Tokoname: I don't get it. Whats the big deal?

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Re: Tokoname: I don't get it. Whats the big deal?

Post by kcpoole » June 15th, 2015, 6:04 pm

Been following this with interest and had a thought today.
can someone Quantify what makes a "great pot"?

Take 2 pots of similar size, style, clay, etc and without any identification marks, or knowing which was which, how to tell the better one of the 2. I am assuming that they are both 1st quality with no defects, What makes a Tokoname pot better?

Pat K, ( or any other potter) in your experience could you make a duplicate of a Tokoname pot that is indistinguishable ( aside from Chop) from the original?
if not, why?

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Re: Tokoname: I don't get it. Whats the big deal?

Post by tgward » June 15th, 2015, 6:29 pm

"quality" is discussed in -----Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance------not a bad read

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Re: Tokoname: I don't get it. Whats the big deal?

Post by Andrew Legg » June 15th, 2015, 7:26 pm

Hi Rory,

You are correct in many ways. A pot should be appraised on its quality and how it looks now. These are what in most cases define whether it is a suitable container for a specific tree. The shape, feet, colour, glaze, imperfections, patina etc etc. these all contribute. Then one gets this little thing called sentimental value. Just as you may keep an old war medal of your great grandfather's, so some bonsai folks see value in an old pot made by a historical figure. Sure, it does not it a better pot, but it's just that some of us attach a value to something that represents a part of the history of our hobby. The Japanese are a bit like this in their outlook on life. Objects with age are respected more as they have "made it this far". I guess I some way like the old saying, treat your elders with respect. If we compare a new pot with an old one of equivalent quality, the old one may have patina. Appreciation for the visual effect of the patina is something entirely personal. Appreciation of the presence of patina (which can only be developed with age) is again entirely personal.

So, what I'm trying to say I guess is that it's entirely up to you whether you attribute monetary value to age or historical significance, and not just the quality of a pot, or the rarity or a clay or glaze etc. Some people will. Some people won't, so just do what floats your boat. If history has no meaning or value to you, then simply don't attribute any extra to the pot in question. It's really that simple. Easy peazy lemon squeezy.

As for Tok pots, to me the name carries some kind of assurance of basic decent quality. Let's not forget that you can buy Tok pots from a catalogue, and whilst in general they are well made, the really valuable ones are not catalogue pots, but rather handmade pots by the master craftsmen with individualism. If PatK spent a bu ch of time making a lovely custom pot for your tree, you'd be willing to pay more for that then if you bought one from her that she'd stamped out in some form of small production run with twenty others. That's just a reflection of the time and individuality that's gone into making something, whether it's a pot, a piece of clothing, a meal or anything else for that matter.

And, as for pots telling a story, well, they can't because they don't have a mouth, but they can represent the history of our hobby, and considering that age, and the impression of age are central in so many ways to bonsai, it's not a long shot to find that that being echo'ed in the pottery we use would not be considered pretentious. Just as people attribute value to the old masters in painting, so they will attribute value to the old historically famous or relevant potters in bonsai.

Cheers,

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Last edited by Andrew Legg on June 15th, 2015, 7:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Tokoname: I don't get it. Whats the big deal?

Post by wrcmad » June 15th, 2015, 8:32 pm

Rory wrote: I myself just don't see the fascination that is associated and still see them as a hyped status symbol. As stated in replies, it is not a reason that I cannot afford the pots to question their worthiness, nor that I feel they are worth more for their history or tale. As also stated, you can pay a premium for any pot from any potter in any country, depending on their perceived beauty, and to a lesser extent, their effort and costs put into each pot. Reading the replies, it seems that some appreciate the Tokoname pots because of their history of the pot making city, the history of each potter and the love that they hold for their profession and their heritage that makes these uniquely rare, and often old pots so desired and collectable.

For me however, the above paragraph highlights (in my opinion) reasons for why I feel the pots are over-rated. I too feel that a pot is certainly a work of art yes, (forgetting about the history and philosophy that preceeds it), but a pot should be allowed to stand on its own merit and be critiqued without requiring a history or an appreciation for this history to critique the pot. If one has to learn all the history behind the pot to appreciate it, then in true essence it really is just a status symbol. I doubt that most users on this forum can honestly differentiate between these highly regarded old and unique Tokoname pots and a common less quality version. If they can, then all merit to them and I hope they appreciate them.
Your statements suggest that your opinion remains based on the presumption that the premium paid for a good Toko is solely paying for reputation, status and history.
I see it differently.

Consistent quality and craftsmanship came first, and was maintained over time, in turn earning tokoname the reputation it has today. The premium is paid (by those who know) for the quality and asthetics. You don't need to "learn all the history behind the pot to appreciate it". A good pot stands on it's own.
It is similar to bonsai tools.
Enthusiests world-over will tell you that Masakuni are the best. People will pay a premium for this quality product. Masakuni has thus garnered a reputation and history of producing the best quality tools - the reputation built up by producing consistently good quality over time.

It is, however, interesting that you use PK as a comparison - pots you regards as "The Holy Grail of the Bonsai World" (viewtopic.php?f=45&t=17777).
You suggest they don't resemble the traditional style, and are suited better to the natives of your collection. Considering the PK pots I have seen command a higher price than an equivalent high-quality, hand-crafted, signed Tokoname, I am guessing it all comes down to personal taste in the end.
Which is great! - each to their own. :)
Last edited by wrcmad on June 15th, 2015, 8:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Tokoname: I don't get it. Whats the big deal?

Post by Rory » June 15th, 2015, 10:51 pm

wrcmad wrote:
Rory wrote: I myself just don't see the fascination that is associated and still see them as a hyped status symbol. As stated in replies, it is not a reason that I cannot afford the pots to question their worthiness, nor that I feel they are worth more for their history or tale. As also stated, you can pay a premium for any pot from any potter in any country, depending on their perceived beauty, and to a lesser extent, their effort and costs put into each pot. Reading the replies, it seems that some appreciate the Tokoname pots because of their history of the pot making city, the history of each potter and the love that they hold for their profession and their heritage that makes these uniquely rare, and often old pots so desired and collectable.

For me however, the above paragraph highlights (in my opinion) reasons for why I feel the pots are over-rated. I too feel that a pot is certainly a work of art yes, (forgetting about the history and philosophy that preceeds it), but a pot should be allowed to stand on its own merit and be critiqued without requiring a history or an appreciation for this history to critique the pot. If one has to learn all the history behind the pot to appreciate it, then in true essence it really is just a status symbol. I doubt that most users on this forum can honestly differentiate between these highly regarded old and unique Tokoname pots and a common less quality version. If they can, then all merit to them and I hope they appreciate them.
Your statements suggest that your opinion remains based on the presumption that the premium paid for a good Toko is solely paying for reputation, status and history.
I see it differently.
I was taking this from the replies that were given to me as reasons why the users on this forum held such high regard to these pots. I asked members to explain why they believed the pots were so superior, as I myself couldn't understand their reasoning. I was told that among other reasons it seemed to be their age and the pot being made by such professional and dedicated potters, thus I can only comment based off of what the members say is their reasoning. I'm a little confused, as I can only comment on other peoples comments when it is I that asked what their reasoning was :lost: I'm not going to include all the quotes from those who replied, but as an example from Bodhi. It is just opinions that I comment on :) :
bodhidharma wrote:It is true that Aussies are making some stunning pots and i am in the middle of purchasing one from Graham. I have a lot of Aussie pots. But, facing facts, Aussie pots are not collectable. Buy some now and put them away for 50 or so years then it is a different story. China and Japan have age, history and a proven quality. It really is as simple as that. The Chinese pot i posted is a hundred plus years old, hell, Aussie Bonsai is only 60 odd years old. And i do have some old Tokoname pots, i love them.
wrcmad wrote: It is, however, interesting that you use PK as a comparison - pots you regards as "The Holy Grail of the Bonsai World" (viewtopic.php?f=45&t=17777).
You suggest they don't resemble the traditional style, and are suited better to the natives of your collection. Considering the PK pots I have seen command a higher price than an equivalent high-quality, hand-crafted, signed Tokoname, I am guessing it all comes down to personal taste in the end.
Which is great! - each to their own. :)
To quote another member:
JaseH wrote: We have potters here making great pots. That isn't the issue. The question was why the interest in Tokoname pots.
I never mentioned Pat Kennedy until nearly all the replies included him as the central Australian potter in their replies, thus I went with him as an example of a potter whom I would buy his style regardless of whether he made the pot or someone else had made the pot, which was trying to emphasize why I feel it is blind faith to assume that because the pot has a Tokoname stamp on it that it should command admiration. This was simply a point to state that just because the pot comes out of Tokoname or bares the mark of one of their potters, it is irrelevant to pay that unless you can tell the difference. Thus, buying Pats pot, or an immitation of his pot is irrelevant to me. And I feel that you can buy many classical unglazed pots elsewhere if you so desire. I never said that Pat alone was a replacement for a Tokoname pot, but I'm not sure if you have seen all of Pats work, or the numerous Australian / American and other country potters who make simple pots.

Also, I am not quite sure what the constant referral to conifer growers is that they don't like Australian Potters because they are all shiny, new and glazed. I think I have ..... uhhh 4 of my 40 or so Australian pots that fall in this category. You can find just about any pot you would like or commission a potter to make a 'classically' unglazed inspired bonsai shape if that is your thing. I also own a few very simple, round but elegant pots of Pats, as well as some rough aged looking pots, and many raw looking pots from other potters. I have some pots from Joann that are very raw and have a very aged look to them. The facts are, we are in Australia, and my entire point was that in my opinion we place too much emphasis on importing Tokoname pots. I feel that Australian / American potters produce as good as quality if not better in my opinion... for the price you only have to pay here. I am very sorry, but I cannot believe that your PK pots command a higher price than that of what so many people here have paid for their prized Tokoname pots. Considering so many of these Toko pots seem to start at or around the $100+ mark, I think Pat may disagree with you. If you have seen otherwise, then I am actually happy to hear this.

Though, I can't directly speak for Pat, I'm sure he would disagree that the emphasis on buying Toko is a bit Loco. :tu:4

I do feel that Pat's pots are far superior for our natives yes. However, I have pots from Australian potters that would look spectacular with exotics in my opinion as well.
I could show you a pot that looks irresistible for conifers that Pat made. But I have a Casuarina that will instead snuggle into it.

The Americas have some really amazing talent as you can see below:

https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-z-FoGGQAoRk/U ... rigido.jpg
https://www.rime-ceramica.blogspot.com.au/
https://www.bonsaiempire.com/blog/bonsai-potters-america

But being in Australia, my entire thread was started to try and question the theory behind Tokoname and whether some buyers are perhaps buying the name rather than the pot.

Tokoname may be heaven to some, but yes, PK made the holy grail. Thank you for reminding us of this :aussie: And :clap: :clap: to all those fabulous Australian potters we have right here in our clubs and shows. :beer: Remember to take a gander at them next time you need that elusive pot.
Rory
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Re: Tokoname: I don't get it. Whats the big deal?

Post by thoglette » June 15th, 2015, 11:56 pm

Rory wrote: in my opinion we place too much emphasis on importing Tokoname pots. I feel that Australian / American potters produce as good as quality if not better in my opinion... for the price you only have to pay here.
I like wine. I can't afford really, really good Bordeaux. I used to be able to afford Cullens somewhat similar wine (my bottle of '85 cost $15 - I shudder to think what replacing that would cost today :palm: ) but they have been "discovered" and are getting prices that reflect that. Now I hunt wines from grapes grown around the corner, from mom-and-pop operations, making similar wine (there's still some left) .

Likewise Leica point-and-shoots out price the Panasonic units on the used market, even if the vital parts are "the same".

Don't get me started on watches. But, case in point, you couldn't give away an ultrachron 20 years ago - now they are going for serious money. As for Piaget or Vacheron ....... :o

Then there's the SLR 5000 and GTHO. Or bakerlite radios. Or Russian Leica clones

Likewise, while the best Ozzie potters will never match the best Tokoname pots, the best work by PK's et al. will be collectable 50 years on. How silly the asking price will be is impossible to tell today.

If you were smart (or committed) you'd be doing your best Herb & Dorothy Vogel impersonation and collecting the best of the best NOW instead of complaining!
Last edited by thoglette on June 16th, 2015, 12:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Tokoname: I don't get it. Whats the big deal?

Post by Andrew Legg » June 16th, 2015, 1:55 am

thoglette wrote: Likewise, while the best Ozzie potters will never match the best Tokoname pots, the best work by PK's et al. will be collectable 50 years on.
I'm not convinced that that's a fair statement. There is no reason to suggest that Aussie potters can't or currently don't reach the standards of the Japanese pottery kilns. I've seen some lovely Australian made pots floating about on this forum, and I've seen a few dogs from Tokoname. I do however think this debate is over complicated. Visually, you must buy what appeals to you and compliments the tree. Physically you buy the best quality you can afford when a pot is important to you, and you place whatever value you want on the historical significance or age of the pot. At the end of the day you will end up paying an amount of money for a pot, and what that amount is will depend on the importance you allocate as an individual with individual tastes to the three basic cost components. If its a naff bulk-made factory Chinese pot and it makes you happy for a tenner then that's great. If its a 400 year old Chinese hand-made masterpiece of clay commissioned by the emperor for his personal collection, and you pay five hundred thousand for it, then again, if it makes you happy, that's great. Who cares. Point is, individuals place their own value on things. Figure out what yours is and run with it. Personally I have a bit of a pot fetish and about 80% of my pots are Toks. Some are dull, but I can see that they are well made. Oh, and I pretty much have to wear a nappy when I look at some of the beautiful pots in Japan. It's embarrassing! :whistle: :whistle:

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Re: Tokoname: I don't get it. Whats the big deal?

Post by kcpoole » June 16th, 2015, 8:30 am

Hi all

Can I suggest that we ignore the Age component. The discussion I believe it what makes NEW Tokoname pots better and worth more than New any other potter.
Add a substantial number of years to anything ( as Theoglette suggests) it will skew its value.


I posed the question upthread a little
can someone Quantify what makes a "great pot"?

Take 2 pots of similar size, style, clay, etc and without any identification marks, or knowing which was which, how to tell the better one of the 2. I am assuming that they are both 1st quality with no defects, What makes a Tokoname pot better?

Pat K, ( or any other potter) in your experience could you make a duplicate of a Tokoname pot that is indistinguishable ( aside from Chop) from the original?
if not, why?
Ken
Last edited by kcpoole on June 16th, 2015, 8:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tokoname: I don't get it. Whats the big deal?

Post by JaseH » June 16th, 2015, 8:39 am

kcpoole wrote:Hi all

Can I suggest that we ignore the Age component. The discussion I believe it what makes NEW Tokoname pots better and worth more than New any other potter.
Add a substantial number of years to anything ( as Theoglette suggests) it will skew its value.


I posed the question upthread a little
can someone Quantify what makes a "great pot"?

Take 2 pots of similar size, style, clay, etc and without any identification marks, or knowing which was which, how to tell the better one of the 2. I am assuming that they are both 1st quality with no defects, What makes a Tokoname pot better?

Pat K, ( or any other potter) in your experience could you make a duplicate of a Tokoname pot that is indistinguishable ( aside from Chop) from the original?
if not, why?
Ken
Ken, I'm not of the opinion they are worth more. Have you priced large hand made rectangle pots from a local artist? If you can find them locally? I know large rectangle pots from the US or EU are priced well above the equivelant to what I could buy from a Tokoname kiln. We're not talking smaller wheel thrown circle pots or ovals, actual hand built or press moulded shapes that cannot be thrown on a wheel - they take a lot of time and effort(hours) to make. I know because I've been experimenting lately to try. What's a potters time and materials worth? It doesnt take a long time to clock up $100+ in labour, not to mention materials and overheads.

This seems to be an issue over personal tastes, not quality or price or age etc.
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Re: Tokoname: I don't get it. Whats the big deal?

Post by kcpoole » June 16th, 2015, 9:03 am

Jason I agree that it is really hard to compete on price, but I am not really talking about price.

I would like someone to quantify ( if possible). What makes a good Tokoname pot.
Grant mentioned that he is going over to buy a couple of pallets of pots, but also mentioned that he cannot get pots big enough in Australia. Fair enough, but my Question to Grant, is your pallets going to be full of big stuff unavailable here?

If you are getting small ones too then I ask the question,
What makes (new) smaller size Tokoname pots better than locally produced pots? Price?, Quality? Clay types?

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Re: Tokoname: I don't get it. Whats the big deal?

Post by bodhidharma » June 16th, 2015, 9:21 am

I think variety has to come into the debate sooner or later! Japanese, and the brand Tokoname, have a greater variety of moulds to work with. They have been producing for hundred's of years and developed a brand, or style that is instantly recognisable. Some of the more modern pots that they have produced, probably to appeal to a wider market, or trying to develop a more modern style, are nowhere near as appealing as their more traditional one's. Yixing in China are in the same category in that they have a huge amount of variety which appeals to the eye. In Australia we have not developed that yet. Only through time and experience do you get variety, what appeals, what doesn't.
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Re: Tokoname: I don't get it. Whats the big deal?

Post by Elmar » June 16th, 2015, 9:49 am

Wow, you truly DON'T know what you Don't know!

Feel like I should have just stayed out of this convo!
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Re: Tokoname: I don't get it. Whats the big deal?

Post by JaseH » June 16th, 2015, 9:52 am

kcpoole wrote: What makes (new) smaller size Tokoname pots better than locally produced pots? Price?, Quality? Clay types?
We are not talking about a plain black square box here. If we were then it would be easy to compare a locally produced black square box with an imported black square box and then it would be a simple matter to determine which is better. The members here that don't quite understand the Tokoname appeal, appear to be comparing them as if they were both black square boxes and one has to obviously better than the other. This isnt the case - its a hand crafted product, they can't be compared 1:1.

I own Tokoname pots which cannot be reproduced here, be it the glaze, the clay, the little detail characteristic of the maker and yes I do also buy pots because I admire the artist/maker. I also own locally produced pots which could not or won't be reproduced by Tokoname potters for the same reasons. Does that make one better than other - should I chose one over the other? No, I choose both for different reasons :D

Others here seem to have their own reasons - Grant's is his requirement for larger sizes/shapes.

I realise this forum is only a small section of the community, and I'm relatively new to the hobby, but here in Australia we don't appear to place as much emphasis on the pot aspect of the hobby as they do in Japan, Europe and the US? In EU and US they appear to have a thriving local pottery scene and just as healthy interest in imported pots. There is a lot of emphasis placed on matching pots to trees. Doesn't matter where they come from, just as long as the interest and appreciation is there! Maybe someone should pose some of these questions to Mauro whilst he is out here?
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Re: Tokoname: I don't get it. Whats the big deal?

Post by bodhidharma » June 16th, 2015, 10:27 am

JaseH wrote:Maybe someone should pose some of these questions to Mauro whilst he is out here?
NAW..he will just tell you European pots are much better :lol:
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Re: Tokoname: I don't get it. Whats the big deal?

Post by Pat K » June 16th, 2015, 10:42 am

I was hesitant about coming back into this discussion but there is one direct question I had to answer and while I'm here, I would like to clear up a few things.

No Ken, I can't make an exact copy of a pot from Tokoname and why would I want to? My pots are my invention, handcrafted and hopefully, unique. When I first played with the idea of making bonsai pots for a living, a friend, who had a bonsai nursery, said I was daft as I couldn't compete with imported pots. He couldn't understand that I didn't want to make pots similar to what was coming from Asia......my seer was English potter, Gordon Duffett.

The best of the Japanese pots are a delight and I marvel at the skill of their creators but they are not the pots I want to make.

I want to publicly thank Rory (who I have never met), for waving the flag of Ozziemade and at the same time give a raspberry to those self-styled pottery experts who fawn over not-so-wonderful imported pots but have nothing positive to say about the local produce. For goodness sake, they even make videos of Japanese potters making pots in press moulds while describing the process in hushed and loving tones!

I think I've said enough

Peace,
Pat

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