The last of the teabowls and some larger pieces that will go in the front to get hammered by the fire. I’ll be putting more work around the firebox this time, probably half the volume of work in this firing will be in the front stack and around the firebox. This in response to an epiphany I had after the last firing when I realized how much space was going to waste around the front, and how a change in stacking configuration would allow for easier handling of certain pieces during the firing.
This time around I’m planning to shovel embers from under the grate and toss them back into the kiln on and around the work in the front area. I also made a primary air cover that should enable us to stand at the stoke for longer periods of time without fear of being bathed in flames.
I’m in the middle of loading the kiln for the fall firing, and suddenly realized I’ve forgotten to make any firebox suitable guinomi or chawan, so spent yesterday evening and this morning doing a batch of guinomi made from what I hope is a sufficiently refractory body for the most violent parts of the kiln. Teabowls this afternoon…
I first noticed damage to things in the studio a couple months back. Gnawed on wood things, bags shredded, paper shredded, cloth chewed upon, things knocked off of shelves (including two of my Bison tools, which snapped like dry twigs.
Suffice to say I have not been happy with this visitor, but tried live traps unsuccessfully before resorting to poison.
Three days ago one of my poison packs was eaten, but no body or smell followed. This morning I came in to the studio to see this rat scamper toward the stairs, before turning around and hiding under my throwing stool. It was looking a little shaky, and I’m guessing the poison has made it sick. I must say I’m surprised the poison didn’t kill it.
I went for a bucket, and the rat went for a hiding place in some studio stuff, but left its tail exposed. After getting a stoking glove I fished it out by its tail, took it to the mountain and released it. I hope it doesn’t make any predators sick, but I didn’t have it in me to snuff it outright.
This is the first rat I’ve had in the studio. Field mice are pretty common, and they do MUCH less damage. Anyway, good riddance…
A lot has happened over the last month since the Karatsu pottery festival, mostly cleaning, shelf building, and shifting things around in the studio in preparation for the open studio event which happened this last weekend from June 19th to June 21st.
In rough chronological order, here is what has happened in May:
Plates formed over wood slabs of various sizes
We got our garden planted and our first Jalapenos soon followed!
Another type of crop: Good batch of Madara Karatsu guinomi from late April firing. Body is mostly crushed sandstone with a bit of native low iron clay to help keep things together.
In prep for the open studio event, I cleaned the deck and brickwork of the backyard. I did not realize just how overgrown with algae and moss it had become until it was clean again.
One of the worst sections, but it felt really cathartic blasting all of that green away, leaving nice clean trails of clear, brown wood.
Entrance to the yard event space, tents and blue tarps up to keep out the rain. Luckily, although it threatened a few times, it never really rained, and the last day was actually sunny and hot. This is the middle of monsoon season folks, we totally lucked out.
The spot for gamblers. 500 yen per turn, no losers. One grand prize, 15 second place prizes, 25 3rd place prizes, and 100 4th place prizes. One grand prize went out every single day of the 3 day event. Happy customers!
This discount table was a new strategy for me. Turned out to be great for turning older pots into cash and additional storage space in my studio showroom.
Knife and tool maker, really nice stuff for reasonable prices
This last week or so, from April 29 to May 5, I spent my days displaying and selling pots at a space in the pottery festival in Karatsu. This was the fourth year of the festival, and had the most visitors to date.
As display areas go, it seemed odd in the beginning: an old pachinko parlor stripped of its machines with very high ceiling and polished granit flooring. It was a huge space, even when divided between 3 kilns. My space alone was about 4 x 10 meters, as big as my entire studio.
It all ended up looking quite nice, but I had to construct some shelves in order to have enough to fill the space.
One other thing I did which I rarely do, was to have a demo space for making coil and paddle pots on my kick wheel.
It actually brought in a lot of customers, who were curious about how these pots are made.
Overall a busy week, and a pretty good one for sales. I was very pleased to have customers who were actively seeking me out after buying my pots at this show last year. One couple who had bought a couple of pots last year ended up buying ten this year! Then, just yesterday I got a phone call from a man who had purchased one of my guinomi, positively ebullient about.
Two of the three collaborative works between Nakayama Tomosuke and myself sold, giving us both a big boost of confidence about the direction we are taking with our work. The octopus incense burner is the piece that didn’t sell yet, sorry no pic for the lotus motif incense burner which did sell, along with the teapot pictured below.