In 2017 Thor Holvila created this incredible set of mame / palm sized pots to celebrate his signature themes and glazes before he went off to Tokoname in Japan to work with esteemed Japanese potter Shuhu.
Although Thor sometimes makes miniatures of his greatest pots, this is the only such complete set Thor has created, and it is an honour to have in the collection. Each piece represents a wonderful record of the work of this fantastic artist, pre his Japan era, which has undoubtedly and understandably had a great and positive impact on his work.
The set includes fantastic carved pieces with details such as: Skull, dragon teeth, & Ram's heads for feet ... carved corners to pots in various designs, .... Thor's famous Skull pot, ... and a variety of structurally carved pots.
All of Thor's signature glazes are also included, although since Japan, and Oribe miniature is much needed! Perhaps the post-Japan collection?!
This collection will never be for sale - however a very limited number of duplicates (9 of them) are for sale through the EBPC.
A unique & most treasured gift created by the 3 'brothers in clay'
While busy checking out some pots this Sunday in Belgium, I was suddenly startled by a hyper and crazed Thor Holvila! He came running over in a panic, explaining that I, and Harry (who was working elsewhere), should be at his trade stand, talking to the masses about the Scandinavian Bonsai Retreat - as advertised! He seemed really concerned and I was rushed off without a moments thought, and hustled through the event.
Before I knew what wasn't going on, I found myself confronted with all three of the Triskele potters - Tom Benda, Thor Holvila, and Tom Benda ( left to right in picture). I have long admired the work of these great potters and I was quite confused as they handed me a box, and explained that they had a gift for me.
Instead of having to deal with a crowd of people about SBR (Cheers Thor!), I was given this incredible bonsai pot rendition of Mjolner, the hammer of the Viking God Thor, which was made by all three of these world class potters!
Triskele said in their post; '... We decided to honour him by working together on a dedicated pot in the shape of Thors hammer Mjölner. At Noelanders we presented it to a surprised and stunned friend. Thanks Alex for giving fuel to the gathering of the Triskele brothers, and for all the passion and support you put into the European bonsai pottery scene. Cheers Alex!'
As some of you know, supporting European Bonsai Pottery is now my full time career and I work as hard as I can to support these incredibly talented artists, to learn and to inform .. and to build the EBPC brand. In addition to being the most imaginative and well executed bonsai pot I've seen, this heart felt gift from 3 people I am honorer to call good friends, means the world to me and it is so rewarding to see that all the hard work gone into the EBPC is recognised & appreciated.
Words cannot express my thanks Triskele brothers!
Below are some close ups of the details on the pot.
And a picture of Tom Benda working on the handle.
This year was the 3rd year of Triskele - They create just 6 unique collaboration pieces per year - each year in a different one of their home countries; England, Sweden and Czech Republic. Below are some photos from the first 2 years.
Here I will look at a different potter as often as possible, with some pot photos and descriptions.
This will also prompt me to ensure that over time I have each potter up to date!
2 - Wajaku
Ichihasi Wajaku is a very highly regarded, deceased potter from Kyoto. He started his bonsai pottery career aged 31, in 1964, and created mostly high quality unglazed pots, which were expertly carved from a single block of clay. This is a very time consuming process which if done this well, produces a pot with strength, integrity, and superb even wall thickness.
Wajaku produces a wide range of traditional shapes and styles of pot, with magnificent clean, straight lines, and wonderful detail. He also made some slab made pots.
Glazed pots by Wajaku are quite rare, but as a favourite potter of mine, I have acquired almost all I have come across.
The quality of his pots is first rate.
3 - Glazed pots
Unlike many potters, Wajaku also glazes the underside of his pot, but not the feet or stamp, (and obviously not the inside!)
2 - Unglazed pots - other shapes
Wajaku pots are not common, but his shapes and forms are varied, yet always simple, classical and quality.
A superb square semi cascade pot. Note how the cut corners continue to the feet - and how the walls curve slightly to the superbly carved basal band.
Another square cascade, quite different to the first. Walls remain straight, the corners are not 'cut', and a lip has been added to the rim.
The smooth clay finish, and expertly carved form and lines of this oval / mokko pot, to me has the sumptuous feel of an old leather rugby ball! An incredibly well made piece.
Tomorrow we will look at some glazed pots by Ichihashi Wajaku.
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed seeing these superb pots.
1 - Unglazed pots - rectangles
Wajaku made a variety of shapes, all with different features. Note the various feet used, and different clays. Special attention was always given to the fine details.
A classical shape of rectangle known as 'shokodouin' after the inventing kiln perhaps 150 to 200 years ago. (from Japanesebonsaipots.net) This shape's popularity has withstood the test of time, and is a shape that Wajaku often made. It has superbly cut corners, cloud feet, slight lip to the rim, and a clean finish with straight lines, gentle curves, and a smooth sumptuous brown clay.
Beautiful stepped corner panels carved into the sides, to give a softer, more delicate appearance.
With more masculine lines cut into this grounded rectangle.
A 10cm mame rectnagle in a darker chocolate colour clay. Wonderful detail to the lower band/sash.
Approx. 40 years old, similar to the 'shokodouin' style above, yet thicker rim and added band toward the base.
A deeper masculine rectangle.
Shokodouin style in a darker clay.
A shallow rectangle, with fine incised corners, and additional kanjo outside of the Hanko.
To(u)jaku - born Hayashi Tojaku (1935) in Kyoto, this multi talented potter studied under one of my very favourite potters (for glazed and unglazed pieces); Wajaku. He has mastered the art of creating unique, precisely made pieces with great character and interest. His ability with paint is quite superb and his painted pieces are reasonably rare. All of the pieces I have come across have been mame and shohin sized pots.
4 - Painted Pots
Although his painted pots are far fewer in number than his unglazed & carved pieces, Tojaku creates painted pots to a superb standard. Im yet to see an akae (red) painted pot by him, however here are 3 beautiful painted examples I do have in my collection. (Again, these are not for sale.)
The above piece is a fantastic example of the superb standard of Tojaku's painted work. Produced in his heyday, around 30 years ago, the fine brush work in this piece, especially to the buildings and reeds, combined with an exquisite use of shading, give a great sense of depth and clarity. A wonderful sometsuke piece with sansui scenes (explained below), framed in deep cobalt windows, with arabesque patterns surrounding them.
With signed box and cloth.
This sometsuke (blue cobalt on porcelain) painted pot depicts a wonderful 'sansui' scene (landscape - literally; Mountain, water). Here the varied clarity of brushstroke, and negative space are expertly used to give perspective to the far bank. A solitary rock is portrayed to ensure the viewer sees this void as an expanse of water.
A pretty porcelain hexagon pot, enamelled in bold shades of red, blue and green. The wonderfully rich colours and superb use of the foliage as arabesque patterns make this a delightful piece. Art that combines nature with geometry.
Next we will look at the work of Tojaku's senpai, 'Wajaku'. Thanks again for reading!
3 - Carved Pots
This pair of dragon craved pots are beautifully presented in their own signed box with signed cloth, and represent a wonderful example of Tojaku's prowess in carving. The detail in the dragons is superb, and they really jump out off the pot at you!
In addition to the superb dragons, the pots have a 'band' to rim and base, with a row of rivets on each. Delicate cloud feet add a delicate touch to the pots.
A rustic, simply made pinch pot, with a detailed pair of sculpted frogs.
2 - Glazed
A couple of glazed pots by Tojaku. These seem rarer than the unglazed or even carved or painted pieces we will look at later in the week.
A crackle glaze mame oval in white.
With years of patina building.
Glazed in light brown, with a very dark glaze dripping over; with a small carved accent frog
Simple form, yet beautifully made.
1 - Unglazed.
An wonderful rectangle with 'swirl' feet, rivets and wide central band.
A stunning hand carved pot with recessed windows and fine detail.
The form, proportions, and finishes to Tojaku's work is quite superb.
Made in pear skin clay, this larger (17cm) pot demonstrates Tojaku's clean lines, diversity of form and attention to detail.
A fantastic day out was had by all at the new location Heathrow Bonsai Show. Mark and Ming Moreland kindly invited my good friend Richard Lock and I to put on a pot display. Not the usual for a bonsai show, but we jumped at the chance. On realising how large the table would be .. the day before, we decided to display some Yamaaki pots ranging over the three generations of possibly the most popular kiln in Japan, which unfortunately closed in 2011.
Behind these, were three displays of painted pots.
The display seemed very well received, with many people spending time to examine and ask about the pots.
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