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Shino Glaze

Shino images by Helen Martin, see more from Helen here.
Shino is a glaze that originated in 16th century Japan and has been
greatly valued by the Tea Ceremony masters ever since.

Shino Glaze Pot

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In its American reincarnation, it is sometimes called the glaze of a thousand faces, since it can emerge from the kiln in many different looks, colors and textures. On the rare occasion, when everything is just right, Shino is breathtaking. However this glaze is finicky, it can also be unimpressive, if not downright ugly.

Shino glaze 8

Shino is a thick white glaze made from nearly one hundred percent feldspar. Additions of ash may be used as a flux. It can pinhole and crawl a great deal. To the Western eye, it often appears as a thick frosting, and is not generally considered beautiful, but to the tea masters, a glaze such as Shino with its uncontrollable pin holing and crawling is considered beautiful and pleasing.

Ranging in color from soft white to pink to dark orange or iron red, American Shinos descended from the Wirt originals which are typically shinier with smaller imperfections on the surface. Color is greatly affected by the underlying clay body. White stonewares and porcelain give lustrous pinks to light orange. Iron-bearing clays will deepen the color dramatically. Iron washes brushed onto the pot's surface will burn through the glaze and leave a strong pattern.

Because this glaze melts early and its surface is soft, it is possible to trap carbon in the melt. When to reduce seems to be the critical element in obtaining the black or gray streaks and spots that distinguish American Shino. Most potters begin reduction at about Cone 011 or around 1650°F.

Below are some close up pictures of different colors and textures of Shino glaze.

Shino glaze 2 Shino glaze 3 Shino glaze 4

Shino glaze 5 Shino glaze 6

Soda ash, sodium carbonate is the ingredient responsible for this early melt. When present in sufficient amounts, the soda ash migrates to the surface of the pot and forms salt like crystals. Some pottery workers have taken this concept a step further by brushing a heated solution of soda ash and water directly onto the pot, which enhances the carbon trapping, resulting in deep blacks. They were influenced by experiments that some pottery workers out in Oregon had done involving placing pots to soak overnight in a solution of water, soda ash and salt. When wood fired in a anagama kiln to Cone 14, these pots were a rich deep red to pink in color. Below is a diagram of this type of kiln.

Shino glaze 7

Anagama kiln
Stacking floor made of silica sand.
Refractory arch

To determine when to begin reduction, place a Cone 010 at the end of your cone pack, adding a small depression to catch the melting cone. About forty minutes of reduction is necessary to achieve good carbon trapping. Close the damper slightly, close down your primary air source, and add small pieces of wood to the chamber. Back pressure sends a light cloud of carbon into the room. Very good ventilation is necessary at this phase; do not stay in the kiln room during early reduction.

Shino is sensitive to about anything one could think about. The way the glaze is mixed and applied, the duration of the drying process, the humidity, temperature and air movement around the drying pots, the way it is fired, the weather during firing, all this and everything else affects the results. Sometimes a cross look or an impure thought causes a kiln load of pots to be turned into landfill material. Just kiddin, but sounds good!!!!!

Shino glaze 9

Shino glazing is challenging and exciting; there is nothing like opening a just fired kiln and finding out whether the kiln gods are smiling or frowning at you. There is no consistency and predictability, or as a noted Shino potter claims, "Shino is not for the fainthearted".

I love it!!!!!

Shino glaze 11 Shino glaze 10

There is a page under


that tells about the kiln gods, what they look like, how they are used and what they do.

If I keep a green bough in my heart, then a singing bird will come.

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Have you ever come up with a good idea while working with your handmade pottery and thought that you would like to share it with others? You have? Well, why not send it to us and we will add it to the tips page for all to see.

Handmade pottery can be a very gratifying hobby that produces fun and satisfying results. For many people it's an enjoyable release that is created by working an inanimate mound of clay into a beautiful work of art that you made through your artistic abilities.

The best way of starting out is to take a few lessons from Youtube. You will probably waste quite a bit in materials when you first get started. Figuring out how to truly make handmade pottery correctly and shape into what you want it to be can be quite an ordeal. The different tools that a normal shop will have can be fun to try. You will soon see which ones you like to use the most and then when you are ready you will know which ones to buy.

With the help of the internet, you can now purchase most if not all of your ceramic and pottery tools and supplies online. We are located far from any well supplied dealers and yet working with reliable ceramic and pottery suppliers online has allowed us to recieve most of our orders within a timely manner.

When you get all set up, just enjoy the hobby and have fun at it. Some people get pretty serious and start selling their creations at craft fairs and small stores, but others just like to create items for themselves, relatives, and friends. Whichever kind of handmade pottery you desire to endeavor, enjoy the hobby and have fun doing it.

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