Broken to the core

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This is a nice pot. Alas, it’s not one I can use.

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Wudesheng was a yixing workshop that produced pots during the Republican period, and it was shut down after WW2 began. The seal used here probably dates it to the 20s, before they switched to the more famous “Jinding shangbiao” (Golden Tripod Brand) seals.

I bought it as a reference piece – to learn about different clays, and to see its construction. The clay is “muddy”, almost. You can see how the clay used to be a paste-like substance. Somebody, at some point, broke it – maybe because it had a few air bubbles and just cracked, maybe because it was slammed on a surface and just shattered, I don’t know. What I do know is that it is now very fragile, held together by the top part of the pot which is still, miraculously, staying together, even though the skin of the pot is very thin. I suspect that if I want to get it repaired, it has to be thoroughly broken first before it can be repaired, but given its very thin-skinned nature, I fear that once destroyed, it’s not going to stay in its shape at all and instead revert to pieces of clay. The lid, on the other hand, is intact. Perhaps one of these days, if I ever run into a julunzhu without a lid, I can use this one.


Comments

Broken to the core — 7 Comments

  1. Always worry about the arsenic and lead contents of the pots, although some day would like to own a yixing clay pot. Any thoughts?

    • There’s no lead in yixing clay, at least from what I understand. More on yixing chemistry in a few weeks when I see some results.

  2. Is there a ceramics dept at your university?

    This might be a bit sacrilegious, but if you wanted to use the pot…. you might be able to get it slipped/glazed on the outside. What slip is… is clay that’s runny. If you can get some info on about what temperature the pot was fired to, you could get them to formulate a slip that will vitrify just below that temp. You want it to vitrify cooler than the clay so that the firing doesn’t close the original pores, but still sets the slip.

    What you’d get then, is a skin of clay on the outside, so that the pot wouldn’t leak, but you’d still have the original clay on the inside. Also, they can add red iron oxide, to mimic the color.

    The pot won’t be as strong as a new pot, but it might be strong enough to use.

    There would be a slight risk though. When pottery cools, it contracts. If it contracts too fast, or unevenly, it could shatter.

    Less risky, would be to use a higher flux glaze, just on the outside. The flux will actually penetrate the surface of the pot and make it fuse, but it won’t look like.. a clay pot.

    If it’s not cracked all the way through, you might be able to get away with this. If it was cracked all the way, you wouldn’t be able to, since anything you used to hold the piece would melt/burn out, and it would fall apart before the slip/glaze could get to a melting temp.

    • I think given its fragile state (all the cracks are through the body, and the skin is very thin) it’s probably too risky to try anything

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