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mug vs. tea bowl - dick lehman

updated mon 7 apr 08


Nobody Special on sun 6 apr 08

Thank you all for your input.

I had the great privilege of spending the entire day yesterday wood-firing
with Dick Lehman. One would think that a 12 hour firing shift would be
brutal, but I found myself wishing for another 12 just for the opportunity
to soak up more knowledge and philosophy and to hear more great stories.

Among many other things, I asked Dick the same question I posed here, re
pricing of mugs versus tea bowls. He said that in Japan, tea bowls are the
second most expensive items (after large tsubo)to come from the kilns, and
pound for pound by far the most expensive. He believes that when American
potters started making "tea bowls" (of whatever caliber) and American
collectors started buying them, both sets of parties knew that tea bowls are
"expensive" compared to other items, and willingly kept up the tradition.
He agreed that on an economic basis, and other things being equal, a mug
should certainly cost more than a tea bowl. That is, an "art" mug should
cost more than an "art" tea bowl, and a common mug should cost more than a
common tea bowl. I believe the thing that was confusing me is that a large
percentage of makers seemed to price what looked to me to be very common tea
bowls, or as Lee pointed out, tea bowls in name only, as though they were
"art". It seems that this is just an issue of appropriating another
culture's forms without also appropriating their values. Much for me to
think about.