Artists with a hardcore interest in chemistry have picked apart the macro crystallization process, and come up with a number of various chemical formula designed to help artists produce the best pieces possible. That being said, most of these studies took place outside of Japan. That means that they weren’t nearly as focused on yakimono pieces as one might like. As a result, a good deal of Japanese work has been in very experimental fields.

The arts and crafts movements that took early 20th century Japanese art by storm didn’t leave much room for scientific study. These artists were more interested in putting something in a kiln and seeing what they got out of it then what a college professor said about their cements. When someone makes a piece of pottery they need some sort of a binding agent to hold it together well.

Floral vessel shwoing signs of macro crystallization

The Floral Blossom-like Patterns Present in Macro Crystallization Work are Unmistakable

Macro crystallization puts stress on the piece of ceramic that’s quite visible. Naturally any piece made this way actually looks as though it has undergone some cracking. That means the binding agent has to work particularly well. Hard plaster is sometimes added to the mix when making a piece like this because it helps to hold up. A good deal of water is also added to keep the clay from drying out.

While wetting clay is certainly a stereotype shown in movie depictions of pottery making, it actually is in sharp contrast to some techniques that allow the clay to dry out some while working with it. One of the major problems that people have with this sort of thing is that the wrong consistency or mix of minerals will cause the clay to fall apart. In a worst-case scenario, the clay could run in the kiln or even burst.

Pursuing the best macro crystallization glazes has become that much more elusive. Studies of binding agents have actually lead to the production of modern gypsum plasters, and people in some parts of Japan still practice traditional ceramic glazing techniques. Nevertheless, this is still all superfluous to what really matters.

Ceramic Platter with Visible Crystallization

Fractal Patterns can be Found in Numerous Pieces of Ceramic Art, Photo Credit: McCanless Pottery

These glazes are beautiful. They’re delicate and take a lot of skill to finish. Perseverance is required since many pieces won’t come out right. The rest, though, might end up as fine pieces of art in a gallery. Some of the finest pieces around almost appear like they’re wet more than broken. This level of mastery takes years to work up to, but it’s well worth the effort.