A Scientist Doing Kurinuki | Supatra Marsh | Episode 652

A Scientist Doing Kurinuki | Supatra Marsh | Episode 652

Supatra Marsh | Episode 652

A Scientist Doing Kurinuki | Supatra Marsh | Episode 652

Supatra Marsh is the maker behind BLANK EARTH Ceramics. Supatra’s pottery takes inspiration from Asian ceramics and traditional handmade processes. Supatra specializes in ‘kurinuki’, the Japanese art of making slowly, carving pottery from a lump of clay to produce unique, one-of-a-kind pots.


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When you grab a lump of clay how planned is your vision for what’s going to come out of that clay?

So it’s planned in a way like say I am making a tea pot, I will shape the clay into a general tea pot shape with a little spout so I know that I want to make a tea pot. But in terms of the faceting and that type of thing usually comes when I am carving it because I have before tried to plan it out, like I want to make this, and I have made that type of  carving so I want to have straight sides and more angled at the bottom ,say  and it just doesn’t work out. It is not the same as wheel throwing, the clay is just free to do whatever it wants. So now I am more just feeling how…and also I do like different types of facets in my work and it is still something I am learning and building upon. You just have to go with the flow with kurinuki, I think, it’s not really pre-planned like my wheel throwing is.

With wheel throwing you have a definite beginning and a definite end, so how do you know when your piece is finished?

You just have to stop. (laughter) It’s like when is the painting finished? I used to paint before in London and it’s like so easily you can go over the top. With kurinuki the main aim for me is I am trying to get it as light as possible. Because obviously in kurinuki the walls are thicker and it is not as easy to get it as light as wheel throwing. So I am always pushing it that little bit to get my next tea pot a bit lighter and definitely from when I first started my stuff is much lighter. So if I pick it up and it is a bit heavy I will still go at it, more doing the inside. I usually can tell if I am happy with the shape looking at the general profile is even, even though the faceting is obviously quite irregular, just the general profile, does it look kind of like that golden ratio, like a tea pot. And then I will go back and carve the inside just to get those walls as thin as possible.

What is the typical time frame for a small yunomi cup with this process?

So I will first hollow it out while it is soft. I will wedge it, hollow it out and that is quite fast for a cup because it is very simple. You just need to remove the middle, sometimes I will carve the foot as well, while it’s soft. That can take like 5 minutes, it doesn’t take too long, 5 to 10 minutes say. I am also trying to adjust the shape. Do I want the yunomi to be round or do I want it straight sided? And then I will leave it to dry and that takes however long it takes depending on if I am coming in the next day or if I’m doing it the same day I will just leave it out and sometimes it dries out quite fast. And the carving for a cup doesn’t take no where as long as a tea pot. So for a cup the carving can take say fifteen, twenty minutes. Depending on the intricacy of what I am doing. It does depend a lot on how I am feeling. if it’s not looking how I want it to look I will spend much more time. Then sometimes I carve and it’s like instantly it’s like, Yes, this is good. 

How do you treat the inside of one of your pieces? Do you use a traditional glaze or do you do something else inside it to seal it?

Yes, I normally do a normal glaze. With the  kurinuki I sometimes have it smooth inside or I will also  leave carving marks inside sometimes. So it is sometimes nice to have a glaze that breaks on the carving marks so you can kind of see those inside. So I work in a studio and we have a lot of in house made glazes that are food safe that we use normally. So it would be a normal white or a gloss. It depends.

What kind of surface decoration or glaze are you putting on the outside?

This is something I am still developing. I haven’t found something that is super like, Yes, that I am completely happy with. But at the moment what I am doing is glazing the outside and I am experimenting with leaving the rips raw, brushing the glaze away so that you can still see that rocky, stony texture protruding from the glaze and also sponging away the glaze on those areas. They all sound kind of the same but they all give a slightly different effects. Then also it depends on what the color of your clay is and then what your glaze color is. How much a contrast is there? I try to blend the glaze into the raw clay so there is a bit of a gradient and not just a harsh line. So at the moment I am doing lots of experiments with glazing.

We replace every cell in our bodies every seven years . Why is it if we are always having new, fresh cells being replaced, why do we age?

So they are being replaced but not necessarily good cells. So even though there’s a turnover of cells as we age this process gets not as efficient. So that can manifest in a huge number of ways and diseases. Specifically and more importantly cancer. We don’t think of cancer as one disease. It is multiple different diseases happening in all different types of cells in your body because the process as we age is not as efficient as it once was when we were younger. That is basically mistakes these happening while the cells are replicating. So that is basically why cancer happens and also why aging happens.


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