I’ve had numerous opportunities to try my hand at pottery, and I must say, I hate it. Nothing ever seems to go right, and I don’t like the feeling of clay. However, I love finished ceramics, and my personal aversion to making pottery only increases my admiration for what can be achieved, and for the craft of the artists who create these works of practical art.
Since my wife is also a devotee of ceramics and likes to make the occasional purchase, we’ve become the targets of some direct mail. Every so often we get a postcard from Sou Sou, a truly wonderful little tableware shop which is just a short walk from Ishite Temple. The postcards feature an artfully shot picture of exquisite ceramic ware, tempting us to drop by and maybe purchase another bowl or plate.
Recently I visited Sou Sou to see the featured works of Morito Tatsuruhama and Takashi Yomiya, ceramicists from Ehime and Kumamoto respectively. Their work is typified by elegant curved fluting and a fine cracked antique finish, with patches suggesting rust where the iron from the clay has fused with the glaze. They look almost enameled.
The owner of Sou Sou soon came over and greeted me politely. Then with evident pride and infectious enthusiasm, he picked up and showed me this and that piece, telling me about the person who made it and the processes they use. He held up a cup to the light to show me a pattern of transparent dots in the otherwise ceramic, explaining that holes pierced by the artist are then filled with the semi-transparent glaze. Here was another type of pottery fired in a wood-fueled kiln as opposed to the more common gas kiln – the ash from the fire becomes incorporated in the finish giving the plates and cups a very rustic appearance. There, in marked contrast, were a pair of goblets with a hyper-elegant metallic silver finish to grace the finest dinner table. In Sou Sou there are items to suit every taste. I was particularly taken by the slip ware, with delicate two-tone patterns created by dragging a fine comb across stripes of two contrasting colors.
You might suppose that these plates, cups and bowls fetch a very high price, but in fact they’re all quite affordable. As gifts or souvenirs, a single piece or a small set from Sou Sou is sure to gratify anyone with an eye for quality ceramics.