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SOUBUN TAKA
CERAMIC ART / KUTANI PORCELAIN
Soubun Taka was born into an artisan family, whose interest in Kutani porcelain began with his grandfather. He watched his father and grandfather at work as a child, and began his own Kutani career when he was in college. He has now been working for over 30 years. His is the third generation to take on the family workshop, producing plates, vases, ornaments and various accessory items. He specializes in painting but also does clay body shaping. He uses classical techniques, with bold designs, delicate lines and memorable motifs. He has recently worked as an instructor at a Kutani porcelain technical training institute, passing on his knowledge of *kinrande, the decorative technique used by his grandfather.
*Kinrande is a decorative technique whereby gold designs are painted on a red surface. Plates with delicate red lines are called aka-e, while those with gold painting on them are called kinrande.

PRODUCT CONCEPT

Mr. Taka’s handicraft inspires people to express their feelings and personalities. He varies the techniques he uses according to how the products will be used. Kutani porcelain uses five key colors for decoration: green, yellow, purple, dark blue, and red*. Please take a look at the different decorative techniques he uses for these necklaces and rings.
*Some ornately decorated Kutani porcelain has gold or silver painted on a surface.

PRODUCTION PROCESS

Making Kutani porcelain

There may be regional differences in clay texture and color, but the production process behind porcelain art is very similar all over the world. Clay is basically made up of powdered rock and sand: the production process consists of clay forming, drying, firing, painting, enameling, glazing, painting and firing.

Kutani porcelain’s main feature is the decorations which are painted onto the glazed surface of the clay, using the five key colors. (Products which have gold decoration on them are finished in a different way. After firing, the porcelain is decorated with paint made from gold powder and glue (Nikawa), and then fired again.) Painters express their skill and individuality through the dedicated way in which they apply these colors.
Note: Mr. Taka’s products are all porcelain. Porcelain differs from pottery in a number of ways. It is made from a fine-grained white clay called kaolin, while pottery is made from common clay. It is fired to a higher temperature than pottery. It is translucent and “whiter” than pottery. It is non-porous, unlike pottery. When struck, porcelain makes a clear metallic sound, whereas pottery makes a dull sound.

Knowledge + personal expression + skill

Since he was born into an artisanal family and has worked with Kutani porcelain for over 30 years, Mr. Taka’s knowledge and skill in his craft is unparalleled. His passion and enthusiasm for his art means he is continually participating in new events and projects. His powers of personal expression are continually evolving. We believe he has a supreme sense of coloring and design. The products we feature in our collection are his smallest and most delicate, each one balanced with its own colorful patterns and designs.
Note: We have not managed to get any photos of the production process for these items, but have posted previous designs below. We hope these give you a sense of his range of personal expression.

  • In the traditional decorative technique, kinrande, gold is painted onto a red background and fired. This technique is rare these days, because of the time and effort involved.

  • The cup on the left is a modern design featuring classic patterns. The cup on the right uses a classic decorative technique, reminiscent of the Japanesque style.

  • The birds depicted here (sparrows and a kingfisher) can be seen in the artist’s garden. They are lively and adorable.