You Might Want to Try Using It

The Silver Glaze Container




During a visit to the potter Masanobu Ando, he suddenly presented to us a silver glaze jug as our wedding gift. Masanobu’s wife Akiko said, “You might want to try using it.” Her words somehow linger in my mind; I felt as if this palm-sized container had a great potential that we would only get to know as we actually use it.

I often unthinkingly avoid getting any silver glaze container as I find the color too glittering. The silver glaze container made by Ando is, however, different. His ceramics go through a fine process of polishing after firing, therefore the outermost layer of glaze is removed. Without the protection, the silver material would be in direct contact with the air and lose its gloss more easily — the bright silver color would first turn greyish, and thereafter increasingly duller until it becomes dark in color, so dark that it is almost like the moonless and starless sky. This change in color is perhaps what Akiko wanted us to experience from “using” the container.

People love to see things that are sparklingly clean, so most of them would not be happy to see silverware getting dull and dark in color; the Japanese, however, see this as the beauty of the utilitarian objects. Brass getting brownish, tinplate or silverware getting dark grey, ironware getting rusty… Do you see these as things turning worn and dirty, or rather as beauty the objects obtain along with age? Keeping a certain object and to experience numerous stories with it day by day is an unexplainable joy. But if the object is already worn and flawed when you first get it, it is another kind of joyful moment to observe it as what it intrinsically is.

Two days ago, I finally started using Ando’s silver glaze jug. Now, I am so looking forward to seeing it transforms.