Wednesday, December 5, 2012

At Last, at LAST!

spouted bowls 

salad bowl 

inside with copper melt trailing 

This last firing did some really crazy stuff friends and muddy handed pottery lovers. The longer firing cycle I have been using, the one the focuses on an extended down fire after the peak temperature has been reached, did some really unexpected things to some of my glazes this time. When I first went to open the kiln last week I was expecting to see a lot of reds and patina bronze blues. Instead I was greeted by deep milky whites with trails of turquoise, purple and silver amidst the off earthy yellow of the clay body I have been using. At first I was mortified. The results were far from what I wanted. The active coloring agent in my new glazes is some type of copper oxide and The results from my longer and higher heat exposure look very similar to my playings with melting copper wire to my sculptures in the kiln. 

Despite my initial disappointment in my work, no father can stay away from his children for too long, and after some extended time studying I am actually very happy with the new colors I have managed to create. After all, isn't have the fun of ceramics the element of mystery the kiss of flames and heat bring to the table. That kid on Christmas morning feeling when you go to open up the kiln for the first time. It's the best! 

More new photos will follow. I've been focusing on vase forms in the studio this week! I hope to upload some shots of them on Friday. Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Little Glaze and Back to Bisque

November is the cruelest month! It brings the promises of winter travels taking shape, the sorrows of turkey-less Thanksgivings, new friends, ever new experiences, and more classes, after school extra lessons, and night time classes that an angry bigfoot can shake a mulberry stick at. More specifically, November Mondays and Tuesdays are hell on this busy Bear's earth. None the less, my ceramics still manages to squeeze its way into these busy days. A few nice bowls and two big sculpture pieces came out of the kiln on Monday. The sculpture work will make it's way to these pages in the days that follow. I have more bowls about to go into the next glaze fire, and even loaded up the kiln again tonight for probably the last bisque fire of this year. More to come around on Thursday, I hope. Have a great week ya'll

Monday, November 19, 2012

Locked Out (I forgot to hit the publish button last week)

Happy Monday's (November 12, 2012) everyone. I'm back from last weeks Thursday Friday Tokyo trips, and I've spent quite a chunk of time, betwixed lessons and lesson planning, organizing a portfolio for potential post Japan (if that is indeed what's in my future) ceramics studies. A more indepth explination of that weighty statement will follow in perhaps several weeks or months, but for now it will have to exist as a tantalizing tid bit of a hint of possible futures. The studio is locked, and the key in no where to be found, nor is the ever friendly Tabe Sensei. Thustly, today has been decreed a pottery free day. Yet my weird mind wonders its way to inspirations every time I sit infront of this glowing box with keys. Todays inspirations come from

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fired / tired

Well today was just a dreary Monday like we've not had for some time. The sun never quite woke from its slumber today, and the promise of rain hung heavy about Susaki all day. The days themselves are getting shorter and shorting, and it is now no longer light at 5:30 when I return home from work. BUT! The light of a newly repaired kiln and successful bisque fire is brightening my days (along with all enumerable joys that fill all the non ceramic centered portions of life). The bisque was a success and the students work that got fired all survived ta boot! We've stated the glazing cycle and should be completing it within a week or so. I recently was informed that the gallery on the eastern side of Kochi where some of my work is on display has been selling several of my pots! So that was a pleasant surprise to overhear. Enjoy the photos and we'll see you as soon as I have more new work to post. Here's some pictures of some of the various finished works ready for glazing and some of the new work that has just reached the bone dry stage and will go in with the next bisque fire.

Monday, October 22, 2012

2/2 Make!

Well now that you know of two weeks ago's happenings, it's time for a recap of last week. So last week was midterm at Susaki High School. This meant that my time was largely dedicated to studio time. However, with the kiln on the fritz I didn't feel hugely motivated to just create, create, create. I spent a huge chunk of my week cycling through the happy step bye step of scoop from reclaim bucket, dry on plaster bricks, wait, wedge, bag, and repeat. So help me, that bucket is empty! Although, today's pottery class began the battle anew with their bowls of slip.
Tuesday was a really productive day of wheel work. I worked specifically towards honing in on a bowl shape I am rather fond of after warming up with some yunomi and smaller coffee bowls. It was one of those rare days where centering came easily, and the clay and my hands just seemed to be on the same wavelength.
Also in the good news bracket since my post this morning I have just been informed in a friendly little message that the kiln was fixed today, and the pots are firing as I type these happy words. I trimmed the pots pictured above after school, and prepped the last of the reclaim clay for the students use throughout the week. We'll be onto a glazing cycle by the end of this week, and that means the best part is only a few weeks away! Nothing's better than opening up a fresh glaze firing, and, preferably, cradling the still slightly warm pots in your hands for the first time as finished works. I love it! Here's to hoping we're back to our regularly planned life hence forth eh! Come back on Thursday for more updates. Have a great week!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The System is Down

O'hisashiburi friends and mudd enthusiasts. The nights are beginning to develop that real Autum chill, and the persimons have come into season (they are my favorite of Japanese seasonal fruits so every Fall I gobble as many as I can, while I can). I have been busy, as always, BUT the difference being my time management / or multi tasking skills seem to have lessoned since this time last year. Finding time to actually write these lovely posts, or remembering to bring my camera to school, has been . . . spotty at best. Thustly this is the first of my attempts at 2 posts in 1 day. WHAT! you may say? You read it right folks. Consider it my way of saying I'm sorry for my deplorable postings of the past weeks. There's much to cover but we'll start where I left off. Two Fridays ago I loaded up the kiln with two shelves of work, and quite a bit of student's work as well. Everyone's been excited to see how their work will bisque, but t'was not meant to be. Late Saturday night I got a message from Tabe Sensei saying that she went to check on the firing and found the kiln flashing a message that it could not fire because the cooling system was non functional. So, we're on hold here at the home front. The estimated time for the repair is about 2 weeks. Until then I'll have to keep my hands busy with cleaning the messy studio and managing the ever swelling mound of reclaim clay (seriously that bucket never empties!).
If you are a frequent checker of this blog I have a request for you! So, I majored in English in College, and love to read. Being carried away or challenged by a good book is one fo the greatest ways to relax. Unfortunately, I've not found inspiration in a book in about 2 months. So, dear readers, leave a friendly comment suggesting a book that's really entangled you in its pages recently. Sure I could look at best sellers, or any of the other interweb resources vailable to me to find books, but I find this path a tad more interesting. Suggest away, and I'll be doing better hence forth at managing my multided of tasks and loves. See you on Thursday!

Monday, October 1, 2012

What a HOOT!

Sorry for the delays in posting, Blogger was giving me some difficulties, but we've been to couples counseling and are staring to work through our issues. I've been a mix of all to busy to be in the studio, teaching my pottery course,getting the fall and winter garden in, and managing to do short bursts of good work when I can actually get my hands in the clay. In my course my students really wanted to make coffee mugs with faces on them. I've never once attempted any type of 3-d portraits or non abstract sculpting, so I took it as a bit of a personal challenge. One student was particularly interested in me showing them how to sculpt and owl's face, and being that I'd just received and e-mail from home about the newly spotted back yard bard owl of Plum Street, WV, it seemed all too perfect an opportunity to try my hands at it. The sculpting itself was fantastically fun, and really felt like a very natural process, but obviously something in my timing or technique was off because it did not dry evenly and is now marred by cracks.
I've also been continuing to try and work bigger! This vase in the most recent attempt at larger scale workings, and I am quite pleased with the way it's turned out thus far. The new firing time table is up for this term, and we are quickly heading towards a bisque firing. I'm excited and ready to get some new pots coming out of the kiln again!
Glad to be back in the posting business. We'll see ya'll on Thursday with more new work.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Sorry for the delay in any postings recently. I've actually been fairly active in the studio, BUT Blogger has thrown a bit of a thorn before me in saying that I have filled my photo file limit. This just means I have to pay an annoying little fee to keep posting photos on this here blog. . . . Between work, and mulling over thoughts of jumping the Blogger ship in favor of some other, freer, option. I just havn't had time to write. Thinking shall continue. Enjoy your week folks.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Play with FIRE

Happy holiday Monday! So, last week I posted a link with a video of a man throwing HUGE pots, as well as the first shots of my first attempts at working larger. Well, on Friday whilst trimming I might have (to my utter horror) trimmed through the bottom of my huge pot. This yielded a squeal of terror and the quick hunt for a means to fix said mistake. The answer came from Tabe Sensei (who surprised me by hanging out in the studio as I worked and taking all these lovely photos). So, a patch of wet clay, some creative paddling with small wooden anvil, and some tender blowtorch love later and my bread bowl seems patched and as good as new. Only the eventual firing will tell.
Tomorrow is a day off from work to make up for a Saturday worked last week, and I mean to enjoy it by sleeping in, cleaning, and in general just being a homebody. If you live in Kochi I hope the rains of this weekend didn't keep you from adventures and joy. Go out and make something with you hands! DO IT!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


The week's come and gone like a flash of lightning, and as between the cracks of thunder I managed to have a wonderfully productive week in the studio. I finished trimming the dessert bowls I made last week, and am quite happy with the way they ended up. Two days ago my father sent me this a fantastic video of a man making HUGE pots. This, naturally, led to me wondering how I would do if I tried my hand at working in larger quantities of clay. I've always been a bit scared of bigger work, but this week I made some steps in the right direction for making my work big. I'm especially excited for the large bread bowl I threw today. Also finished a lovely salad or serving bowl.
The nights are starting to cool slightly, but the days remain hot. As the they roll on bye I plan on just keeping on keeping on with the work that my hands find their way into. Have just the best weekends possible!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Crossing Seas with Charles

Not much time for a big update. Tomorrow is my busy day of lessons, and I've cookies to finish baking for the English Club's surprise party for our president. I got news this week that my first international customer had successfully received his sake set. Chuck and I went to The College of Wooster together, although he was a year ahead of me.
I spent my first night ever at Wooster under the watchful eyes of he and his friends (have to credit David Wigger with being my official overnight host turned greatest of friends). In a way, the times I had with these fine gentlemen led to Wooster being my final choice. So, naturally when he sent me an e-mail asking if he could order a sake set I jumped all over it like a bear on honeycomb. Chuck forwarded me some pictures of the set in use with another mutual friend of ours Rob.
Chuck I hope the set brings you great joy! As for the rest of you I'm hoping to step back into the studio this week and finish up the bowls I threw last week as well as start on some more forms to help shake my hands back to their former selves. Have a great week folks. We'll see you on Thursday.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Back to Basics

Of all the beautiful places I've frequented in my time in Japan this view is the one where I continue to find the most peace. With the wheel before me, my neon orange apron on, and my hands submerged in a slurry of earth and water. It is such a great space. Finally had a productive day in the studio after my long vacation. Threw 12 pots of those 12 you can see the 5 that made the final cut. I'm sticking with very basic bowl forms until I've fully shaken my finger's coating of rust from these joints. It's just good to be back and working at it again. I also managed to dry and wedge about 2 or 3 kilograms of reclaim clay, and prepped the studio for the pottery class tomorrow afternoon. We'll see you all on Monday! Have a great weekend, and go out and make something! This guy watched me work all afternoon. I couldn't resist posting a photo of him.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Reboot and the Father of Inspiration

The nights are finally starting to cool from subtropical sauna to mildly warm, and I'm reflecting on a blissful but busy summer of old friends and new, travels, and adventures. I've been gone for so long it seems my hands have even developed a mild coating of rust that must be shaken off to return to making the pots I would like to be making. The coating of rust about my joints should perhaps more accurately be likened to build up of dust and grime from miles traveled because in just a short sumer I've managed to go all up and down the coast of Kochi, to Tokyo and back, up mount Fuji in the dead of night only to see the sun rise in radiant yellows and reds from it's peak. BUT! you're here to read about mud and fire.

In my various travels I managed to two absolutely lovely potter exhibits. The first was a small exhibit at the Kochi City Art Museum dedicated to functional local potters. The glazes were simple, and the work a bit heavy at times, but the I will always love any exhibit that includes a table of artists work you are allowed to touch. Picking up a piece adds so much to my appreciation of it. When I turn it over to inspect the foot and feel the weight of it's walls in my hands I feel a more direct connection to the maker. So that was a very nice touch to add into the exhibit.

And then there is the real star of this summer's ceramics findings. I went to the Japan Folk Crafts Museum, mingeikan, to see an exhibition of Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada's work. It was just a such an experience. Their works were all displayed on simple hand made furniture, and the colors, brush work, and power their pots held for me was an almost indescribable sensation. Leach's writings on pottery are borderline biblical in my minds eye. To see them in Japan was simple fantastic. The unfortunate thing about museums is that you can almost never photograph the collections. To carry his imagines to you I brought home a beautiful book of his work. I have a host of new ideas and goals, one of which is to return to sketching and drawing. Leach's brushwork and designs (specifically his animals and trees) just stuck with me as I never thought a plate with a ram or bird would. I've never even especially enjoyed ceramics with actual imagery on it. I'm much more attracted to patterns, splashes of color, fire marks, and in general things that seem a bit like fantastically controlled chaos, OCD, or nature working through man's guidance. BUT Leach's imagery and brush work hit a chord with me, and I think the only way to work on those skills is to try them. So, ready yourselves for some clumsily brushed pots in my future as I embark on a new adventure. Unfortunately, the exhibit has come and gone, but the Mingeikan is a truly inspirational museum, and I can't recommend paying it a visit with enough enthusiasm. 

And for all those fantastic things it seems there had to be a bit of an evening of the old karmic scales. 

We are gathered here today friends, to bid farewell to a personal favorite of my personal collection. It was a mistake turned into a wonderful work. It has a rim of charred copper about it's foot that gave it something far different than any of my other pots. It ruined a kiln shelf, and was one of the first pots I glazed with my current favorite iron red. It slipped from my hands whilst doing dishes Saturday morning, and I am still in mourning for it's loss.

I'm quite busy this week with the return of teaching and normal classes, but I'm really going to push to get into the studio and shake this caking rust off from my joint.

Glad to be back!

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Filled some coffee mug orders last night! Hopefully the new owners are enjoying a fresh pot from them this morning. The new forms I managed to turn out are up above. Today's the last day of prep for my friends visit and all the other big travels, presentations, and STUFF that has kept me nice and distracted from working in the studio. Sorry for the lack of new stuff. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Brief Return

 I'm back for this week with a whirl of preparations
for the up coming new JET orientation in Kochi City,
the arrival of my dear friend Marcus Liotta this Saturday, and fevered attempts at cramming in some studio time. Managed to make some new rice bowls today. The only nice thing about the summer heat is that it allows me to throw forms in the morning, dry them through the day, and trim them in the late afternoon. Hopefully the new work will be photographed and uploaded by Thursday for your viewing pleasure. Sorry about the busy summer time table, but we'll do the best we can!
                                                          It's all for the love of clay!

Monday, July 23, 2012

This station is non operational

This piece still needs a tittle. Now accepting ideas! Please post them in the comments section! 

One and a half days more of work, a night bus which promises to be far longer than I care to think on, and a good bit of line standing and I'll be ready for three days of mountains and rock my face off music.  I am headed for Fuji Rock which will  culminate with me seeing a band I have loved since I was at Hamilton Jr. High, but thought I would never have a chance to see because they broke up, BUT THEY'RE back and I can't wait to see them, and all the other bands. 

See ya'll next Thursday! 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Isogashi [busy]

This week went in a flash, and yielded no studio time. That means ceramic dreams and more photos from the last firing. Perhaps next week will be a more giving in free time. Off to English Camp for three days. Have a great weekend!