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What clay to use for making yixing teapots and cups?


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#1 podgen

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 06:06 PM

What kind of clay should I be using to make Yixing ware?
It looks like they usually use a dark brown clay.
Does it have to be dark brown or could I use white?
Also, it looks like the clay is pretty smooth (not a lot of grog or sand?) but the dark brown clays I find seem to all have grog/sand.

#2 JBaymore

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 06:19 PM

Yixing wares are made for very special clays (zisha) that are located in the area the potters work. There are a number of specific types of clay ...some darker and some lighter. Some almost green.

I think what you might mean is making Yixing looking pieces?

Here's some links to some Yixing raw clays image info. Notice all the raw colors. Each fires differently. Lat link is to a blog:


http://teaandpottery...0-dicaoqing.jpg
http://teaandpottery...inziheixing.jpg
http://teaandpottery...gqingshuini.jpg
http://teaandpottery...0-pinzi40mu.jpg
http://teaandpottery...angjinzhima.jpg
http://teaandpottery...-singshuini.jpg
http://teaandpottery...iangnanyise.jpg
http://teaandpottery...600-tezipin.jpg
http://teaandpottery...huangduanni.jpg
http://teaandpottery...iangnanyise.jpg
http://teaandpottery...angjinzhima.jpg
http://teaandpottery...00-xinpinzi.jpg
http://teaandpottery...0-laoduanni.jpg
http://teaandpottery...0-zaohongni.jpg
http://teaandpottery...00-laopinzi.jpg
http://teaandpottery...gqingshuini.jpg
http://teaandpottery...-longxuesha.jpg
http://teaandpottery...iqingshuini.jpg
http://teaandpottery...600-meihong.jpg
http://teaandpottery.../07/zeitzeugen/

best,

..................john
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#3 podgen

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 06:34 PM

I think what you might mean is making Yixing looking pieces?

Perhaps partially. Part of the idea though is that they are not glazed (at least on the inside) so that the tea soaks in or stains the item and imparts a lasting flavor or something like that.

#4 JBaymore

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 07:57 PM

If you are looking for the qualities that true zisha clays are supposed to impart to the water chemitry for the brewing of tea, real Yixing tea people will tell you that you cannot duplicate the real thing. They will say that they can tell the difference in taste between brewing in one clay and another. Cheap commercial Yixing pots supposedly do not have the same qualities in this regard as do "the real thing".

You might want to reasearch this on tea drinking sites so that you understand what you are looking for.

best,

..............john
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#5 podgen

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 11:02 PM

If you are looking for the qualities that true zisha clays are supposed to impart to the water chemitry for the brewing of tea, real Yixing tea people will tell you that you cannot duplicate the real thing. They will say that they can tell the difference in taste between brewing in one clay and another. Cheap commercial Yixing pots supposedly do not have the same qualities in this regard as do "the real thing".

You might want to reasearch this on tea drinking sites so that you understand what you are looking for.

best,

..............john


I didn't look there first because most of what you find there has to do with the use of things. I haven't seen too much about the manufacture on there, though and a lot of them don't understand it. There's a lot of mysticism and discussion of things like "authenticity" of the tea pots. People talking about how the different shape of the tea pot in which the tea is brewed in imparts a different flavor to the tea... I guess you know about this as you talked about "the real thing"

I see you've been there too.

Anyway, I found one thing that talks about purple clay, red clay, and green clay. Looks like you actually posted on that thread.

I'm going to assume having special clay from a certain area of China doesn't matter. But I'd like to use clay with similar properties that is hopefully less expensive to purchase here in the USA than importing special clay from overseas.

I'm sure you already know all about this, but in case anyone else here reads this and is curious, I wanted to find a link that explained the general concept. I couldn't find any good text, so I found this video and I'll type a small part of it out:

this clay that is used to make this pot is not glazed. So what it is, it is very porous inside and it has nothing to protect the actual clay, so when you make the tea in these pots, the pot will absorb the flavor of the tea and then over time, it then enhances the flavor of the tea. So, typically, tea connoisseurs and tea experts will choose one tea that they're going to use to make out of that pot.

And then you're supposed to never wash the item with soap or scrubbing, you just rinse it out and it builds up a patina of tea residue that contributes positively to future brewings. I tried this before with a glazed cup, but the tea patina would flake off sometimes. So I'll have to try it again with my own "fake" yixing items that are unglazed or unglazed on the inside.

John, have you used any of these "special" clays? If so, can you tell me anything about their properties? Or where to source some of the "real thing" so I can price it or decide if I really have to try some out? Thanks

#6 GEP

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 12:58 PM

Chinese Clay Art sells yixing clays online:
http://chineseclayar...e_materials.asp

I once bought a small amount of their black yixing clay. Although they call it "cone 6" clay, it bloated badly at cone 6. It was much better at cone 4.

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#7 JBaymore

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 12:23 PM

GEP already gave you the only US source that I know of. My focus is more on Japanese teawares than Chinese.

And yes, I am involved in the "tea" world a bit Posted Image .

One thing to think about from your comments:

"I didn't look there first because most of what you find there has to do with the use of things. I haven't seen too much about the manufacture on there, though and a lot of them don't understand it. There's a lot of mysticism and discussion of things like "authenticity" of the tea pots. People talking about how the different shape of the tea pot in which the tea is brewed in imparts a different flavor to the tea... I guess you know about this as you talked about "the real thing" "

Those people are the "market" for the works we produce. And understanding the use of the object, and the factors that are important to the end-user is a first step into producing good objects for that use. So there is a lot to be learned by listening to the "tea people". They don;t nweed to know how to make it, they know how to USE it.

And you can't really discount the "mysticism" that is sometimes involved. Even if the scientific facts can't be proven, the beliefs are there in the tea people. And in many cases the "mysticism" reall is based on actual real-world things that do happen, but are not clearly understood or studied due to the narrow market segment and lack of general interest.

best,

...............john
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#8 SFLouis

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 02:27 AM

Who, pray tell, are you to say that different shapes and sizes and clays do not affect the flavor of the tea produced? Clearly, you do not drink good tea and you don't have an interest in it. If you did, then you would know better than to say something like that. Furthermore, if you are not yourself a tea drinker, why do you want to bother to produce teaware? Teaware made by american ceramic artists who don't even drink tea is invariably bad teaware. I know because I have seen plenty of it. When the maker doesn't understand or care for the purpose of the object he or she is making, then the resulting work will not be suited to that purpose.

I am one of these "tea people" you speak of. I came across your post during a random google search and then I joined this forum specifically so I could reply to you, because I am kind of offended by some of the things you said.

A lot of the current thought about the effect of different clays on tea has to do with the mineral content of the clays, especially certain iron compounds. This can be affected by the natural content of the raw clay, but also by the firing method. Japanese banko ware artists create purple clay by starting with red clay, firing it, and then reduction firing it. I don't know if Yixing artists use this type of method in particular, but they have many, many different firing methods that produce many different results. Google "yao bian" to see examples of my current favorite firing method. Various methods similar to this can produce varying proportions of Fe+2 and Fe+3 and other things which later affect the water chemistry when tea is brewed. It is very difficult to find published studies about this sort of thing since they wouldn't be in English anyway, but what I am saying is that the presence of some mineral compounds in the right amounts will have an effect on the solubility of some flavor oils in water. The interior surface of purple yixing pots in particular are often very porous so that their surface area is many times larger than the dimensions of the pot. Because of the large surface area, the reaction speed is greatly accelerated for any catalytic reactions that may be affecting the chemical properties of the water and, by proxy, the tea.

For a similar reason, it has become a popular practice among tea drinkers in china and elsewhere to use a Japanese tetsubin kettle to boil the water. We do this because tetsubins are made of rough cast iron with no protective coating. They are only steam baked to prevent rust. The accumulation of mineral scale from repeated use helps protect the iron too. Boiling water in a tetsubin actually adds iron to the water and this affects the flavor of the water directly in addition to it's effect on the solubility of flavor oils in said water.

To your credit, I don't think that there is necessarily anything all that special about the clay from Yixing, at least not before it's processed. It comes in different colors, each with different mineral content, but all with a lot of silica/mica and iron compounds. However, the processing that has traditionally been involved to create such a porous inner surface is extremely painstaking and it has changed a great deal since 1959 when the process was first automated to include machines that could crush the clay ore to a much finer grain. Originally, it was all done by hard physical labor, pounding the clay with mallets in a hollowed out tree trunk, etc. see http://terebess.hu/e...sh/yixing1.html for the beginning of a great summary of 500 years of history of the art you seem to think you can imitate.

I recommend you get a look at a book called "The Art of the Yixing Potter". It is a large and beautiful but sadly out of print book that has hundreds of very large detailed photographs of many very old, artistically significant, and famous Yixing teapots from the collection of the K.S. Lo Museum in Hong Kong. It is a rare example of a book on this subject whose text is in both English and Chinese. This book also contains probably the most factual account of the history of tea that may be found in english, citing scholarly translations of very old chinese texts about how tea was cultivated, prepared, and consumed in different ways throughout different periods in history. I have a copy and I will be happy to show it to you if ever you find yourself in San Francisco.

I recommend you look at what ceramic artists are doing with teaware in Japan, Taiwan, and Malaysia, because these places all have strong tea cultures.

Finally, I recommend you watch this video of an Yixing master demonstrating some of what he does for a British audience: http://www.essenceoftea.co.uk/blog

#9 JBaymore

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 09:14 AM

SFLouis,

Welcome to the forums.

Man...... what a rant! I suggest you actually take the time and effort to read and understand all that I wrote above in this thread. Other than the assumptions about me that you make, most of the points you make in your first paragraph are exactly the same points I am making.

I'll let my ceramic technical and Japanese culture and tea understanding background sit as is, thanks. No reason to post any extensive "justifications" for my background or understanding.... most reading things here know. They are all quite decent and I'm comfortable with it all. Oh,..... I am VERY well aware of what many Japanese ceramists are doing with teawares ;) .

Although I am always a student and constantly learning.

You are, of course, entitled to you opinion. Although I think you seriously misread my intent. I am sorry that you are apprently offended by a broad, open minded view that covers all possibilities.

I agree with you totally that there is a LOT of bad teaware being produced by many potters who really don't understand tea. Pet peeve of mine. My main focus on this subject is specifically for Chado.

BTW..... I own that book you mention... and many others. 日本語が話せます。

As to drinking good tea myself....... I'm actually sipping a very nice sencha at the moment that I picked up in Uji a couple of months ago.... first flush brewed at 140 F in a Kanayamayaki woodfired unglazed kyusu.............. and am waiting for a package of some top quality Uji Matcha to arrive for the Chakai I'm hosting in exactly a week.

best,

..........................john
John Baymore
Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

http://www.JohnBaymore.com

#10 Denice

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 10:37 AM

If SFLouis was a potter he would know that potters like to make teapots because they are more challenging and interesting. You have to make all the components work well and look good together. The first teapot I made was yixing style in 1975, the professor gave us the clay to use, I'm sure it wasn't anything special, I was a newbie and didn't have much to do with clay selection or firing. I still have that teapot, never have used it I'm not a tea drinker but I still love making nonfunctional and functional teapots. Denice

#11 OffCenter

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 10:40 AM

I've got to say this is the most interesting thread I've seen here in a while. I'm staying tuned to this channel. Thanks GEP for the link. I wish I had learned about it sooner. Any way to get shigaraki clay? No intention of making chawans, mizusashis, etc., I just like the look and feel of the clay (I've only felt it fired, not wet) and want to make a few bottles out of it for next anagama firing. BTW, podgen and SFLouis check out http://issuu.com/cav...Color=%23222222

Jim
E pur si muove.

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#12 Chris Campbell

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 11:43 AM

I don't know,enough about the topic of teas and teapots to add to the conversation BUT I want to thank you for the link.

>Finally, I recommend you watch this video of an Yixing master demonstrating some of what he does for a British audience: http://www.essenceoftea.co.uk/blog

This is quite simply the best and most elegant hand building demo I have ever seen. No matter what stage of hand building you are in, watch this carefully and learn .... Every move he makes is meant to impart information to the clay .... Just watching him create a flat, smooth slab is amazing.
It is long but I will be watching it several more times.

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#13 JBaymore

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 01:00 PM

Any way to get shigaraki clay?


Jim,

I am assuming that you are talking about the Shigaraki clay with all the little pieces of granular feldspar and quartz?

It is called Kinose .... and is VERY precious now (Yesssssss....... My Precious! ;) ). According to the Shigaraki potters I have visited and talked to, it is growing scarse. It can be found if you are IN Japan in some clay supplier places.... but the really good stuff is not usually available from the commercial suppliers outside of Shigaraki iteslf. The best Kinose is "a protected species" B) .

To give you an idea of the likely price for "the good clays" in Japan, I can give you a current example. I just was checking on getting some of the Shino ware clay body for some coming Chawan. This is a commercial preparation from a supplier.... not some local potter hand processing this clay.... and the price for 20 Kilos (2.2 pounds per Kilo.... about 44 pounds) is 6100 円 (Yen)................. which at he moment is about $83.00 US at the current exchange rate you'd actually get (not the commercial bank rate). And that is the price IN Japan..... shipping 20 Kilos to the US will about double that. (Note that not all "Shigaraki Clay" you might see advertised is Kinose.)

The Japanese DO respect good ceramic materials.



The closest commercial formulated clay that I have found here in the USA that resembles the Kinose clay is "Grogzilla" clay from Clay Planet. ( I LOVE that name :lol: .) You can find it here: http://shop.clay-planet.com/
http://shop.clay-pla.../grogzilla.aspx


It still is based mostly upon western beneficiated materials, so is a more "dense" background body than Kinose. More "greasy" plasticity, finer grained other than the grogs and feldspar.

Hope that is of help.

best,

...........................john
John Baymore
Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

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#14 OffCenter

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 03:24 PM

John, I guess it is Kinose I'm looking for. A friend brought some back from Japan but used it up several years ago. I was guessing that it would be pretty unattainable but was hoping that, like the site GEP mentioned above for Chinese clay, someone would know of a site for Kinose. Thanks for info about Grogzilla. I can't wait to try it.

Jim
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#15 SFLouis

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 05:13 PM

SFLouis,

Welcome to the forums.

Man...... what a rant! I suggest you actually take the time and effort to read and understand all that I wrote above in this thread. Other than the assumptions about me that you make, most of the points you make in your first paragraph are exactly the same points I am making.

I'll let my ceramic technical and Japanese culture and tea understanding background sit as is, thanks. No reason to post any extensive "justifications" for my background or understanding.... most reading things here know. They are all quite decent and I'm comfortable with it all. Oh,..... I am VERY well aware of what many Japanese ceramists are doing with teawares ;) .

Although I am always a student and constantly learning.

You are, of course, entitled to you opinion. Although I think you seriously misread my intent. I am sorry that you are apprently offended by a broad, open minded view that covers all possibilities.

I agree with you totally that there is a LOT of bad teaware being produced by many potters who really don't understand tea. Pet peeve of mine. My main focus on this subject is specifically for Chado.

BTW..... I own that book you mention... and many others. 日本語が話せます。

As to drinking good tea myself....... I'm actually sipping a very nice sencha at the moment that I picked up in Uji a couple of months ago.... first flush brewed at 140 F in a Kanayamayaki woodfired unglazed kyusu.............. and am waiting for a package of some top quality Uji Matcha to arrive for the Chakai I'm hosting in exactly a week.

best,

..........................john

John, I was not offended by you or anything you said, but rather by the original poster who asked the question that started the thread.

#16 SFLouis

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 05:15 PM


SFLouis,

Welcome to the forums.

Man...... what a rant! I suggest you actually take the time and effort to read and understand all that I wrote above in this thread. Other than the assumptions about me that you make, most of the points you make in your first paragraph are exactly the same points I am making.

I'll let my ceramic technical and Japanese culture and tea understanding background sit as is, thanks. No reason to post any extensive "justifications" for my background or understanding.... most reading things here know. They are all quite decent and I'm comfortable with it all. Oh,..... I am VERY well aware of what many Japanese ceramists are doing with teawares ;) .

Although I am always a student and constantly learning.

You are, of course, entitled to you opinion. Although I think you seriously misread my intent. I am sorry that you are apprently offended by a broad, open minded view that covers all possibilities.

I agree with you totally that there is a LOT of bad teaware being produced by many potters who really don't understand tea. Pet peeve of mine. My main focus on this subject is specifically for Chado.

BTW..... I own that book you mention... and many others. 日本語が話せます。

As to drinking good tea myself....... I'm actually sipping a very nice sencha at the moment that I picked up in Uji a couple of months ago.... first flush brewed at 140 F in a Kanayamayaki woodfired unglazed kyusu.............. and am waiting for a package of some top quality Uji Matcha to arrive for the Chakai I'm hosting in exactly a week.

best,

..........................john

John, I was not offended by you or anything you said, but rather by the original poster who asked the question that started the thread.

You know, the one by "podgen".

#17 SFLouis

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 05:29 PM

SFLouis,

Welcome to the forums.

Man...... what a rant! I suggest you actually take the time and effort to read and understand all that I wrote above in this thread. Other than the assumptions about me that you make, most of the points you make in your first paragraph are exactly the same points I am making.

I'll let my ceramic technical and Japanese culture and tea understanding background sit as is, thanks. No reason to post any extensive "justifications" for my background or understanding.... most reading things here know. They are all quite decent and I'm comfortable with it all. Oh,..... I am VERY well aware of what many Japanese ceramists are doing with teawares ;) .

Although I am always a student and constantly learning.

You are, of course, entitled to you opinion. Although I think you seriously misread my intent. I am sorry that you are apprently offended by a broad, open minded view that covers all possibilities.

I agree with you totally that there is a LOT of bad teaware being produced by many potters who really don't understand tea. Pet peeve of mine. My main focus on this subject is specifically for Chado.

BTW..... I own that book you mention... and many others. 日本語が話せます。

As to drinking good tea myself....... I'm actually sipping a very nice sencha at the moment that I picked up in Uji a couple of months ago.... first flush brewed at 140 F in a Kanayamayaki woodfired unglazed kyusu.............. and am waiting for a package of some top quality Uji Matcha to arrive for the Chakai I'm hosting in exactly a week.

best,

..........................john


Also I should say that you are obviously legit and I did not mean to come across as though I were criticizing you. I'm sorry if I did.

#18 SFLouis

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 05:42 PM

SFLouis,

Welcome to the forums.

Man...... what a rant! I suggest you actually take the time and effort to read and understand all that I wrote above in this thread. Other than the assumptions about me that you make, most of the points you make in your first paragraph are exactly the same points I am making.

I'll let my ceramic technical and Japanese culture and tea understanding background sit as is, thanks. No reason to post any extensive "justifications" for my background or understanding.... most reading things here know. They are all quite decent and I'm comfortable with it all. Oh,..... I am VERY well aware of what many Japanese ceramists are doing with teawares ;) .

Although I am always a student and constantly learning.

You are, of course, entitled to you opinion. Although I think you seriously misread my intent. I am sorry that you are apprently offended by a broad, open minded view that covers all possibilities.

I agree with you totally that there is a LOT of bad teaware being produced by many potters who really don't understand tea. Pet peeve of mine. My main focus on this subject is specifically for Chado.

BTW..... I own that book you mention... and many others. 日本語が話せます。

As to drinking good tea myself....... I'm actually sipping a very nice sencha at the moment that I picked up in Uji a couple of months ago.... first flush brewed at 140 F in a Kanayamayaki woodfired unglazed kyusu.............. and am waiting for a package of some top quality Uji Matcha to arrive for the Chakai I'm hosting in exactly a week.

best,

..........................john

Btw that sounds like some very good tea you are drinking indeed. I LOVE Japanese green tea, though I go through phases in terms of how often I drink it. I will make a point of familiarizing myself with everything i can find out about your ceramic work sometime this week. Be well.

#19 ratdog

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 07:48 AM

gata say something



i do da tea jap an Chinese

macha an pu-erh
i found some clay in Wyoming that was purple and imparted most of the qualities the china stuff does. like my 120 us dollar pot i paid for to see what da hoopla was about. an the hoopla all stems from iron content. i got a cast iron water kettle that when combined with a type of pu-erh and my pot that will turn the tea from red green to purple.

know before you even Begin to rip me a new one first explain how green puerh can go purple then we can talk about iron and clay and taste imparted.



ps my clay pot is not needed to get purple color it happens in glass its the cast iron kettle. but why---

#20 agatha.gao

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 10:28 AM

zisha




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