Last summer I had occasion to visit Richard Milgrim in his Mountain Studio and asked him to pair some sake cups and Tokkuri for us. This set is making use of his signature Concord glaze (Konko-Guro) from America, with clay from Japan. The shape of the Tokkuri is that of a tea whisk, tying together the potter and the way of tea for which he is so well known. The Guinomi is sculpted with undulating hills, like the view from his studio. Each comes in the original signed wooden box. The Tokkuri is 9 cm (3-1/2 inches) diameter, 13 cm (5 inches) tall and new from the artist in perfect condition.
Richard Milgrim (b. 1955) of White Plains New York graduated Antioch College in 1979 following a year travelling in Japan and internship at the Fogg Museum of Harvard. That same year he began down a path, following a “way” as it is called in Japan, Sado or Chanoyu, the Japanese Tea Ceremony. That same year he returned to Japan, apprenticing initially under Iwabuchi Shigeya while studying at the Midorikai of Urasenke. His first solo exhibition was held in 1981, one of many, and he subsequently began to move about Japan, gobbling up styles under various masters such as Living National Treasure Fujiwara Yu, Kato Koemon and Tahara Tobei. He established his own kiln in Hiyoshi, North of Kyoto in 1984. He is probably the only foreign potter to be truly accepted into the brand conscious world of Japanese tea, and his shows frequently sell out early. From 2000 to 2014 he spit his time between Hiyoshi and a kiln he established in Concord Massachusetts, where he developed some innovative techniques and glazes now firmly a part of his repertoire in Japan. He is adept therefore with Shino, Oribe, Bizen, Seto, Karatsu and Yakishime styles. According to Richard “Since 1977 on my first arrival in Kyoto, I have been blessed with an unending flow of "deai" (encounters) that have almost been like stepping stones on the garden path, leading me into the innermost depths of the field of "Chatou" (tea ceramics).Undoubtedly the most significant "deai" was meeting Dr. Sen Genshitsu (the former 15th generation Grand Master of the Urasenke Tea Tradition), in 1979. With his guidance and endorsement over the years, including the naming of my 2 studios in both Japan-RICHADO-GAMA, and America- KONKO-GAMA, Dr. Sen has been the primary catalyst in the development of my career over the past 40 years.”