1 (edited by chrl42 2009-05-06 06:28:36)

Topic: Basic Yixing clay 101

<Basic info about Yixing clay>

Clay of Yixing are mainly Jiani, Nenni and Baini.
Jiani is dark solid clay mostly used for making ceramics, vase etc..Nenni is yellow-ish soft clay. Baini is white clay that is mainly kaolinite, used to make porcelain or ceramic.

Zini 紫泥 (purple, fired is usually brown-ish) exists as small amount inside Jiani ore bed. When Zini contains so much manganese that becomes dark dots after firing, it's called Hei Xing ni(aka Tie Xing ni, Hei Xing Sha). Qing Shui ni 青水泥 originally is about method of clay manufactering, pure clay without any mixing, usually mined from mid part of ore bed, common clay. Di Cao Qing 底槽(or曹)青(or清) is from deep inside, usually reddish brown. Di Cao Qing is usually darker and heavier than Qing Shui ni. Pin Zini means mixed Zini.

Luni 绿泥 (aka 本山绿泥 Ben Shan Lu ni, Benshan means original mountain that is Mt. Huanglong) is sort of mutant silica dots, evenly found from Jiani ore bed, very rare. Duanni is also rare, coincidently when co-exists with Luni and Zini. Most Duanni today however, is from Tanxi or Hufu or intentionally mixed with Luni and Zini. Zima(sesame) Duanni has many dark dots that resembles sesame. Bai Ma Zi ni is very similar to Luni after firing but not smooth and lots of grits.

Hongni 红泥 is from Nenni ore bed. Zhuni 朱泥 is very yellow ore, more yellow, better Zhuni. Xiao Hongni is darker than yellow. Da Hongni is from Jiani ore bed, basically Zini. On Zhuni, is special clay cos it has different characteritics than other clay. Unlike other clay(Huang Long mountain), birth place of Zhuni is Zhao Zhuang mountain, which is Lao Zhuni. Zhao Zhuang Zhuni, actually is what you can find from museum. Most of Zhuni today is from Xiao Mei Yao (near Huang Long mt.) and Hu Fu (aka modern Zhuni). Da Hong Pao ni was from Huang Long mt., very popular during Qing dynasty. Real Da Hong Pao ni however, would sell no less than 500 USD. Most of DHP ni is from Fudong area recently.



<On Pin Pei (mixing clay)>

Pin Pei 拼配 can be classified as clay-mixing and chemical ingredient-mixing.

On former one, can actually enhance the quality of clay and plasticity.

Great masters such as Si Da Bin or Hui Meng Chen were actually masters of Bing Pei.
For example, the most expensive clay like Ben Shan Luni can't be used for teapot making without mixing with Zini, unless it's used for decoration. The sought-after clay like Di Cao Qing, is actually better in smoothness and color after mixing with Qing Shui ni or Zini. Pure Di Cao Qing not only requires high temperature (1240C) to be fired but also unglossy and dark. However, Zhuni is exception.

Latter is mixing with ingredients such as manganese oxide, iron oxide, copper oxide etc..
It looks good when first exhibition, but doesn't earn natural patina after long time of usage.
Also, these clays are actually fired at low temperature and smell a lot


<Chemical ingredient-contained clay>

History of this method dates back to ROC.
Due to hazardous effect and need of effectiveness, amount allowed to use limits less than 0.5%.

*Mixing with copper oxide makes artificial Duanni (yellow)
*Mixing with cobalt/chrome oxide makes bright greeness or so-called Muo Luni (墨綠泥)
*Mixing with manganese oxide makes Hei Xing ni(black-star clay), Qing Hui ni(green-grey clay) or Heini(black clay) etc..
*Mixing with iron oxide enhances redness, used for coloring of Zhuni

Chemical used clay mostly doesn't show extra dots of natural minerals but things get more complicated if mixing it with natural clay



<Characteristics of Yixing clay>

Each Yixing clay has a different ideal temperature of firing, different temp has to do with crystallization. Crystallization is important cos it will lead the clay no smell, no blot, better patina and better functioning.

1) Zini
Normal temp of firing is about 1150~1180C, Zini is rather easier clay to treat (Di Cao Qing for exception). Easy to craft, no worrying about firing. Higher temp-fired Zini turns grey-ish purple.

2) Luni
Minimum temp for Luni is about 1180C, lesser temp will lead Luni famous 'blot' or 'crack'. I've seen some sellers recall Luni pots caused by amateur firing. Luni is a clay that has no plasticity, so firing is very complex and requires experience. So to solve this complexity, potters make 'Duanni' by mixing with Zini. Low-temp fired Luni is beige and sees a hint of green after 1200C (Duanni as well).

3) Zhuni
Normal temp for Zhuni is less than 1100C, Zhuni is of very small particle so sees crystallization at lower temp. Zhuni is a clay that shows highest rate of shrinkage. Normally over 20% and Zhuni is of mud-like clay. That makes working on Zhuni different, should make it quick with less touching. Because more trimmed or touched spot will be reflected after firing. And that's one way to discern a real Zhuni, to find a trimmed or joined spot.

4) Yao Bian (kiln color changed)
Yao Bian pots are not seen often in western market, but is one form of Yixing clay as well. Originally Yao Bian pots were of natural wood-fired effect caused by lack oxygen. Modern day Yao Bian pots are of course from intention. To make this effect, potters fire pots even up to 10 times, or mix among fire-endurable clays and fire up to 1300C, with potters' own method

一杯一杯復一杯

Re: Basic Yixing clay 101

Hi Charles,
I am interested in Yao Bian teapot.
I recently got a pot made by Hua Jian Min and would like to know more about his " special clay" and technique.
Does Yao Bian, besides visually appealing, changes the structure of the clay and perhaps the taste of tea?
Why aren't more makers producing this type of teapot?
Thanks


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Re: Basic Yixing clay 101

ck2998 wrote:

Hi Charles,
I am interested in Yao Bian teapot.
I recently got a pot made by Hua Jian Min and would like to know more about his " special clay" and technique.
Does Yao Bian, besides visually appealing, changes the structure of the clay and perhaps the taste of tea?
Why aren't more makers producing this type of teapot?
Thanks

Hua Jian Min 華建民 is Gong Yi Mei Shu Yuan (5th level), master of Gong Chun. His wife Dai Lin Lin is a master of Yao Bian.

To make Yao Bian pot, the clay should be very solid or potters mix among solid clays, most of these pots are highly crystallized, which means not absorptive and very good at keeping heat I assume, just like Zhuni.

Reason why this isn't used much is it needs a labor to make a yao bian pots. And solid clays, Jiani, Wuni, Di Cao Qing etc..quantity is small and some are not for making teapots. Most of modern clays, just crack or scorch when firing high so can't be used for making yao bian pots.

一杯一杯復一杯

Re: Basic Yixing clay 101

Hello Charles!
You have mentioned Jiani (as an ore bed) and Di Cao Qing as a specifik type of Zi Ni, but what is Wuni? Some other kind of Zi Ni?

And second question. I have seen some yao bian pots made of Duan Ni, or Lu Ni... Anyway it was a porous clay, after firing it has a burned surface and it is not really porous and absorptive any more, so it's good for making oolongs for example. But I don't know if I can call this type of clays solid. So perhaps those pots were not made of pure Duan Ni or Lu Ni, do you think potters add some other types of clay to it? It looked pretty pure... just burned, but pure...

5 (edited by ck2998 2009-02-20 04:08:56)

Re: Basic Yixing clay 101

To add, Hua Jian Min teapots uses different base clays (which I presume is the clay seen on the inside of the pot) . The clay can looked yelowish, pinkish, or greyish.

The outer surface (after yao bian) of the pot can look golden yellow, reddish-grey or even burnt grey. Some pots can have one shade on one side and assume another shade on the other side.

This is what I gather from casual conversations: The popularity of Yao Bian is relatively recent, much like abstract art. In the past, Yao Bian on a pot would imply an improperly fired one and the pot would likely be discarded.

Seems like there are many variables and complexities in Yao Bian.

Is there any particular colour that collectors usually look for?
Any other makers that I should look into?


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Re: Basic Yixing clay 101

sun_wukong wrote:

Hello Charles!
You have mentioned Jiani (as an ore bed) and Di Cao Qing as a specifik type of Zi Ni, but what is Wuni? Some other kind of Zi Ni?

And second question. I have seen some yao bian pots made of Duan Ni, or Lu Ni... Anyway it was a porous clay, after firing it has a burned surface and it is not really porous and absorptive any more, so it's good for making oolongs for example. But I don't know if I can call this type of clays solid. So perhaps those pots were not made of pure Duan Ni or Lu Ni, do you think potters add some other types of clay to it? It looked pretty pure... just burned, but pure...

Hello, wukong.

Wuni is known as Heini (black clay), extremely solid, not often used for making teapot.

On the second one, I can't really answer this one, maybe you can load some pictures next time..

一杯一杯復一杯

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Re: Basic Yixing clay 101

ck2998 wrote:

To add, Hua Jian Min teapots uses different base clays (which I presume is the clay seen on the inside of the pot) . The clay can looked yelowish, pinkish, or greyish.

The outer surface (after yao bian) of the pot can look golden yellow, reddish-grey or even burnt grey. Some pots can have one shade on one side and assume another shade on the other side.

This is what I gather from casual conversations: The popularity of Yao Bian is relatively recent, much like abstract art. In the past, Yao Bian on a pot would imply an improperly fired one and the pot would likely be discarded.

Seems like there are many variables and complexities in Yao Bian.

Is there any particular colour that collectors usually look for?
Any other makers that I should look into?

I agree with what you said, and there seems to be lots of ways of producing yao bian pots, which is good or which is better might rely on your asthetic or functionality point when choosing.

Sorry if my answer is few, but I haven't gotten into yao bian pots yet, I've found some nice wood-fired yao bian pots real pretty however.

一杯一杯復一杯

Re: Basic Yixing clay 101

OK, Wuni is Heini. But I thought Heini is just a name that used to describe clay by its colour. And can't be used as a correct name for a specific type of clay. Now I'm a little confused :-)
Let's try to make it clear.
Zisha can be divided into Zini, Luni and Zhuni. Duanni is also a specific type of clay, when Zini is mixed (in natural way) with Luni. So it's clear with Zhuni, Luni and Duanni.
Zini has these types:
- Zini itself
- Hongni
- Dicaoqing
Am I right? Is it all, or are there any other kindes of clay like wuni? And if so, where do they (which group) belong. I'm asking because I have heard many different names for clays, but I don't know how to classify them.

Another question: I suppose blue colour of teapots is made in the same way as Muo luni? By adding cobalt oxide?
Thank you very much for answers, Charles! I hope I'm not annoying you, but you're the best informed person I have ever found on the internet.


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Re: Basic Yixing clay 101

sun_wukong wrote:

OK, Wuni is Heini. But I thought Heini is just a name that used to describe clay by its colour. And can't be used as a correct name for a specific type of clay. Now I'm a little confused

Well hei xing ni and the other names for it (as I understand it) doesn't refer to completely dark clay, but rather to purple clay with dark dots - different from hei ni. I believe Charlie's trying to say that heini itself is usually created artificially by the addition of manganese oxide to some other sort of clay; not sure if there has ever been "natural" hei ni. To me, a lot of luni looks black, though, depending on the light.

sun_wukong wrote:

Zini has these types:
- Zini itself
- Hongni
- Dicaoqing
Am I right? Is it all, or are there any other kindes of clay like wuni? And if so, where do they (which group) belong. I'm asking because I have heard many different names for clays, but I don't know how to classify them.

Zini has some sub-types, which I believe, as chrl42 says, could be from different (sub) layers of clay, and also, presumably could be further refined to have a different appearance depending on how they're processed and if anything else is mixed in.

So besides the 2 you mention, you've got at least 青水泥 (qīng shuǐ ní) and hei xing ni (黑??泥), as Charlie mentioned; different layers of the same ore-bed. And even within the same subtypes, you can have a pretty broad variety of colors in terms of the color of the finished pot. I'm assuming some other clays like 渚肝泥 (zhǔ gān ní) would fall under this umbrella too (some might be pure clays from different mines; others might be a mix).

I think 拼紫泥 (pīn zǐní) is a blend of more than one clay type, and falls under "拼配", at least from what I can understand of:

“拼紫”简单来说就是:一种由两种或两种以上泥料配在一起的泥料。如果是原矿泥料配的话,就不会含有化料。紫砂泥一般分紫泥、本山绿泥和红泥三大类。

(http://www.zsgy.com/question/questionSp … x?ID=11162; in Firefox, I can't actually see this text unless I view the page source).

Not sure about 甲紫泥 (jiǎ zīní); I've only seen a couple references to it (e.g., http://www.zjs88.com/dispbbs.asp?boardI … amp;page=5)

BTW, I've seen a lot recently about 年糕土 / 甜糕土 (nián gāo tǔ / tián gāo tǔ), maybe since it's near to the Lunar New Year, which I think refers to the clay's appearance being similar to the color of the sweet kind of nian gao. Anyone know anything more about this clay?

Ultimately, you can get incredibly fussy about this stuff, down to which mine the clay is from etc. etc., but I personally find getting into too much detail about clay types, subtypes, what mines the clay came from, and so on gets a little dry, and ultimately, it's not that important to me. Sometimes sellers claim to know this sort of information, but I have a feeling that most of the time, they're just trying to make a sale. And, like a lot of stuff in tea, the unfortunate truth is that a lot of the people who know the most about this stuff have a financial stake in convincing you that their clay is special / superior. That's not to say it's a waste of time to think about this stuff at all -- actually, I wish I found it more interesting than I do -- but I do think that the people who say that it's not worth spending too much time getting really technical about clay types have a point.

That said, I'm still glad we have people discussing it on the forum. :>

sun_wukong wrote:

Another question: I suppose blue colour of teapots is made in the same way as Muo luni? By adding cobalt oxide?

Maybe it's just me, but I find that a lot of the pots with, say, blue (or bright yellow) color have a really unnatural look. With a few exceptions, I'd think that most of the pots that have a really exaggerated color are made using some sort of additive.

Some of the ones that look like peppers are kind of interesting looking:
http://forum.potsart.com/attachments/month_0901/20090109_1ee24e1b8a250d3102e9q1PvxxNuMhvf.jpg

Re: Basic Yixing clay 101

Thank you for the info, William!
As I understood from Charles article Heixingni has dark dots and it can by original (old) or artificial (with manganese).
I have seen some teapots that were named Heini by the seller and had completly black colour. But I thought they were made of common Zini, and had that colour because of manganese, and maybe because of firing with a lack of oxigen. Perhaps colour depends on how much of manganese is added to the clay? Less - dots, lot - completly black? Though the structure of the material in these cases seems different to me. When it has dots it's usualy heavy, surface is like a stone. But most of completely black teapots didn't have the same quality, they were light sometimes and didn't feel really solid.
Pinzini (as far as I know) is a type of mixed zini, it usually has some bigger particles in it. And also can have almost black colour, but maybe I'm not right.
BTW, world of zisha clays seems to me as a very interesting adventure, even bigger than teas :)

11 (edited by chrl42 2009-02-21 03:43:27)

Re: Basic Yixing clay 101

I've posted on teachat before, let me re-do it.

1. Original Heini Yuan Kuang 原鑛, is known as Wu ni 烏泥. Rather dark brown then completely dark. Very solid and tough texture. It is located above or out of Zini layer.

2. Another way to make 'black clay' is using a reduction method of firing, which is vacuumizing the clay at low temperature (under 1100C) then slowly.

3. Most of Heini on the market, all-black clays are neither of above, but containing chemical ingredients.

4. Muo Luni, 墨 Luni was born during ROC, containing less than 0.5 percent of cobalt/chrome oxide.

5. The picture william posted seems to be chemical ingredient over-used clay, (different from weak hint of color of Muo Luni).

6. Hei Xing ni is not Wu ni, it is type of Zini. Dots appeared are reported as managanese, rather than iron. Pin Zini is intentional mixed Zini, born during CR, Pin Zini always has various grades depending on what type of Zini it is mixed, many Pin Zini today just contains chemical ingredients to look like old. Pin Zini was born in hopes of looking like Tian Qing ni, a legendary clay during Qing.


Charlie

一杯一杯復一杯

Re: Basic Yixing clay 101

Thank you for answers, Charles!
Recently I have seen a teapot made from some strange material that was named 清宫御用金砂配方 by the seller.
Do you know something about this clay/mix?


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Re: Basic Yixing clay 101

sun_wukong wrote:

Thank you for answers, Charles!
Recently I have seen a teapot made from some strange material that was named 清宫御用金砂配方 by the seller.
Do you know something about this clay/mix?

I saw some pots with the material listed as that aslo, from what i could find out  清宫御用金砂配方is紫砂泥
清宫御用金砂配方is not pure 紫泥, 紫砂原料or清代的宫廷原料配方结合自己学识独特配制而成.

Re: Basic Yixing clay 101

So it seems it's just some crazy mix of sand and clay.
Anyway thanks for the answer!


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Re: Basic Yixing clay 101

chrl42 wrote:

Hua Jian Min 華建民 is Gong Yi Mei Shu Yuan (5th level)

Charles, i cannot find Hua Jian Min or Dai Lin Lin names listed in www.yxzst.com

Where can i find his grading please?

Thanks


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Re: Basic Yixing clay 101

isaac wrote:
chrl42 wrote:

Hua Jian Min 華建民 is Gong Yi Mei Shu Yuan (5th level)

Charles, i cannot find Hua Jian Min or Dai Lin Lin names listed in www.yxzst.com

Where can i find his grading please?

Thanks

Sorry, I say that from hearing by seller, I didn't search myself (there are shops who deal with them in China and Korea)

一杯一杯復一杯

17 (edited by isaac 2010-11-15 15:19:21)

Re: Basic Yixing clay 101

Thanks Charles. Your website is really useful.

There have been many assertions and i believed in all of them when i started out. Now having bought many pots from gao ji potters who are not even listed in the yixing list, lost US$750 in trusting an online vendor, i became wiser.


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18 (edited by chrl42 2010-11-20 02:12:37)

Re: Basic Yixing clay 101

isaac wrote:

Thanks Charles. Your website is really useful.

There have been many assertions and i believed in all of them when i started out. Now having bought many pots from gao ji potters who are not even listed in the yixing list, lost US$750 in trusting an online vendor, i became wiser.

Of course you know..that's not somethin to be proud of

not to say, it's not my website

一杯一杯復一杯