Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Wood-Fired Teaware by Petr Novák

A package from the Czech Republic arrived at my door recently containing the wares I had ordered but a week previously from Petr Novák, a potter and tea enthusiast who has combined the two interests to create beautiful wood-fired teaware out of his kiln in, you guessed it, the Czech Republic.

Having recently started exploring tea away from the tea board (or tea sink, tea tray, tea boat, or any number of other terms) and enjoying the increased flexibility this affords me, I picked up this bowl and vase as well as a cup to add to my modest collection of tea wares.

The ribs which circle the outside of the vase are slightly unevenly spaced, betraying its handmade origins and adding interest to the piece (while the cup and bowl are by Petr, the vase is by Mirka and has the stamp "MR" on its underside). The texture is very rough, especially between the ribs, but the base is well made and the vase doesn't wobble. While the inside is glazed to avoid leaks, the clay on the outside appears bare. I'm not sure whether this piece was charcoal glazed or not to achieve its dark colour, but in any case the way the dark colour anchors the gaze and provides a stable and interesting root without drawing too much attention away from the flowers it's meant to display pleases me.

The bowl is similarly well made, with an even shape that highlights its finish. The glaze is off-white, thick, and bumpy on one side, gradually thinning and letting a carroty orange come through on the other side. Crackling in the glaze is most obvious where it's thinnest and will eventually accumulate seasoning as it's used, increasing contrast and slowly transforming the piece.

The cup comfortably holds a full infusion from the teapot pictured in this post (about 90ml) which cools to a drinkable temperature at a similarly comfortable speed thanks to its thin walls. The glaze covers the inside and extends to just over the rim, allowing its holder to feel and admire the clay from which it was made while providing a smooth surface from which to drink. The colour of the inside glaze is an off-white with a slight olive tint, attractively showing off the colour of darker oolongs such as the charcoal roasted Anxi tieguanyin I drank from it today. Intricate swirls of various translucent shades trickle down into the bottom of the cup from the rim; a treat for the inquisitive observer.  The wood firing has caused the bare clay to become a significantly darker shade of orange-brown than the other, obscuring the small stones dotted throughout the clay.

A beautiful and functional set of wares, you can bet these will be featuring in future posts.

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