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How Do I Choose the Best Raku Pottery?

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  • Written By: Mark Wollacott
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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Choosing the best raku pottery requires a lot of good research and a good deal of luck. There is a very clear reason for this: the point of raku pottery is that every product is handmade and purposefully designed to be unique. Most differences, however, are often slight — a change in shape, different patterns or glazing techniques —, so if you find a pot style you like, it is worth looking for more pots by the same potter or made with similar techniques. Choosing the best raku pottery is about finding pieces that complement each other or have such mild variations that the casual observer will not notice them.

You will need to know what you are looking for, but there is a good chance you will have to arrange a personal commission with a local or international raku potter. Raku pottery is a traditional Japanese form that developed in the 1500s out of principles exported to Japan from Korea in the first millennium AD. The pottery has a glazed look to it and is usually used in tea ceremonies across Japan, but can be used for other drinks or soups if you so desire.

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Shopping for raku pottery is very different from shopping for many other types of pottery, ceramics or tableware because the potters make sure each piece is distinctive. While you can still compare prices from one retailer or seller to another, you will not be buying exact replicas. Not only that, but the pottery will be one-offs that, if not bought, will not be replicated without a commission.

While the vast majority of Japanese raku ware comes in the form of tea ceremony cups, Western produces have expanded the techniques and principles to make other pottery. If you want a unique-looking vase or bowl, it is also possible to find raku pottery in America and Europe, too. These pieces will vary in color and style so you should find the one that suits you or the room you want to display it in.

If you are looking for a more traditional raku cup, then consider looking for Japanese exporters or Western importers. Due to the language barrier, it might be difficult to go directly to the potter in Japan, but there are means of getting hold of simple traditional wares. Bear in mind that in doing so, the already expensive Japanese raku pottery will become a lot dearer.

When buying a number of the same type of raku pottery, consider the basic variations that can occur. Many potters often change certain variables from pot to pot or batch to batch. You could, for example, commission a series of pots or cups with different glazes from wax to copper. Consider also pots with areas that have not been glazed. By doing this, you will be choosing the best selection of pots while keeping to the principle of variation esteemed in raku.

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