February 3, 2007

Bizen Pottery & Printing Type

Here are a few sample images taken with the Pentax 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens and K10D. All photos shot in RAW, AV mode at f/11. The "objects" for this test were some of our smaller Bizen pottery and a set of 64pt Cloister Initials metal printing type. All objects were shot outside on our patio table, and placed on a sheet of white foamcore or cotton sheet under a makeshift tent using a sheet to diffuse the direct sunlight overhead.

The areas around Bizen (Imbe, Japan) next to the Inland Sea in the Okayama prefecture have been producing some of the most beautiful traditional ceramics since the 12th century. Bizen ceramic wares are prized for their warm reddish brown colors and restrained understated beauty. Bizen ceramics are typically fired at high temperature, over 1200C/2300F, and often have distinctive red or black fire marks. Each piece of Bizen pottery has a unique personality.

Small Bizen bowl, approximately 1.75" tall by 2" wide

8" Bizen plate showing pattern created by firing plate with sake cups placed on top with stalks of rice soaked in salt water.

5" Bizen vase showing rough texture near top created from ashes in the kiln. The next photo shows the other side of the same vase, where another piece of pottery was placed right next to it during the firing process creating an almost metalic tone.

Back in the 70's and early 80's, I owned an old letterpress printing press manufactured in 1890. I printed limited edition books, posters and design keepsakes...which combined my print work and calligraphy. I recently uncovered one of my business cards from this period, as well as a set of some of the metal type I used. The 100mm macro lens worked out nicely as I was able to get in fairly close to show the details of the type and parts of the 150 year old wooden cases I stored the metal typefaces in.