Several months ago, 2 American potter-friends gave me their very nice 茶碗 ’Chawan’
as friendship gifts. I got wooden boxes made in Japan and have been thinking about 銘 ‘Mei’ [a special names] for them.
I also had to name one of my Chawan for my client in the States. It will be sent to a new home in California.
I felt I am out of practice with my 箱書 ‘Hakogaki’ skills. Instead waisting my time with web net-surfing, I should be practicing 書 ‘calligraphy’ more to make myself feel confident with it again.
Posted in anagamania
I have some little pots, displayed in my room. They are pretty small objects among my larger pottery collection. Most of visitors have overlooked as their attention have gone to some large vessels in the room.
However, with interesting personal episodes [how to came in my possession and became rather important pieces], I am rather attached to the smallest trio and pick each up for a closer look from time to time.
[photos by James Hazlewood]
Siberian chill in the air, but I could find a few signs of spring in my secret woods. My kiln-site has survived through winter wind blows and I should be able to put myself in full action really soon. As I am not keen on inviting visitors here to my kiln-site normally, so far my wife and James Hazlewood (a good friend of mine) are the visitors I am happy to have from time to time.
Yet I had rather special guests to my woods in the afternoon last Saturday. David Ballantyne’s son and daughter who would particularly like to see their father’s kickwheel. Steve is an architect lives in Tring and Candy is a furniture designer works in London. Both must have inherited their father’s talent. I found that their talk and questions were forcused and very precise not only about the kickwheel but also on my Anagama ‘Moby’. Later in that afternoon, I took them to Murray Fieldhouse (he’s 90 now) who personally knew more about their father well. It seemed they found something they didn’t know previously.
I have been living and working in Tring for almost 2 decades, after leaving Highgate in London for my wood-fire pottery. I didn’t know David Ballantyne’s son was living in the same town for 15 years and also worked as the governor of Grove Road Primary school in Tring for 10 years.
His family is currently planning to launch a new website for late father (1913~1990) and that’s why Steve found me and contacted through this blog. I will let all you know the new website on David Ballantyne when it is officially launched. What a coincidence!?!
Steve told me that he has never seen a brass turntableI on father’s wheel as usually they were made of alluminum and my wheel could be one of the earliest models. And I also learnt that many potters used to call Ballantyne’s wheel ‘the Rolls-Royce of the kickwheels’ in the 50’s and 60’s and Michael Cardew took one to Africa when he was working in Nigeria.
[I would like to thank James Hazlewood for taking those lovely photos of my wheel last summer]
I am going to be rather busy with 2 Anagama projects
in summer this year.
The first project is with the International Ceramics Festival 3rd-5th July in Aberystwyth as the festival committee asked me to build (a) mini-Anagama for this renowned event.
My Mini-Anagama Workshop starts on Friday, 19th of June [2 weeks prior to the festival] and finishes on Sunday 5th of July [along with the closing of the festival.
I am going to design (a) mini-anagama, one of smallish but serious Anagama. I will be building it for all wood-fire enthusiasts. It will be a modified version of my Amagama ‘Moby’ (2014~) with Mediaeval features plus pyrometers and sidestoking holes [just in case of needing them].
The workshop will be an intensive course in 15 days. All participants will be able to learn some theories and practical skills including ‘building mini-Anagama’ ‘potting with traditional methods’ and ‘4 day wood-firing’, so all participants would [should] be able to build their own mini-anagama by themselves and enjoy own wood-firings without spending a big budget, in the very near future.
I hope I would be able to pass my knowledge on Japanese Mediaeval pottery to wood-fire enthusiasts during the workshop and my lecture at the festival.
The final application details for the workshop will be announced shortly by the official of ‘International Ceramics Festival’. I will add their details (fees and accommodations) to my posts as soon as I receive the details.
It is my only appearance in a public event this year. I hope this will be interesting enough and very unique experience for potters [and future potters].
Immedietely after the ‘Festival’ in Aberystwyth in July, I am helping Anagama building for Lawrence Barrow who took up pottery in Kyoto, Japan a few years ago. His enthusiasm made him fully committed with Japanese pottery. He is studying and working in Kyoto and Shigaraki right now. He will be building his Anagama (slightly smaller than my ‘Moby’) in Wiltshire [using the secondhand bricks from my very first Anagama ‘Moby Dick’ (1996~2011)] with a few of his own features he would like to add.
More information about Lawrence’s Anagama Project will be posted as soon as I receive more details from him.
一年の計は元旦にあり : New year’s day is the key of the year.
All wood-firers ‘Have a Prosperous Year’.
All wood-fired vessel lovers ‘Have a Great Discovery for Your Collections’. (Gas)
As I use my ‘Raku-gama 楽窯’
for firing ‘Chawan 茶碗’
only, I have been thinking about my Raku tools should be designed and made for my purpose. Just about 2 weeks ago, I got my new Raku tools made by a local blacksmith.
I had an old pair of tongs which was given as my Christmas present (I am not sure that it was my birthday present as I was born on Christmas Eve). I have been using the tongs but I wasn’t totally happy with the crudely-made tool by one of U.K. potters’ suppliers. I have a few reference on Japanese Raku firing but I didn’t want an exact copy of Japanese tools either. Only way to satisfy my wish was to design my tools myself.
Later I learnt my local blacksmith, Paul Elliott’s ‘Hammer and Tongs’ has been established since 1988 and one of his most successful iron gates can be seen at Burlington Arcade (Piccadilly in London).
In winter chill, most of my spare time is usually spent, no potting, only sorting some old pottery photos and putting them in my PC folders. I used to have comfortable winter pastime at home.
But this winter, I will carry on working alone at my kiln site in my (secret) woods. I would like to do 2 firings with my anagama ‘Moby’ and a few Raku firings by the end of May, as I have a couple of anagama building
scheduled in summer.
In June, a mini-anagama for the International Ceramics Festival in Aberystwyth and in July, a small anagama in Wiltshire for Lawrence Barrow who has been studying Japanese pottery in Kyoto for some time.
So I am likely to spend more time in the woods but I am sure that I will enjoy my solitude there as I still see some wild animals around. My only wish is that I won’t be freezed to death in my tent when it snows. (Gas)
Although I kept basic design of kiln shape, my latest anagama ‘Moby’
has several minor changes in details from the kilns I built previously.
Until now, I haven’t shown my ‘Moby’s Sutema’ 捨間. It was done a while ago. The front wall was built just as I designed and I was pleased with it. But I haven’t been very happy about the rear wall. As I originally wanted the diagram ‘A‘ wall, then I changed my mind to the diagram ‘B‘. Somehow I didn’t fancy what I did myself and the outcome at all.
Then over a week ago, I had an idea of ’Gorinto’ 五輪塔 for the rear wall. The rear wall of ’Sutema’ [diagram ‘C‘] doesn’t have to be a tight wall like the front wall with flues. My loose rear ‘Sutema’ wall has become meaningful with 3 elements of Earth(地）, Water(水） and Fire(火）. That made me happy at last.
(I had rather bad experience with the very tight rear ‘Sutema’ wall when I fired my very first anagama ’Moby Dick’ back in 1996. I had to do something to the rear wall which was working too much. I made a big hole at the back of the chimney in order to take the wall down while someone carried on stoking the wood from the fire-mouth. [someone was Mike Dodd actually] After this big operation on the rear wall, the firing went well to the end.)
“Experience is the name we give to our mistakes.”
My anagama ‘Moby’ 白鯨 doesn’t have ‘an ash-pit’, ‘side stoking holes’ and ‘chimney dampers’, so I don’t have to go up and down around my kiln very often. Just feeding the firebox is my main wood-firing work. As I would like to do a slow and long wood-firing for at least a week, I have to conserve my energy towards the end.
After completing my Anagama ‘Moby’
this summer, I have been trying to concetrate on potting at my open-air studio in the woods. Now it is time for me to prove my ‘Moby’ is almost perfect for reproducing beauty of Japanese Mediaeval vessels I admire. So I have already made my plan to fire it twice before June next year. It seems that I have no time to be in hibernation (comfortably at home) this winter.
In June and July 2015, I have a couple of commissions to build my kind of Anagama.
Firstly, As I am invited as one of the guest demonstrators to the International Ceramics Festival 2015 in Aberystwyth in Wales, I have a ‘Mini-Anagama’ building workshop, 2 weeks prior for the event. (only limited number of appricants will be accepted for the workshop – more about the course details will be announced soon) It is going to be approx. 15 foot [4.5meter] long Anagama for 4~5 day firing. (but I call it ‘mini’ as a smallest and proper Anagama I will design and build) I hope this Mini-Anagama will benefit many wood-fire enthusiasts.
And secondly, in July, immediately after Aberystwyth, I am asked to supervise an Anagama building for Lawrence Barrow (who is at the moment studying and working on Japanese pottery in Kyoto and Shigaraki) and a proper Anagama (slightly bigger than Aberystwyth Anagama) will be built for his need. He has already bought the secondhand bricks from my first Anagama ‘Moby Dick’ (1996~2011) and decided his Anagama location on one of his family properties in Wiltshire.
All photos taken by James Hazlewood