appreciate or contest different designs. Some of the considerations have been presented in the other article TeGe miski. To cover all, the reader shall refer to TS forums (see links below). In addition, many new designs and ideas materialized since then. New surfaces, new forms, new sets. The article documents just flagship ideas. Some of them are new to TS community e.g. my transition of butter bell into shaving bell.

This subject gives a lot of space to potters for their creativity.

Porcelain set. Delicate marbling effect based on colouring the porcelain with stains. The lid of the lathering bowl serves as a container for the soap. If the refill size fits it or the soap is soft, it keeps firmly when the lit is upside down in the bowl itself.
Blue-white porcelain marble set composed of: Japanese razor, badger brush, AS bottle, shaving bell lathering bowl and soap container (reuse of butter bell concept). The most technically advance piece of the set is the razor, in fact the porcelain scales. The challenge was to make it fully useful for daily shaving. There’ve been several issues to solve: target dimensions versus shrinking, ideal plain surface versus bending in firing, drilling the wholes for pins, and finally adding flexibility to the whole construction to achieve self-centring of the blade between scales.
The simplest form of the lathering bowl. No handles. But simple is not contrary to the beauty.
Sometimes the key expectation is to save space in the user’s bathroom. The hereby picture illustrates one of the approaches that I applied to combine brush, bowl and brush stand. All is nicely fitted and provides ventilation for proper drying of the bowl and the brush.
The same set as above. The crocodile-like surface of the bowl is the key achievement for me. I tried several off-the-shelf glazes of this type without success in high temperatures. Here’s my own combination based John Bead’s recipe modified and tried several times.
Some works target specific events. The above one was prepared for 100th anniversary of regaining Poland’s independency. The form and colours of the ceramic followed the design of the straight razor which was designed and made specifically for this event.
This batch of mugs and brush handles were designed and made in coordination with the Bureau of the “Niepodlegla” Programme and official acceptance of the proper ministry. More can be read in here. There are 2 types of mugs and 2 types of handles, all porcelain.
The entomologic stoneware set. The bugs are in real gold on black glossy glaze. All elements inspired and fit the rare and appreciated type of Japanese “straight” razor – Saito SK1.

Hot shaving

Fans of traditional shaving, as well as barbers, appreciate hot shaving for its quality and comfort. This cannot be replace by cold shaving, especially with use of dispenser’s made lather. Historically, there have been several designs assuring this effect. One of them is double-wall scutle which keeps hot water inside and warms up the lather. The above set is thrown from stoneware clay and the glaze is home made combination of various commercial glazed with some additives.
The most famous shape of historical shaving mugs is like in the photo above. They are used rather for soaking the brush and then storing the lather and the brush in between passes. In that case the lather is being made on the face. These mugs are made by me but similar ones are still being offered by large pottery manufactures e.g. Cmielow.

Storage boxes

My favourite box for storing my daily shaving soap
TS fans face a problem. It is hard to avoid the temptation to try another shaving soap. The best soaps and shaving creams come expensive. The great part of the cost goes for nice box (e.g. wooden or porcelit skull). Therefore users tend to buy refills without any boxes. Those need to be stored somehow, still not occupying too much space. The above is one of my attempts – a kind of multilayer pagoda.
Here is another example of storage box – nigra stoneware.
Whether this cup will be used for extra large coffee or lathering depends on the owner. Due to its size, form and texture, both purpose are perfectly feasible.
The above pinholing effect would be considered in the “normal” pottery is a crap. The uneven surface in this case is welcome by TS community, if not required. It supports lathering as well as handling of the brush. The brush handle itself requires careful design to assure firm grip, intended diameter of the knot and stopping the lather from reaching user’s hand.
Along time I noticed that I apply six different types of handles. They are different from typical handles used in mugs. The one seen in the above photo is mounted diagonally so the user may keep the bowl in the hand and block it in safe way on the thumb. It turns important for wet bowls and depends on the size of the user’s palm.

ontrary to regular ceramic bowls what counts in TS is uneven internal surface to speed the lathering. This is the source for investigation and discovering various solutions which are not welcome in typical pottery: inside chattering, spiral engraving, fluting, crocodile glaze etc.
Sometimes the desired internal surface is achieved without glazing. In the above example all different tricks (fluting curving, chattering) are applied without glazing. The matte surface comes from application of angobe (3 different Amaco velvets in this case).
As in the previous picture, here I applied angobe. This time to stress out its external facture of intended crack. This helps in firm holding a wet bowl in sinle hand whan lathering.
The internal facture is based on deep curving, then glazed.
Retro style, resembling old enamel crockery.
There is a lot to be said about brushes and its handles. This is quite broad subject with the following technical dimensions: overall size, diameter of the knot, length of the knot in relation to the depth of the bowl, bottom of the handle versus extra stand for drying, stopping the lather from leaking onto the hand and others. Then aesthetics comes on top of technical features. Here is an example of porcelain nerikomi.
The bowls thrown on the pottery wheel seem to be the best. However, it happens that it happens that other technique comes better for certain purposes. Here comes nerikomi again – the bowl is build from patters of colored porcelain to create this fresh-holidays-like style. The handle of the brush is built of porcelain and a raw wood.
Sometimes the stile of ceramics follows the design of the razor. This set comes in ocean deep blue colors and the handle mimics whale fins to match the Whaler 67 razor.
There as many tastes and prefreences as users of TS. Some of them are ok with plastic, some prefer wood, some tend to use metal while small group look for high-end ceramic. This final group is also also divided into subgroups, starting from delicate translucent porcelain while ending in thick stoneware as in the photo above and below.
what about car funs?
a bit of steam punk

Finally I would like to share with you typical dilemma. Cichy (Cichy Custom Art) made beautiful and handy razor, of very specific finish. I call it frankly “stove lid”. It deserves proper companion. Hence the question is – what material shall be used, what form would fit it, what glaze and finished would be the best. I tend to think about ash glazes but that requires specific wooden stove….