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Meet Jonathan Braun, Local Artist and Master Ceramicist

By Eric Gower May 1, 2017

Meet Jonathan Braun, Local Artist and Master Ceramicist

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I first met Jonathan Braun about 12 years ago while he was playing hauntingly beautiful classical guitar at a friend’s house. Soon afterward I saw some examples of his exquisite finish carpentry and prowess with all things mechanical, including some shockingly beautiful copper handrails that have become rather coveted and appreciated here in Marin County. There’s almost nothing Jonathan can’t build with economy and grace, including this beautiful updraft kiln made of insulating fire brick, hand-built in 1982, with six natural-gas burners for accurate temperature control.

Jonathan has been perfecting his functional and minimalist ceramic art for nearly 40 years, to the delight of many people who collect his work, just up the street from Breakaway Matcha in lovely San Anselmo, CA, where Jonathan has lived his entire life (in the same house!). It’s unlikely you’ll ever meet a more careful, methodical, and artful ceramicist. We consider ourselves lucky to be his neighbor!

We’ve commissioned Jonathan to create his version of the matcha bowl, which Jonathan calls Tea Dust, an ancient glaze first used in kilns in Shaanxi Henan during the Tang dynasty. The stoneware bowls are high-fired (2400 degrees F). The clay mixture is three different clays (fireclay from the Midwest, stoneware clay from Ohio, and ball clay from Kentucky), and the primary ingredient in the glaze is called Albany Slip, a discontinued material that he still has a good supply of. The firing of the bowls takes about eight hours, and a cool down period of about 48 hours.

We have an extremely limited quantity of the Tea Dust bowl and we expect them to soon be gone.

Eric is the founder and chief matcha evangelist at Breakaway Matcha. He's also an author, ghostwriter, editor, cooking instructor, and private chef. For 16 years, he lived and worked in Japan, where he took deep dives into all things matcha, food, literature, arts, and culture. Eric is the author of three cookbooks: The Breakaway Cook, The breakaway Japanese Kitchen, and Eric's Kitchen. He lives and works in Marin County, CA.