Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I really like celadons and oil-drop glazes. They can be so beautiful!

The term celadon (青磁) either refers to a character in a French play, or is a malformation of the name Saladin (Salah ed-Din Yusuf ibn Ayoob, 1138 - 1193).
Either possibility is likely, especially the second - porcelain came to Europe via the Silk Road.

The hue of the glaze ranges from greenish and blueish through yellowish and whiteish, usually paleish greens and yellowish greens. All kinds of ish, in fact (just kidding!).
What cause that color is the iron oxide, the reduction firing makes it crackly. The porcelain was made at the Long Guan kilns (Longguan: 龍泉) in Chitkong province (Zhejiang: 浙江), which is south of Shanghai. It was also made at King Tak Chan (Jingdezhen: 景徳鎮), as well as imitated in Korea and Japan. It is still made in all those places.

The best type I think is the kind that has a jade-like glaze with lots of crackle and looks between cold middle tone coppery green and a warm dirty yellow - the glaze pools in the deep incisions and depressions like gelled water or old glass, the crackles reflect light in sharp thin lines.
The glaze really glows, especially in slanting light, like before the sun goes down. Usually it is old, and not at all affordable.
It is not the kind that is very easily found, however. You sometimes see it in Japantown, far less often anywhere in Chinatown, except for antique stores.

The Korean stuff is technically perfect, and hence extremely uninteresting.


Reduction firing: If there is less oxygen in the kiln than needed to fully burn the fuel used to fire the kiln, especially during the last stage of temperature increase, the metals in the glaze will not fully convert to an oxidized state. It is more likely in fuel-burning kilns than in electric. The variations in the glaze are more subtle and interesting.


GRANT!PATEL! said...

An interesting taste you got there, girlie. Celadons and mustard yellows. What will you suprise us with next?

---Kittredge Nodiwalls

The back of the hill said...

I too like celadons. Regarding which I should mention that several Northern California potters have experimented with same, yielding some very splendid pieces.

In addtion to Jingtechen, Korea, and Japan, celadon is also produced in Vietnam and Thailand.

GRANT!PATEL! said...

Heavily lobed and incised celadons in olive tones, oh very yes.

Stuff like this makes me cream. I kid you not.

---Grant Patel

The back of the hill said...

I'm not surprised - there's something very sensual about antique celadons.

GRANT!PATEL! said...

I am in the zone oh yes not to be disturbing indeed.

---Rama Krishnopung

GRANT!PATEL! said...

Merciful heavens yes.

---Prithap Sithabang