3. Small improvements

This is a tiny vase, and you can imagine thousands of them being produced in the workshops of Kyoto or Nagoya. Indeed pictures of those workshops show that the lower quality pieces were being produced at times by young and relatively unskilled people, while the masters concentrated on the higher end more valuable pieces.

There is surely still quite a lot of skill in producing even this object though. Once again there are butterflies in the design – an obvious choice when looking for an object that is attractive but simple to produce.

Here the first two shapes (3c and 3d) are intended to be identical, but we can see the slight variations where enamel has not been introduced properly into the narrower gaps, or has overflowed. It shows why many designs favour the simpler butterfly shape on the right (3c).

ref 3f

The ambition of the designer of this vase also shows in the design elements around the neck. The pattern below, repeated around the neck, is rather nice. It is also well designed so that it easy to fill with enamel. It is also a nice demonstration of the constant search for little design changes to make the end product more attractive, and hence more marketable.

Every workshop would be in competition with others, constantly trying to make even their lower quality vases more attractive, but design improvements would cause execution problems with a relatively unskilled workforce. As later posts will demonstrate however, this fierce competition drove some to achieve in time a superb level of skill.

Object 3. vase, height 12 cm, weight 110 gm

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