Yoseka Stationery

Yoseka Ceramics Ink Series - Song Black

Produced in collaboration with Ink Institute and ceramic artist Li Yan Xun, our Yoseka Ceramics Ink Series showcases 8 unique colors inspired by ceramic glazes from the Yuan, Ming, Tang, Qing, and Song Dynasties, spanning 10 centuries of Chinese color and history. We worked closely with Li to select these 8 colors from his Yan Cai color project, in which he used chemical experimentation to revive the formulas of over 60 historical glazes, to represent the brilliant and splendid history of Chinese ceramics.

The use of matte black glaze on porcelain flourished in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). The formula of this black glaze is rich in iron and earthy minerals that are abundant in soil; therefore, this glaze was simple and straightforward to produce. In this era, black-glazed wares were popular for tea-drinking and tea-ceremony use. The Buddhist temples of the Zhejiang Hangzhou Tianmu Mountains used this black glaze on their tea ware; Japanese monks who visited these temples often brought back their black-glazed tea bowls, or chawan, as souvenirs. Called Tianmu or Tenmoku glaze, it can be encountered in a variety of patterns: some of the most common are called oil drops, hare’s fur, star marble, partridge spot, or tortoiseshell. It is fitting that this calm and elegant black glaze that comes from the earth can express so many textures of nature.

Jiangyang-ware black-glazed hare’s fur chawan (ca. Song Dynasty [960-1279])
The Palace Museum, Beijing, China

About Li Yanxun: Li Yan Xun is a ceramic artist and the founder of the Yanshan Art Museum  in Jingdezhen, China. Hailing from a family of ceramic artists, he received formal training at the renowned Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute before starting his own ceramics studio. In addition to inheriting the “watercolor glaze” techniques pioneered by his father, Li Xiaocong, Li Yan Xun spent almost a decade researching and cataloguing the glaze pigments used in Jingdezhen during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Experimenting with chemical methods like glaze reduction tests and pure reagent analyses, he revived more than 60 historic glazes and documented each formula. Through this color project, titled Yan Cai, Li pursues the notion that an artist can be involved in every phase of their art-making process, from the development of the medium, to the physical craftsmanship, to the firing and completion of the object.

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