Toshiaki Shibuta is a multi award-winning potter from Bizen, Japan's oldest pottery center. Bizen ware is characterized by the absence of glazing: Instead, different firing techniques are employed to create various colors and textures. Shibuta's pieces embody many of the traditional techniques from the area, yet, a closer look reveals the originality of his work in his innovative shaping of clay and surface treatments.
Shibuta and Bizen techniques
Shibuta's works often look different from every angle as a result of his simultaneous use of different Bizen firing techniques. For example, he is often able to achieve two or three effects in one piece by placing it a certain way in the kiln, baking the underside over shells, straw, and pieces of clay at a moderate temperature, which produces an array of colors, and exposing the surface to fallen grey ash, famously known as the "goma," or "sesame" glaze.
Other Bizen techniques he employs include "hidasuki," in which items are wrapped in pieces of straw, which burn away during the firing process, creating orange marks. He also creates his own "kurobizen" (black Bizen) glaze, a mixture of clay and mud, which, when fired, turns into a deep charcoal color. His process is both intuitive and well thought-out, producing pieces that are steeped in Bizen traditions, yet at the same time, completely original.
You can read more about Bizen and Shibuta in an article we translated from the French magazine, "Revue de la Céramique et du Verre." (issue 220 May-June 2018).
Awards and Exhibitions
Shibuta won the top prize at the Tanabe Museum Chanoyu Exhibition in 1991 and 1992, and was also awarded prizes in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, and 2010. He has exhibited widely throughout Japan, at Helsinki City Museum in Finland, and has played a major role in the construction of the Bizen Anagama Project in Pouligny, France, where he not only helped build the kiln, but teaches Bizen glazing and wood-firing techniques.
Each piece is wrapped in a signed wooden box.