Work that remain as material shapes ”Hiroyuki Onuki, Potter”

Work that remain as material shapes
”Hiroyuki Onuki, Potter”


Pottery that uses neither a potter’s wheel nor hand crafting to create

When you think of pottery, you either think of a potter’s wheel, or a gradual process, shaping with fingers. But Onuki whom we visited, makes his work using a totally different technique.

His technique is called ”tatara zukuri” . He takes plates of clay cut into size, and forms his works by ”pasting” the parts together. In other words if he was to make a rectangular flower pot, he basically assembles the pot by cementing the 5 pieces of clay together to form the left and right, front and back, and the bottom parts together.

Building in accordance to the plan

When Nakata asked why Ounki adopted this technique, he answered ”My original background is graphic design. That’s why this technique feels natural to me. ”
Using a wheel or hand-twist technique will change the shape of the clay material as work proceeds. But by using the ”tatara zukuri” technique, he is able to utilize the flat shape and maintain the basic shape of his work as he works, and that’s appealing to his style. What’s more, Onuki always makes a design drawing. Then he makes a model of the work using paper. Using the paper as a pattern, he cuts the clay, and puts them together to shape.
”Do you always make paper patterns?” asked Nakata. ”Yes. If you work this all in your head, the resulting shape may turn out to be something totally different from what you imagined.” If the resulting form is not what he imagined to be, the work has to be done all over again. That’s why he tests his designs with paper before he starts work in actual clay.

From designer to potter

The reason Onuki turned to pottery from graphic design is because he ”wanted to do work that remains in material form”. He mainly worked on advertising design in his graphic designer days. ”Advertisements are there to advertise products. So the role of ads end rather quickly. I wanted to make something that lasts for a long time into the future.

His talents as a designer appears not just in the form of his work, but also in the decorative painting.
He takes the plants and flowers of the season into the design of the work and paints the decorations himself. The combination of colors, positioning, the subjects, are all thought out to form a harmony in the single work.

From commercial design to pottery. In spite of the change in the method of expression, I felt that within Onuki’s work is his strong passion for art and creation.


Hiroyuki Onuki
Kasam,a, Ibaraki