We had been to Shussai-gama before on a previous trip to Shimane and actually bought a couple of very small ceramic items. This time we went specifically to see a small exhibition of Yanagi Sori and in the spirit of wabi sabi picked out a teapot with a slight bubble in the glaze, at a really good price. Wabi sabi comes from Buddhist teachings and is, put simply, beauty found in imperfection or incompleteness. As part of the exhibition, they were showing the techniques used to produce our teapot in a short video and I was fascinated because I had never seen a ceramic item cast in a mold before. I think the result is a nice aesthetic blend of industrial and hand-made. More about this teapot soon as it is still making its way to London (with a few other ceramic items picked out from Shussai-gama. Along with a different teapot, made of iron!).
While we had visited the shop and cafe before, we had never ventured next-door, into the workshops and kiln areas where the products are brought to life by an incredible team of master-potters. It was exciting to walk between the bamboo racks of works in progress, and really interesting to watch people, in their own perfectly formed work-spaces, creating such elegant forms with such ease. In design you often read about ‘perfection through repetition’ and this is most evident in this kind of workshop. If you think about the 10,000 hour rule (they say it takes 10 years of practicing 3 hours a day to become a master in your subject), these guys must far far exceed this level and it shows in the way they work, and in the end results.