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Pottery zisha clay

First pitiful zisha teapot

As promised, the result of my first attempt at making a Yixing zisha teapot.

I made this pot together with my wife, and although the result is rather unsophisticated and ugly, making it was loads of fun. As you can see, just knowing how it’s done is not enough to make a beautiful teapot and it takes years of practice before ones objects reach a sell-able level. The teapot has not been burnt yet which is when most pots show their flaws and crack, especially if they are made by amateurs like me.

If this one survives the oven and still holds the tea afterwards we shall keep it despite its appearance. We made the pot in one of the workshops where local artists teach students their craft and I might well write about those workshops in more detail another time. If  looking at the pictures in this post hurts your aesthetic perception try the shopping links on the right hand side. The pictures in there are easier on the eyes.

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craftsmanship Pottery zisha clay

How zisha clay teapots are made [part 3]

After having given the pot some rest we are now ready to continue where we left off.

Since our pot is still completely closed and has neither nozzle nor handle it is now time to attach them. Holes are punched which later allow the tea to pour out as well as hold back the leaves. The prepared nozzle is placed over the newly punched holes and aligned with the handle.

A bit smoothing out the edges and corners, looks good.

Now, all that is left to be done is to cut where the lid will go and to remove excess material.

The tool to cut out the hole for the lid can later be used to cut a piece for the lid itself which will fit exactly. Our pot is ready, it just needs to dry out for a while and off it goes to the oven.

I hope you enjoyed reading about how to make a zisha teapot. The hands in these last posts are not mine and neither is the pot, so in one of the next posts I will show you how a teapot looks like if one already knows how its done but is as clumsy as myself 😉
Stay tuned to see the result of my first pitiful attempt at making a zisha clay teapot.

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craftsmanship Pottery zisha clay

How zisha clay teapots are made [part 2]

In the last post I showed you the tools used to make zisha teapots, now I’d like to give some impressions how that is actually done. It of course all starts with a piece of zisha clay, also known as purple clay which is portioned. For most classic teapots at first two pieces are flattened and shaped, one will become the teapots wall and the other the bottom.

In the next steps the wall and bottom pieces are aligned and brought together and soon thereafter the individual shaping starts. Whilst the pot is rotating the wall is supported with one hand from inside whilst shaped by continuous hits with a paddle from the outside. The paddling is also what keeps the momentum of the potter’s wheel.

Additional pieces are used to close the pot and add material, some of which is cut out again in a later stage to make the lid.

The closed pot is left to rest for a while to let it dry a bit.
This increases stability before additional parts like the nozzle and handle are attached, …

…but more on that in my next post.

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craftsmanship Pottery zisha clay

How zisha clay teapots are made [part 1]

Handmade zisha clay teapots (chinese: 紫砂壶) made in the region of Yixing are well known for their simplicity and exquisite craftsmanship. In this and the following posts I like to write a bit about how they are made. Most of the famous Yixing pottery is made in studios and workshops right in the pottery market or Dingshan and surrounding villages, all located a bit south of Yixing city and the tools used to make the pots haven’t changed much in centuries, Tools used to make zisha clay pots
at the most the material used to make some of the tools has evolved a bit.

Tools used to make zisha clay pots
The tools are still simple, the sophistication lies in the skills to use them.

Tools used to make zisha clay pots

If you are interested in authentic handmade Yixing pottery but can not afford to buy a piece of an established artist there, you can try to find studios where the master accepted students. They would be happy and proud to make a sale and you probably get a chance to watch too. For all who can’t visit the pottery market in person but still want to see how those tools are used make sure you don’t miss my next post.

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Bi Luo Chun Pottery tea tourism zisha clay

Yixing is truly the chinese pottery capital

To get a few impressions have a look at this video. I hope you enjoy it.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITnZ1fbTKFM&rel=0&w=480&h=385]
For all of you who can’t visit this beautiful city and its famous pottery market
you can find some interesting links on the right hand side.

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