Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fall Noborigama

The end of September meant another noborigama at Sara Yama Studios. There werent too many piece this time so only one dome of the kiln was filled but just about all of the 80 students had at least one piece inside. Here are some shots of this autumns wood kiln :)

Here are Helpers feeding the fire, there were actually too many people so we all couldn't help at once...

So those who weren't tending to the fire were assigned pulling weed duty haha.

As usual the older lady's all brought delicious home made goods, drinks and snacks.

The official temperature log, every half hour someone would record the temp to make sure the heat was steadily rising.

There were huge logs to be burned this time around.

Caught my teacher by surprise :)

More to come soon!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Book Recommendations

Since starting pottery I've bought many books for inspiration and instruction. Here's a short introduction and summary of the what I've read so far...

The Lark 500 series are great books for looking at various artist's pieces and a great starting point for inspiration. This series gives good and simple descriptions of how the pieces were made and what cone was used, wheel thrown etc. Very helpful. These books are good look books, not meant for beginners who need more step by step instruction.

My personal favorite three are

500 Bowls
Great for glaze ideas, and shapes

500 Teapots
great and unique teapots!

500 Animals in Clay
The best of the three. Fun, weird, unique, magical...really neat animals!

There are more 500 books besides these three and they are worth checking out. For a full color picture book, the price is very reasonable. Around 2500 yen each. For those in the US, finding these books is pretty simple, if you want these books and live in Japan I recommend using Kinokuniya's web book store.
(but you must use the Japanese site to order sadly) It takes around 3 weeks to receive any deliveries (since they're shipped from the US) but the wait is worth it!

After Vacation

It has been way too long since I've last posted. I took about a month off from the pottery studio letting a wrist injury rehab. I've recently been back to my normal schedule and have made many new things since being back!
I've made mostly smaller pieces like cups and plates to get back into the wheel. My wrist injury is still healing, so making larger pieces and kneading large amounts of clay is very difficult. After this injury I realized how much power I need from my wrists...I'm hoping I'll be back to normal by December.

Anyways, here are the recent pieces I've made, fresh off the wheel.

The clay is a mix of old shavings from all the types of clay I use. This batch is mostly a mix of white, black, red stone clay and red Shigaraki. I tried not to knead the clay too much so I could get a cool marbling effect. These pieces have already been shaved and glazed, they are currently in the wood fire kiln which will be fired up this Saturday!

Instead of giving people coffee cups (which I've been doing) as presents I decided to be a little more creative and make my own pots to put a small house plant in. These are two tester pots, after they dried a bit I made a thumb sized hole on the bottom. These two are also waiting in the wood fire kiln.

Actually when a piece on the wheel doesn't turn out exactly round or smooth, turning them into plant pots is a good alternative. The first pot (crinkled one above) was actually going to be a tea cup but I nudged the side which made it impossible to get it back to perfect symmetry, so I crinkled the entire thing and it actually turned out pretty neat! The second pot was also meant to be something else but I didn't make the wall even and ended up with thick and thin patches, and a lopsided top. So I went with it, and made the top look like small nubs or handles. It also turned out well.

Here are some more recent cups and small bowls. I used Bizen clay. These turned out very well, nice and thin and very light. Fingers crossed they don't crack in the bisque firing.

More to come soon!

The first picture is of an egret flower someone brought to the studio. When you look at it from above, it looks just like a white egret bird flying. Pretty cool!