Using a Clay Extruder to Create “Woven” Ceramic Baskets

At first glance, one might assume that Shuji Ikeda’s baskets (like the one at the left) are woven out of reeds. But Ikeda uses slabs and extruded pieces of clay to painstakingly construct these forms. It takes a lot of patience, but the end results are exquisite, as you can see. Shuji calls this work tsuchi kago, which literally translates to “clay basket.”

 

Today, Shuji shares how he makes his tsuchi kago. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

 


 

Weaving Baskets Out of Clay

 

Shuji Ikeda’s favorite form is the handbuilt basket. These forms blend a solid architectural stateliness with an intricate texture of coils and strips of clay that have been wrapped, braided and woven, or fashioned into delicate twigs and leaves.

 

I have been watching the evolution of Shuji’s baskets for several years now. Earlier versions were direct interpretations of Japanese flower-arranging baskets known as hanakago, which are constructed from twigs, reeds or split bamboo. His newer work shows a more personal touch. “I am trying to create a kind of metaphor by mixing two ways of mimicking nature,” he explains.

 

All parts are measured and cut from slabs and extrusions.
Joins are reinforced with extruded coils.
Once the walls are assembled, the top slab is attached.

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Once the legs are attached and reinforcement strips are added to the corners and bottom edge, notches are cut from the top for the extruded handle, and extruded coils are wrapped around the corners.
The coils are attached one by one.
The handle is wrapped with long coils.
Flat coils are carefully braided for side insets.
The braids are measured and cut to fit precisely.
To see more of Shuji’s work or learn more about him, visit www.shujiikeda.com.

 

This post was excerpted from Ceramic Art: Innovative Techniques, which is available in the Ceramic Arts Daily Bookstore.

 

Comments
  • i’m wondering what clay will withstand this kind of manipulation – looks like a kind of terra cotta. i’ve done weaving with paper clay, which this clearly is not.

  • i’m wondering what clay will withstand this kind of manipulation – looks like a kind of terra cotta. i’ve done weaving with paper clay, which this clearly is not.

  • I use a sculpture clay from Georgie’s called “Three Finger Jack” that is really great for sculpting. I’m going to try a small piece to see if this clay could be manipulated in this way. The drawing looks rather daunting.

    How did the paper clay work for you?

  • I use a sculpture clay from Georgie’s called “Three Finger Jack” that is really great for sculpting. I’m going to try a small piece to see if this clay could be manipulated in this way. The drawing looks rather daunting.

    How did the paper clay work for you?

  • I have done some weaving/braiding with clay. Just a medium grog clay. I believe the key is in the moisture level. Too wet and it will stretch and break, too dry and forget about it. Find the right moisture and be gentle.

  • I have done some weaving/braiding with clay. Just a medium grog clay. I believe the key is in the moisture level. Too wet and it will stretch and break, too dry and forget about it. Find the right moisture and be gentle.

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