What is Japanese Crackleglaze?

What is Japanese Crackleglaze?

Japanese crackleglaze is a type of finish created by the combustion of metals, rich in colour and a big feature within Japanese culture. It’s often associated with raku pottery, which was traditionally used for Japanese tea. However, it has since evolved to be made in vases, animal figures and more. The unique and beautiful Japanese crackleglaze designs, inspired by the traditional Japanese raku firing process, means the pottery is great as aesthetic pieces, tableware, and gifts.

The History of Raku Pottery

Since the 16th century, the Japanese have been creating beautiful and authentic raku pottery with a crackleglaze finish. The creation came from the tile maker Chōjirō who was instructed by Zen tea master, Sen Rikyū, to create pottery for his tea ceremony. The raku wares are unique from anything that came before it as Chōjirō modelled the tea bowls by hand, unlike previous pottery which had been created on a wheel. The diverse shapes and colours of raku crackleglazed pottery are influenced by the makers hand and also an essence of luck as the cracking effect is made through the cooling process. This unique method of creation, explained in detail below, is what makes these pieces stand out from other pottery and why it is still loved and appreciated today.
How is Japanese crackleglaze made?

Traditional Method

The traditional process of raku pottery placed pottery under the extreme stress of temperature changes. Unlike normal pottery pieces which are matured in a cold kiln, raku pottery is placed in an extremely hot kiln and then quickly removed whilst still hot. This is the beginning of its uniqueness. The piece is then rapidly forced to cool either in the air or in water. The original Japanese method of natural intense cooling creates the beautiful effect of cracking. The word raku translates to ‘enjoyment’ and ‘happiness in the accident’, emphasising how naturally beautiful this pottery is.

Modern Method

Crackleglaze Tea Cup

The modern method has been influenced from the traditional and incorporates the intense cooling, which gives the pieces their beautiful crackleglaze finish. In modern techniques, the pottery is removed from the hot kiln and placed into containers with combustible materials that ignite. The metallic compounds give the pieces their vibrancy through glazing with colour. For example, cobalt produces a dark blue and copper can produce green, but also red when oxygen is absent in the glaze. The intentional cracking comes from the thermal shock, and means no Japanese crackleglaze piece is identical.

How Can Japanese Crackleglaze Pottery be Used?

Japanese Crackleglaze

Originally, the crackleglaze bowl was glazed with colours including browns, reds, oranges, greens and creams and used for Japanese tea ceremonies to serve Matcha (Japanese green tea). Modern Japanese crackleglaze pieces are more diverse in their uses and colours, although the essence of its heritage remains.

At The Japanese Shop, we have a range of beautiful turquoise crackleglaze tableware. Our range includes bowls, perfect for traditional udon noodles and also all kinds of oriental and western cuisines. We also stock crackleglaze sushi plate sets, crackleglaze tea cups and many more variations of Japanese pottery on our website.

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