Monday, July 31, 2006

Workshop&Lecture at Cornell University

We were very fortunate we got invited by Cornell University to give a ceramic workshop & lecture on July 13 & 14. We left Seagrove on July 10th, spent a night in VA, and drove up to NY again, and then arrived to Ithaca in the early evening on July 11th. It took 14 hours totally and was 700 miles from Seagrove to Ithaca.

Our good friend, Ed Feldman introduced us to the teacher & coordinator of Cornell Ceramic Studio, Mr. Andy Palmer who made all arrangement, and we were very happy we could make it happened.

As you know, Cornell University is one of the most well-known and prestigious school in US, and Ithaca is very beautiful area which is located in Finger lake region in the middle of NY State. We actually had come to Cornell in 2003, and visited to the university museum which has wonderful collections.

Our workshop was begun on 13th, Thursday. We brought many clay tests, local wild clays, wood fired pots as example. The most important theme for us is: appreciation of natural resources from the earth. Digging clays is very hard work and maybe not fun process for American potters, but many Japanese potters look for their own clays because clay is the first important things for ceramics. There is a Japanese proverb: No.1 is Clay, No.2 is Kiln, and No.3 is decoration.

Anyway, after introduce ourselves, materials and theme, we started demonstration. Takuro made Japanese style teapots (side handle) and a coiled jar. Hitomi made large bowls and some table wares. We both used wild clays (some are mixed) and showed how they worked. The first day workshop was done at 3:00 pm, then we all moved to the other room and started slide lecture. We showed Shigaraki photos (include Tanukis), experiences in MA, NJ, and VA, Seagrove ceramics, and so on by Power Point.

Second day, we finished pots which were made yesterday. Also we gave small hands-on workshops which were “Bamboo tool workshop” and “clay stamp workshop”. Both Hands-on were about one hour, and people really enjoyed to make something for themselves.

It was very interesting and wonderful experiences for us. It’s very hard to teach in English ( never be able to get used ) and always embarrassing if people don’t understand what we talked. But it’s better to challenge new things than to be afraid. We can learn from any mistake.

We can’t thank enough for Ed-san, Stefanie, and Andy.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Research trip to UK

It was rainy day and I was droped off at the Greensboro Airport. My trip to UK for ceramic research had just begun on Dec 25th. I was very fortunate I received the Daiwa FOundation Fellowship for the research trip. But it was bitter X'mas for Takuro and myself, people stay toghether and have fun on that day, on the other hand we were leaving.

Airplane arrived to Heathrow on Dec 26th, it was Boxing day and not much transportation, so that our friend, John Rastall who runs Harequin Gallery in Greenwich, London came to pick me up. London was very very cold, but John said it was much warmer than usual.

Harlequin Gallery:

I arrived to my friend, Dorothy Feibleman's house after one hour drive. She was my best friend and we have known each other almost 10 years. Dorothy is probably the best Nerikomi (Laminated) Porcelain Artist in the world.

Dorothy Feibleman was born in IN, USA, and after graduation at RIT, she moved to UK because, as she said, UK was between Eastern Europe and USA, and her curiosity was always in Europe till she got to know Asia. She came to Japan in '90, and decided to spend more time there. Now she has the second studio in Tokoname, Japan, and her business are in Japan, USA, and Europe. Always back and forth in the world.

The reason why I like and respect her is that she is very clear of her mission what she is supposed to: she can make the most beautiful Nerikomi porcelain on the Earth. She has talent which no one has.

Dorothy Feibleman's works

These cups are same, just different lighting. It's absolutely amazing work.

There is the world in the small Sake cup


London is always exiting city and too many things to do. There are prestigious museums and galleries, so you can't have enough time to go every place.

British Museum

Victoria & Albert Museum

Natural History Museum

Tate Modern

I had the only "Potters" book which gave me Engliish potters contact info, and I had no idea what's going to be hapened during my trip.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

NCPC Auction 2006

North Carolina Pottery Center had an annual fund raising event "Auction" on April 29th (Sat) and there were many many people who came to get ceramics by auction. All ceramic works were donated by collectors or potters and people can bid in their favorite one.

It was very interesting event for us because we don't think art auction is very common in Japan as far as we know.

In the gallery

Jazz Band!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Unloading kiln 2

It was rainy morning, and the second chamber seems cool enough for unloading, so I took down brick door in this afternoon.

There are many good results, but also bad pots.
I have learned so much from this firing which happens every single firing.

You never be able to understand wood firing, that's why people are crazy about it from long time ago.

Hitomi's bowls

Hitomi's Cups

Takuro's clay tests

He is researching local wild clays and looking for good clays for the wood firing

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Unloading kiln 1

The kiln is still warm, but we started unloading for the first chamber today. When open up the doore bricks, I was very nervous and also exited.

Suddenly many pots showed up and they looked very good.
These photo are just several works in the first chamber.

Hitomi's large bowls

Takuro's unglazed large jar

teabowl in the kiln
We will unload the second (salt) chamber tomorrow.
Can't wait to see it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The second Nobori Gama firing

We decided to have Nobori Gama firing in the end of April at NCPC, and it's been for 4 months since we had the last one.

It was right before my research trip to UK in Dec 2005 when I had the first Nobori Gama firing, very cold, nasty weather at that time. This time was also unfortunate weather because we had thunderstorm at loading kiln.

We started loading kiln on friday early evening and it's done on Saturday 7:00 pm. It took long time for just loading, but you can't cut the corner on this stage. It's very important to take time for loading because it's the key how the firing goes well.

the second chamber (salt chamber)

Started pre-heating by gas burner, it took 5 hours and we we could take rest during pre-heating.

Start making firing by thin wood from Saturday, 12:00 am. Takuro took care of it till 7:00 am. Hitomi came to Nobori Gama, then Takuro out to get sleep.

9:30 am, the fastest place of conepax reach 010, so that took our the passive dampers and closed gate damper a bit in order to make strong reduction atmosphere in the kiln. Also stoking cycle was quicker than before.

12:00 pm, Takuro in, started stoking wood from both sides alternately.

1:00 pm, our friend Joe Cole who is a Seagrove young potter came to help us, and took care of firing till 4:30 which is kind of him.

Around 4:00 pm, cone 9 & 10 started moving. We changed stoking cycle a little bit slow, so that temperature was slow climbing till 6:00 pm. This action is called "You" which means "Drank" in English. I believe it makes the atmosphere rich.

6:40 pm, started stoking wood for the second chamber as well as the first chamber. This is the busyest time for stoking.

7:10 pm, some cone 6 in the second chamber started moving, so we stoke 8 pouds of rock salt for several times in the second chamber.

7:40 pm, the first chamber was done. Stoke a large amount of wood in the fire box, then shift to the second chamber.

There are lot of defference of temperature in the second chamber, so it was hard to get even.

9:10 pm, cone 11 of door side down in the second chamber, but wall side was yet. Kept stoking wood with high pitch.

9:20 pm, we took out the second color rings from the second chamber. It looked OK, good clay color and melt salt enough.

9:30 pm, the last cone 10 down finally, and stopped firing.

It's been very tiring, hard firing for 25 hours, but we had good effect from this firing. Can't wait to see in it on Wednesday evening.

just wait for unloading

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Life in the pottery village

We have been living in Seagrove, NC since June 2005. This is the town which is well-known as one of the biggest pottery village in USA.

We used to live in Shigaraki, Japan till May 2005, as you know Shigaraki was also one of the biggest pottery town in Japan, and we see there is a big cultural difference in between.

Our life is changing every single day, and there are many things going on, so I just want to note one of them for myself, sometime, and in order not to forget.

Friday, March 03, 2006

19th NC Potters Conference

March 3,4 &5, 19th North Carolina Potters Conference is held in Asheboro, NC. 2 Australian artists, Janet Mansfield and Dr. Owen Rye, and 1 New Zealand artist, Chester Nealie, are providing workshop and lecture.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Mixed Tea Bowl Show at Harlequin Gallery in London.

The new show at Harlequin Gallery in London. They will show Tea bowls and Yunomis of following artists. Robert Ayton (UK), Gordon Crosby (UK), Shibuya Deishi (Japan), Hajimu Kato (Japan), Jack Kenny (UK), Takimoto Kokyu (Japan), Nobuo Okawa (UK/Japan), Takuro Shibata (USA/Japan), Seigan Yamane (Japan). The show will start from 29th January and close at 26th February. Go to their website for more details. If you have chance, please come and visit the Gallery.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Hitomi's show at Harlequin Gallery in London

Hitomi is having exhibition at Harlequin Gallery in London with Adam Frew who is a ceramic artist in London. She is showing wood fired pots and it will continue until Jan. 22nd, Sunday. If you have chance, please come visit the harlequin Gallery. Go to their web to get more information.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year!

We wish you have a happy new year! A new year's eve and day made me realize a lot of cultural differences. If we were in Japan we go to Hatumoude which is first visit Shrine or temple in new year and pray for good luck. But we could not do that this year. It is so unusual and strange for me. And I miss some food for new year.

But, anyway I joined party at our friends house in new year's eve and had good time.