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What Exactly Is Shino

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Does this simply mean a glaze speckled by the clay body? I've Wikipedia'd "Shino" and the best I can figure out it's an old Japanese technique using a white glaze which speckles over a red clay body, originally on tea bowls as part of rustic pottery aesthetic. Wikipedia branches off into a lot of info about shino that seems to spiral around getting more ever more complicated, at least to my beginner's ears. However I've heard the term "Shino" glaze bandied about seemingly loosely with modern glazes while watching youtube videos. They didn't look much like the ancient Japanese utensil ware referenced. The glaze wasn't always white, and there was no clue as to what they meant. I don't even think it was speckled. The nearest pottery shop has "Shino" glazes for sale not all of which are white. Of course I asked them what shino was and got an eyeroll. I'd like to learn once and for all what it means.

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ok, student, do not be offended.  you are asking the million dollar question.  not quite like asking for someone to explain a line of shakespeare before you know the alphabet, more like asking why is the sky blue.  and a different blue each day. 

 

i do not think anyone has an answer.

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Forget about Wikipedia . . . start here: https://euancraig.blogspot.com/2009/03/principles-of-shino.html

 

There are the Japanese shinos . . . very traditional. And, there are American shinos . . . very different, google for Malcolm Davis to see his work on carbon-trapping shinos. You can spend a lifetime in pursuit of shino, google Hank Murrow. Same differences as Japanese raku and American raku.

 

What is offered in stores in pre-mixed containers of all the rainbow's colors are not shinos. Same for their celadons. They are just nice (mostly) looking glazes that have the apparent look of the originals.

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Guest JBaymore

WAY too long to get into fully here.  Sorry.  I do a full 3 hour class on this in my "History of Japanese Ceramics" course I teach.

 

"Shino" is actually a type of WARE that arose in Japan in the Momoyama Period.   Shino ware is composed of a combination of a very high alumina and very refractory clay body combined with a feldspathic glaze that was one of the first truly white glazes in Japan.  It was produced in the Mino region of Japan, and was produced for only a pretty short period (in the original form).  It was highly prized for its aesthetic qualities by certain tea masters because it "meshed" with the emerging "wabi-cha" aesthetic that was developing as a reaction to the ostentatious "gold plated tastes" of the Feudal Lords at the time.

 

The main characteristics of this clay body and glaze combination include: 

  • the basic white color of the glaze on the very light and non-vitrified grainy clay body
  • a soft almost bisque ware quality to the fired clay body
  • a tendency of the glaze to pin hole
  • a tendency for the glaze to get reddish "hi-iro (firecolor) where thin
  • a typically casual approach to forming and finishing

It is not "speckled", if you are looking at Momoyama Japanese examples.  You are likely seeing the fire color of the thin glaze along the pinholing. 

 

There are variations on this work.  Nezumi shino has an iron/cobalt slip under the glaze that gets "mouse grey" areas, often with scraffito work.  Also e-shino.... picture shino that has brushwork sometimes in cobalt blue or in iron. 

 

The way of making this kind of work was totally lost for a long time in Japan.  Even the place of origin was unknown for a long time.  Look up the term "Momoyama Revival Period" to see how it was rediscovered.

 

In the USA, the development of Shino glazes was taken off on a tangent by Virginia Wirt in the mid part of the last century.  In her search for duplicating the Japanese glaze, she used a raw material that was NEVER used in the Japanese original..... spodumene.  That then led to the introduction of lithium compounds into the formulation (none in the Japanese samples).  And then soda ash was used to increase the sodium content..... and American Shino was born.  It looks very little like Japanese Shino.  It's main characteristic that it shares with the Japanese glaze is a high alumina very viscous surface.  The carbon trap varieties of American Shino were unknown in Japan.

 

The Japanese shino glaze is a single feldspathic rock from a specific deposit, stamper milled to get sharp edged particles, and sometimes suspended with a very small amount of kaolin and a seaweed binder.  it is fired to a relatively low temperature, but high cone (heat work) over an incredibly long firing cycle.   There is no single rock that is the same available in the USA.  The closest is Nephelyne Syenite......... and it serves as the starting point for many American Shino glazes.

 

Hope this helps.

 

best,

 

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

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In the USA we generally refer to shino as a type of glaze. They are fired in reduction, usually in the high fire range (cone 10). Like John said, most American shino are based on Nepheline Syenite, a soda spar, although if I remember correctly the true shino rock is actually a potash spar. Most American shino flash to brick red/orange colors, although color can vary from white to dark brick red. Many American shino also have soda ash in them, which causes carbon trapping, giving black areas to the surface (Google Malcolm Davis shino). Shino glazes have a satin, waxy surface that can be quite thick. They are stiff glazes, so a thick application won't run, but may crawl, which is acceptable and often desired. Unlike most glazes, the get lighter in color as they get thicker. Shino glazes seems to go with everything, and they look great with food. Go to Google Images and search shino and you'll get a good idea of the range of shino glazes.

 

Commercial cone 6 shino glazes are an attempt to satisfy the cone 6 oxidation folks' desire for a shino glaze, but they all fall short. Some are a slightly close approximation of the red/orange color, but none of them would ever be mistaken for a 'real' shino. Many commercial glazes are using the term 'shino' simply to refer to a particular surface quality. 'Green Shino'?!?!? There's even one out there that's almost the color of Pepto Bismol.

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Thanks to everyone for the responses and links.

This is sort of what I'd figured but wanted to confirm that I wasn't missing some obvious, simple answer. I think American Shino's are what in my head I've nicknamed "pottery glazes" for lack of a better term. BTW I love the look of the original white Japanese shino and tend to default to speckled (real shino may not be "speckled" but the non-shino off-white I use is) whitish glaze on the few vessels I make just because to my eye it always looks so artistically minimalist and earthy.

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One of the best books around was published by Kodansha way back. Author Kuroda and Ryoji, If you can find one, buy it. It was part of a series they published on classic Japanese glazes.  See also in series oribe.  Both are still around online but expensive.

 

A second resource is https://openlibrary.org/books/OL18179326M/American_shino

   (Richter)

from a a 2001 retrospective at Babcock Galleries in New York  Must have been about the 25th anniversary of the 1974 start of American Shino at the University of Minnesota under Warren MacKenzie.  My understanding was he set the class to find a flux saturated glaze that imitated in some ways, the ancient Japanese Shino.

 

 

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