⟨ Wabi Sabi ⟩

You Might Want to Try Using It

The Silver Glaze Container

Words & Photography / Ron Lam
Translation / Iris Heung

到陶藝家安藤雅信家作客,席間他突然遞來一口小小的銀彩片口,說是作為我們的新婚禮物。「拿去用用看啊。」他的妻子明子小姐說。不知怎地,「用用看」三個字在我腦內久久不退,彷彿這一個手心大小的容器,還有很多須要我們發掘,邊用邊看。一般銀彩器皿太過閃亮,總不自覺地迴避過去。但安藤先生的銀彩器物,在燒成過後再打磨過,釉藥的表層給磨走了,內裡銀的成份直接與空氣接觸,因此銀彩的光芒在使用不久後便會慢慢地褪去,先化作銀灰色,然後越來越暗淡,最後會變成深邃的黑,色澤如同月光黯淡的夜空。這樣的變化,或許就是明子小姐希望我們「用用看」,體驗看看的原因。

閃閃發亮的、光亮潔淨的總讓人愛,銀器變黑,理所當然地對大部分使用者來說,都要教人厭煩的事,偏偏日本人視之為美。黃銅化為棕色、馬口鐵或銀彩器物變得灰黑、鐵器生鏽了,可視之是老舊或骯髒,也可視之為經年變化孕育下來的美感。培養器物,與之一同經歷歲月的變化,樂趣難以言喻,若到手時,器物已驗盡蒼桑,則顯現了器物本來的質性,又是另一種樂趣。

早兩天,我終於開始「用用看」安藤先生贈送的銀彩片口,對於它將展現的轉變,充滿了期待。

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.