Thursday 31 May 2007


Night brings a different feeling to Ebiya Gallery.

I've made a new series of lamps for this show, a venture into the interior world. The light spilling from lampshades mouth is counterpointed by the glow radiating from the transluscent porcelain of the shade itself. The cast metal bases and the antique furniture give the display an "Olde Worlde" feel.

Displayed around and beneath the lamps, the functional ware shines and sparkles, reflecting the light from the naturally glazed surface.

Passers by will stop and admire the display, hopefully come back in the daytime when the gallery is open. They don't realise that inside the gallery, stretched out on a futon in the tea room, I read a book by lamplight, awaiting sleep.

Monday 28 May 2007


Were open for business! Bruce Huebner on shakuhachi and Curt Patterson on Koto, Euan in listening mode. The ebiya exhibition is open and the party was fantastic! Perhaps more japanese than japanese. Good music, good company, good pots. The food? Just wait til the photos come out!

Friday 25 May 2007

Tokyo Exhibition

It starts today! I managed to pull it all together in time, we set up the show yesterday. Despite the rough road getting here the exhibition looks great. The lamps in the street windows are superb at night and the work looks fantastic arrayed on the antique furniture.

Tonights opening party from 5:00 till 7:00pm will have a performance of Shakuhachi Japanese flute and Koto by Bruce Huebner and Curt Patterson

The dinner is all ready to go, the chef has outdone himself this year. There are still a few places available....

So where the bloody hell are you?


There was something moving inside the kiln! The second from bottom kiln shelf collapsed, potentially bringing down the whole stack. But one little hero of yunomi saved the day. It bore the weight of the whole back stack of the kiln and prevented a disaster. It was one of the limited edition of yunomi with the Ebiya seal stamped on its foot. What a hero!


This last firing was pushing the envelope. Normally I would stack one day and fire the next, but this time the schedule is too tight. I had to glaze, stack and fire in one day! Otherwise I wouldn't be able to meet the deadline. I finished stacking at 5:00pm, then fired straight through the night. Alone with the kiln, the sound of the crackling wood and roaring flames punctuated by the call of frogs and night birds. Occassionally odd sounds would come from the kiln, like something moving inside.

I finished firing at 6:30am. The rising sun saw the seger cones go down.

I guess thats what they mean by a firing squad at dawn.

Saturday 19 May 2007

Out of the fire

I opened the kiln today. It was perfect. You never know how the pots will be until you open the door.

The reds and oranges were better than I had expected, the carbon trapping at the fire face a deep purple grey.

Nature is greater than I am, its power finishes my pots for me. They are always beyond my expectations.

Only one week till the exhibition, still two firings to go.

Tuesday 15 May 2007

Hung out to dry

There is a great deal of work between wedging the clay and putting the pots out in the sun to dry. So much in fact that I didn't have time to write about it.

There are only 11 days till the exhibition and the pressure is on. Since the last entry I have been working day and night, the results of which are the three hundred and fifty pots spread out on the lawn.

With the signature dinners and the exhibition as well the volume of work is not to be taken lightly. It is however very satisfying to look at the pots arrayed like this, to stand back and say, "Now THAT'S a good weeks work!"

Each board of pots takes on a pattern and can be a beautiful thing in and of itself.

Just one more run, the glazing, the firing, the finishing to go! Not much when you say it quickly.

The wheel awaits!

Thursday 10 May 2007

Shells, Spirals and Chrysanthemums

The most important stage in the pottery process is kneading the clay. Before you can make pots from the clay it must be thoroughly mixed to an even consistency and free of air pockets. If the clay is not properly prepared, the finished pots will be flawed.

There are many methods for doing this, but the one which I use most is Spiral wedging. Pushing the clay in a rythmic rocking motion I turn the clay in on itself a little at a time. Gradually working through the whole mass, one hundred turns this way, then one hundred turns in reverse.

The clay takes on a shell like shape, and some people refer to it as shell wedging.

From a different perspective the spiral becomes obvious. The clay winding inwards to its centre in a rhythmic whirl.

The Japanese refer to it as "kikumomi" , chrysanthemum wedging, as from the opposite veiwpoint it is shaped like a chryanthemum flower.

It's interesting that the same process, the same thing, can seem so different depending on how you look at it. Things that seem so different at first can merely be other aspects of the same thing.

Having lived in Japan for most of my adult life I have come to realise that apparent differences in culture are like this also, alien and unfamiliar at first, but really just a different perspective on the same thing.

Wednesday 9 May 2007


Only a few weeks till my exhibition and dinner in Nihombashi! The first step is to clear the decks ready for the last run before the show.

Empty the damp room, clean the dust off the bamboo. Any fragments of clay from the boards at the top could fall into the pots below, spoiling the finished surface.

This room was the "kitchen" in the original building, the "doma" earth floored room where the "kamado" wood oven was. When we moved here the roof was rotten through and we could see the blue sky between the tiles. After I rebuilt it you can still see through a skylight window, but the elements stay outside for the most part. The earth floor helps to regulate the humidity in the room so the pots don't dry too quickly or unevenly.

The bamboo for the racks is from the grove on the back of our hill. I cut it between the autumn and spring equinox when the sap isn't running, so that it doesn't rot during summer. We should be getting bamboo shoots soon. The flavour and texture of fresh home grown bamboo is one of the joys of the Japanese rural life.