Thursday, May 23, 2013

Drive and publicity!

Working towards goals is one of the most self empowering things you can do in your day to day life. Be they goals in fitness, education, ceramics, painting, music or competative TV staring (well maybe not so much the later) striving to better yourself is a HUGE opportinity for generating happiness. 

For my first year and a half here my work was almost 90% spontanious. I might sit down to the wheel and say, "I'm going to make a bowl", and sure enough a bowl of some type would be the result. I don't see any problem with this, however recently I have been focusing much more on creating with a designed purpose. Sketching out pots, looking through Ceramics Monthly for inspirational forms constantly, and in general being more demanding of my own creative process. The result of this is an ever growing collection of work ready to be bisqued, and the need to set goals.

Greenware ready and waiting for the bisque.

Living here in Japan I feel fairly disconnected from the pottery communities I spend most of my days reading about, and the language barrier between Japan's pottery community and myself is quite large (this is mostly my own fault for choosing gardening and pottery over studying all the time). That all being said, I've recently really been focused on finding international art competitions and calls for entry to work towards. I like having a challenge or a goal to push for, and the addition of a deadline really helps to accelerate my drive sense of purpose while in the studio. The show I'm currently working at applications for is a call for demitasse and saucer designs. So I'm expiramenting.

If you like art of all sorts, and would like to see a fantastic digital collection of up and comming artists check out Art Ascent is a great sight. Their goal is to create themed competitions for international artists to have a chance to share their work with a wider community. If you are an up and comming artist I can't recommend them enough. They put out a lot of different calls for work and their themes are ussually really interesting. My work is up on their web site, and later I will be featured in a paper publication as well. Can't wait to see a hard copy of that. The other featured artists are really great and totally worth checking out as well.

I think that's about all the news from the studio this week. Be on the lookout in the near future for more news, and hopefully a firing soon!

Go create something! Stop thinking about it and do it!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Two and a half hours north of Kochi City and then a short train ride to the east is a place where stacks upon stacks of cut and dried pine litter the streets. A place where back alleis were cobbled with the old broken bits of pottery deemed unfit for sale. Where every storefront, every window has vestles painted with flame and ash, and ever third home sprouts a 5 story chimney from a kiln shed that's taken root just behind a home. They've been digging and firing clay from the green hilsides here since the Heian period (794). The peices unearthed from the large anagama kilns are known for their red and brown shades. This little slice of pottery nerd heaven is called Bizen, and it's Japan's oldest midevil pottery town.  

Last weekend I went with Steph and a fellow pottery enthusiast named Mitch to visit this mythical place of pottery power. Due to time constraints we were only able to spend one day exporing this little hot bed of ceramics goodness, but it left a lasting impresion on me. Every corner, every wall, every store front, and even the local temple were covered in tiny hand made ceramics details.
A ceramic face  peeks out from  an overgrown wall.

The wall to the local shrine had a tile from every potter that lived in the town.

One of the many many kilns we saw just awaiting use in someone's back yard.
To walk through these streets, see the galleries (esspecially the huge one in the train station), and just be surounded by a place absolutely soaked in ceramics was such a wonderful expereince. I day dreamed as we walked, talking about the endless potential for growth I saw in a place like this, so much so that I had to be reminded of the endless potential for growth I have at my finger tips here in the ceramics studio in susaki.

Oh those Bizen colors.

We even managed to get a small hand building lesson.

I've read that it's very difficult to study in Bizen, and truly I am a full time teacher who only has time for a hobby in ceramics at the moment, but a boy's got to dream doesn't he! Our exploratiosn of the pottery center left me hungry for more, and itching to get back in the studio. I managed to sneak in enough time yesterday to build several lovely little bowls, and have plans to dash down just now and squeeze in another hour or so. Go out and find your equivilent of a pottery village! Persue what speaks to you in any way possible, and get hungry for it. little trips like last weekends help remind me why I've such a hunger for ceramics!

Thanks for reading! See you again soon.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Latest Push

I make my cup of coffee, sit in my squicky office chair, read the blogosphere updates, and scan NPR's web page for the news. Then it's down to the studio to push towards getting my hands in the clay. Working with larger mounds of clay is still challenging for my hands, and when I go to wedge it I notice my form gets sloppy the bigger the mound of clay before is. Bringing it all to center takes a bit more focus, but the real challenge comes with pulling it to the right thickness and shaping the transition from bottle neck to body. This shoulder of the peice should be such an elegant shape, but mine often wobble or flair in hopefully attractive ways. It's a continual battle to teach myself how to create the fished pots I see in a lump of clay as uposed to the finished pot the lump of clay, at times, forces me to make. It's days like this that make me crave a daily routine focused on bettering my skills under the wing of some expert. A master to study under, or even a friend to explore the trials of unknowing with. When these quiet frustrations work their way into my days I often retreat from the studio into my english classes, or perhaps into my ever growing collection of Ceramics Monthly. That magazine is my life line to the seemingly limitless potential for creativity that rests in human hands and mud.

The work is startign to pile up. Will have to do a bisque firing soon.

I realize I've been absent for a few weeks now, and I do appologize for that. My days in school have been busy, and the studio hasn't recieved as much attention as it perhaps should have. Last week my energies were spent in attempting to take some really good photos of some of my more textured and rough vase forms to send in to an online international call for entries. No high hopes on that application, but I did my best, and will keep my fingers crossed. More to come in the very near future!