SHINO GLAZES Old & New, East & West – 志野釉 – 古今東西

It is said that Shino is a simplest glaze among many other glazes. I have been interested in some Japanese Momoyama period (16th century) glazes and have tried Shino and Seto-guro (black Seto) glazes myself in wood-firing. I had fairly satisfied results but not completely. I am not an expert on glazes as most of my vessels are fired un-glazed in my Anagama and only my chawan (tea-bowls) are glazed and fired in my Raku kiln. It was Trevor, who is actively working in Woodbridge, Connecticut (USA), wrote me about his problem of shivering Shino. And it made me start studying again about Shino glazes a little more seriously. So I have done a small research with good Japanese reference books and Japanese pottery related websites.
Most Japanese books and Japanese Internet information only mentioned that feldspar 100% is for Shino glazes. After a while I found that original Momoyama Shino glaze could have been a mixture of feldspar 100% + limestone 5%.
Yet I imagine individual Japanese potters have added a small amount of raw materials to the original recipe in order to improve their results.

Trevor wrote:
Hi Gas,
…… We’ve kept up the 4 month firing cycle and are scheduled to fire between Christmas and New Year’s. The last couple firings have provided a ton of information and some good pieces. Last firing was extended by 20 hours or so beyond our normal schedule. The pieces were once-fired and for the most part, came out nicely. The major problem we had was with one particular glaze…a shino, when applied to stoneware. It shivered off many of the pots where fly ash melted. In researching for a solution….it seems that there is a problem with the silica/flux ratio in the glaze…I think we need more flux either in the glaze or the clay body. Since the pieces are firing well other than with this glaze…we’ll be adding more feldspar to this glaze. Still not sure exactly how much more flux we will add…I’m thinking maybe 5%. If you have any insights on this issue…I’d be happy to incorporate into the next batch.  …… Trevor

I went to see Svend at his solo exhibition (at Goldmark Gallery, Uppingham). I believe that he is the most experienced wood-firer in the U.K.. I asked him if he would let me have his Shino recipe and he kindly sent me his Shino information.

Hello Gas,
……My “Shino” is in fact not my glaze at all, nor was it ever meant to be a Shino. Michael Cardew was interested in nepheline syenite as a glaze material for getting bright red colours many decades before potters in the west became interested in “Shinos”. At Wenford he resurected the glaze because its other quality was that it held on glaze painted iron very well, giving crisp black/brown/rust. I used that glaze for many years when I used to paint my pots and fire them in saggars. He used to use a high iron ball clay to get reds and a low iron one to paint on.
The glaze I now use is:
20.0%   china clay,
37.5%   neph. sy.,
40.0%   soda feldspar
  2.5%   soda ash.

I used to paint it on. Now I bisque and use it much thicker and for want of a better word,
I call it Shino. …… Svend

While I was acting rather slow, I received another mail from Trevor.

Hello again Gas,
…… The last e-mail was brief and wanted to follow up with additional information.
The modified glaze recipe worked well…no shivering.
Original Formula:
46.68   Kona Feldspar
13.28   Kaolin
39.94   Spodumene  
10.62   Soda Ash

Revised (5% increase in Feldspar)
49.01   Kona Feldspar
13.28   Kaolin            
39.94   Spodumene        
10.62   Soda Ash

I can send you pics of the shivering and corrected glaze if you like. …… Trevor

Many thanks, Svend and Trevor! I am really grateful for your information.

I like Shino vessels with delightful lightness in my hands and the matt surface just like virgin snow. Using them for flower arranging and making green tea always give me an utmost pleasure.

I should not forget mentioning some important methods about Shino. It is not only the glaze but also every other factors would contribute to make lovely Shino in my opinion.
If you desire to achieve original Momoyama Shino features, it is crucial for you to have right kind of materials and techniques. You have right clay like Mogusa-tsuchi in Mino region, use saggars (for avoiding direct flames, smoke snd fly-ash), pack and fire your vessels in a wood-fire kiln very much like Momoyama style Ogama for a long firing and cooling period.
Apparently, the same Shino glaze is applied to cover Oni-Ita (from iron rich stone) for E-Shino (painted Shino), Nezumi Shino (grey sgraffito Shino) and Aka Shino (red Shino).

On the other hand, many potters in the U.K. and the States enjoy freely different kind of Shino. Their Shino seems to have gloss surface with the effects from wood-firings. I do not see anything wrong with shiny Shino with different recipe from Japanese ones. I myself still have been experimenting with Shino. I am more drawn to smoky Shino vessels in Anagama firings, and yet I might make saggers and use them in my kiln when I need to get snowy white textures.

Here’s 2 more Shino recipes from Patrick Sargent (1956-1998)
White Shino Glaze
75 Nepheline syenite
15 China clay
10 Ball clay

Orange Shino glaze
60 Nepheline syenite
40 Ball clay

….and I should be able to post Patrick ’s article soon as I am going to re-publish the article by Patrick Sargent from ‘Real Pottery’ (issue 57).

I am very much interested in Lisa Hammond’s experimental Shino in her soda firing. Lisa must have seen some really nice Shino chawan while she was staying in Mino (Japan) and working with Takahashi Ritsu (Mino potter now working in France) there. I understand that her soda kiln won’t be able to produce good white Shino but her soda firing (in her gas kiln) seemed to be working better with ‘red Shino’. She has been making many nice and exciting ’red Shino’ vessels.

Finally I am also looking forward to hearing about Shino glazes from other potters.   (G.K)

About Gas

Hi, I am a wood-fire potter, living and working in the Japanese tradition in Tring, Hertfordshire (UK). Following mediaeval potter's wisdom, I design and build simple wood-fired kilns called 'anagama' for long period of firing and 'raku-gama' for quick (glazed tea bowl) firing. My anagama firing usually takes 9 - 10 days.
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9 Responses to SHINO GLAZES Old & New, East & West – 志野釉 – 古今東西

  1. Dear Gas,Thanks for the information about Shino glaze recipes, firing methods and qualities on your blogg. I am also keen on Momoyama glaze quality and have been experimanting with Nezumi shino styles of working. I will have a look at your Rakugama kiln next.
    regards Toni Warburton
    Sydney Australia

  2. Chazz says:

    Hello Gas. I greatly enjoyed reading this post on shinos. Thank you very much. Have you tried the white shino recipe from Mr. Sargent? If possible, would you tell me at which temperature it should be fired? I would greatly appreciate it. Best regards, Chazz.

    • Gas says:

      Hello Chazz,
      I have only seen a few pots made by Patrick. I believe that his Shino recipe and materials originally came from my friend, Murray Fieldhouse (retired potter and he is 88 now) in Tring. Every time I see the pots made by Patrick, I feel some respect for his enthusiasm towards pottery.
      I am afraid, I do not know exactly what temperature he fired for his Shino. You should ask someone (potters) who have worked with Patrick. (Gas)

  3. rafa says:

    las rectas a que temperatura funden

  4. Lise Edwards says:

    Hello Gas. It seems every time I have a question about wood firing and kilns I find the answers in your blogs. Sometimes I find more questions and that’s good too. Thank you.

  5. Donna says:

    I Soo want to make my own glazes but my supplier is very adamant about me NOT doings so because of many problems with the process! I believe she just doesn’t want me to cut her out of sales! I can’t find where to buy the ingredients. Can you help? I live in Fortworth Texas .
    Thank you,

  6. Victor says:

    I know there are suppliers in Texas, but if you don’t mind paying for shipping, Cintinental Clay in Minneapolis is a great place.

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