Meet the Maker: Mugenan
Mugenan Bizen Ware Studio is located in a deep green mountain village of Inbe, Bizen City, Okayama Prefecture. Inbe is the hometown of Japanese Bizen pottery, being one of Japan’s oldest forms of pottery. The old townscape is made up of unique red brick chimneys and Bizen pottery roof tiles.
Mugenan's studio has six authentic potter's wheels, where their one of a kind ceramic pieces are crafted by hand. Their workshop is often filled with the scent of wood from the nearby wood kiln firings, and surrounded by local mountain soil, with also an abundance of nature in view from the studio windows.
Mugenan's ceramic pieces follow a long history of bizen ware pottery. Bizen ware or Bizen-yaki (備前焼) is a type of Japanese pottery traditionally from Bizen province, presently a part of Okayama prefecture. Bizen is characterised by significant hardness due to high temperature kiln firing. Common earthen-like, reddish-brown colours appear due to the absence of glaze and organic markings resulting from the wood firing process.
Bizen ware is placed into the kiln unglazed, but due to the effects of the 8-20 day pine wood firing, which reaches temperatures of approximately 1250°C, it becomes naturally glazed with pine ash and as a result acquires various subdued colours. This spontaneous and somewhat magical process is simple, unassuming, and honours the natural clay and wood fire process to be as much a part of the work as the forming of the clay itself.