Category Archives: pottery

Summertime, and the livin’ is HOT!

Took a walk out this morning with the dogs, and left around 8am in order to beat the heat. Turns out 8am doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s summer now kids, and the heat hits you like a wall when you step out the door. The 90+% humidity doesn’t help much.

The dogs, however, don’t really seem to care, they just pant harder and enjoy the walk all the same. The biggest change besides the heat, is the deafening buzz of all the cicadas which have emerged. Spring time brings the frogs and their chirping and croaking, but the summer cicadas are easily louder than the frogs. On the walk this morning one of them swept down off of a tree and landed on the towel draped over my shoulders. Once he figured out I wasn’t a tree he was off again to do his thing somewhere else.

A pot only a potter can love…

This last wood kiln firing was a real disaster. All of my large pieces cracked or collapsed completely, and all of the smaller work ended up under-fired badly. The upside to this is that they can all be refired, and I just finished the 2nd of 3 refire loads in the gas kiln this morning.

From the first refire load, my favorite pot is a porcelain teabowl glazed with rice straw ash glaze. I don’t normally work in porcelain, but in my search for bodies that vitrify a little better than the local clays, I’ve started using partly or mostly porcelain in some of my work. This particular bowl is porcelain with as much feldspar sandstone mixed in as I could manage, and still have it wedge-able.

In the wood firing it was in a spot that got a lot of fly ash, and in fact a lot of flaky ash collected inside the bowl. Making sure not to dump this, I saved it for the gas kiln and fired it to cone 11 flat. All of that ash melted really nicely, mixing with the rice straw ash glaze for some nice color.

There are several bloats on the interior, but none really fragile or severe. These bloats and the blues and greens on the interior really remind me of some the old Karatsu bowls with their warty bloated surfaces and subtle coloring of fly ash on rice straw ash glaze. Another nice thing about this pot: the fire color from the wood kiln was not lost in the gas firing. There is a nice gold luster on the  melted surface of the bare porcelain body.


This just made me sad when I saw it this morning. We had a LOT of rain over ten last 36 hours, and I think the footers sank a bit, tilting the stack forward, then dumping it. This will take some time to clean up.

** Just one quick amendment to this post: on re-reading the post and comments, I realized that I may have mislead people to believe that the stack (chimney) went over. Not so, thankfully. Just the stack of wood. No damage to the kiln other than a few scratches to the insulating top coat, and about 5 unlucky shelves that had been sitting right where the wood struck.

-Posted from iMike

Location:Taku, Saga, Japan

WIT 2012: Okamoto Sakurei

During the fourth and fifth days of the Workshop in Taku 2012: The Simple Teabowl, we were treated to pottery demonstrations by Okamoto Sakurei. He made a variety of items for us using a variety of techniques. On the afternoon of day four, we visited his studio and showroom and he honored us by allowing us to view some of the older pots in his personal collection. Breathtaking Korean bowls, and a couple of Japanese bowls. They were just amazing to hold (and maybe a little bit of fondling happened too, but mum’s the word).

Big Pot

This is the first of some large pots I would like to start working on. This one is slab and paddle work, a garden lantern. It includes holes in both sections so that an electrical line can be run, if the user prefers a light bulb to a flame. This is a test piece of sorts, it will be fired just to see how it reacts to the kiln, then I can start planning other pieces. The piece is about 140 cm tall, and probably about 20kg.

-Posted from iMike