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Creating unique plates by pressure casting
Ichiyo Touen
Chikara Mizuno
一洋陶園 水野 力
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Ichiyo Touen
Chikara Mizuno
670 Kawai, Izumi-cho, Toki-shi, 〒509-5101
TEL +81-572-55-2924
https://www.big-advance.site/c/137/2189
Ichiyo Touen.
Ichiyo Touen
From ashtray to plate. Capturing the trend of the times
This plate brings forth a nostalgic retro taste. An oval plate with cute dots on the rim. The simple design of these plates make one picture a family enjoying a meal. Ichiyo Touen was established in 1957. At that time, Minoyaki products were divided by region, such as rice bowls in Dachi-cho and Tokuri (sake server) in Oroshi-cho, and Izumi-cho, where Ichiyo Touen’s kiln is located, focused on Japanese teacups. Ichiyo Touen mainly produced ash trays by using a roller jiggering machine. However, the second generation, Hiroyuki, had taken a major turn. “Soon the trend will be producing Plates”, he said. Noticing the changing market, he began to use “pressure casting,” which was rare in Toki City. Pressure casting is a technique for molding a pottery by pouring liquid clay into a plaster mold, applying pressure with a machine, and then removing the mold. The benefit of this technique was that it can accurately produce complex shapes that cannot be made with a wheel. Ichiyo Touen has been dedicated to preserving this technique to this day.
Ichiyo Touen
Seeking a satisfactory combination of form, clay, and color
About 25 years ago, when the third generation Chikara joined the company, Minoyaki was at its downturn. With a sense of crisis over its dependence on distributing companies, the company embarked on manufacturing its own products, believing that it would not be able to survive unless it put its “uniqueness” to the forefront. “Neither my father nor I were satisfied with the current situation”. Chikara’s goal was to make the most of the pressure casting technique. Pottery has a wide range of expression. In addition to the various shapes obtained through pressure casting, the combination of clay and glaze can produce potteries of many textures and colors. The artisan comes up with an idea for either the shape or the color, and then decides on a concept to fit the shape he has in mind. He makes prototypes using the Tatara process and consults with a mold maker and glazier, respectively, in pursuit of the ideal shape and color. “All I have to do is tell them what I want to make, and I really appreciate the mold makers and glazers who help me shape it” says, Chikara. Four types of clay are used: red clay, black clay, white clay, and porcelain clay. Even when the same glaze is applied, different types of clay produce different shades of color. For example, black clay has a slightly sunken color, while porcelain clay has a crisp color. The glaze is changed for each type of clay, and test firing is repeated many times to ensure that the clay and the color match perfectly. There is no room for compromise. However, there is one thing he keeps in mind, which is the user. “I want to make novel pottery but what’s most important is ease of use” he says. He makes his dishes a little larger than ordinary household plates to make both serving and eating more comfortable. This is where his many years of experience in making dishes for commercial use comes into play.
Ichiyo Touen
Stylish designed plates that are fun to choose from
Ichiyo Touen’s pottery is so diverse that you may wonder if the same potter really made them. The design taste of each piece is different. Chikara’s rich creativity is apparent in his work. The “Cadre” series, characterized by its frame-like rim, is glazed with metallic or dull tones to give it an antique look. The “Rim Dot Plate,” as the name suggests, has small dotted patterns on the rim. The dots are arranged unevenly to create the warmth of handmade work. Also, the unevenness of the surface causes a difference in the way the glaze pools, and this is taken into account to create a difference in color. By doing so, he expresses a three-dimensional effect and a deep texture unique to clay. The interesting thing about pressure casting is that it can express not only a uniform shape, but also distortion as if it had been spun with a potter’s wheel. The “Wide Rim” series, in which the rim is warped on purpose, is a perfect example. The design, size, shape, and color of a plate can drastically change the impression of the food served on it. The user can enjoy the time spent thinking about what to serve on this plate.
Ichiyo Touen
Ichiyo Touen
Continuing to make Minoyaki for its preservation
Pressure casting is a process that requires a great deal of human labor, although it is thought to be capable of producing a large number of potteries at one time. First, clay is kneaded into a sludgy state to make a slurry in order to pour it into a plaster mold. When the plaster mold has absorbed the water and the clay has hardened, the pieces are removed from the mold one by one. After drying, the surface is polished, glazed, and fired. All of these processes are done by hand and require a great deal of time and skill on the part of the craftsman. At Ichiyo Touen, eight people are currently working diligently to maintain the techniques. The lack of successors and the shortage of raw materials are major issues for Minoyaki as a whole. “I think it is necessary to have a kiln that produces a certain amount like we do. When the pottery is made, it creates work for all the people involved. Therefore, I would like to continue making pottery as long as I can.” What we are focusing on now is improving our brand recognition. And we will continue to produce products that users want. There is no end to his ideas, including the creation of four to five new series every year. He also has in his mind a plan for direct sales, such as online and in-person sales and event openings. Brushing up his uniqueness and conveying his ideas. The challenge will continue to pave a new path for the future.
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