Tuesday 20 May 2008

Ebiya Exhibition



Saturday May 24th ~Sunday June 1st
AM 11:00~PM 7:00

I would like to invite you to my annual exhibition at Ebiya Gallery.
The opening party is on Saturday the 24th of May from 5:00pm, and I would love to see you there. I will also be in the gallery every day.

It is thirty years since I set foot upon the path of the potter, and fifteen years since my first solo exhibition at Ebiya Gallery. Expressing myself through the medium of clay has given me the chance to learn and grow, but also to share with you all the days, seasons and years of my life.
I look forward to sharing with you again this year and for many years to come.

Hope to see you there.


Sunday 18 May 2008

New Goblets

Each year my wine goblets evolve. Miyake san at Ebiya Gallery has been collecting them since my first exhibition, so this year I have made them with an ebi on them. Ebi is the japanese word for the prawn/lobster/shrimp family, and for some reason which is lost in the annals of history the Miyake sans gallery "Ebiya" translates as "Prawn vender".

I have made the bodies more enclosed this year, and added a change of direction in the stem.

The body is turned first, effectively the same as a Yunomi, but with a very narrow foot.

A texture is marked with a needle tool.

Then a small amount of water is spread on the surface.

The stems, which have been thrown like a small bottle, are dipped just on the rim in water then attached to the body which is still on the wheel.

The bottom of the stem is then cut out.

Chattering is the last step on the wheel.

After I stamp them with my logo and the mouse, I mark them with a roulette in a curve around the body.

Every line should have a start and an end, so I confirm the start with a pegging tool.

The end of the line is the "Ebi", swimming around the side of the pot.

I do hope Miyake san is pleased!

Thursday 15 May 2008

SPACE; The Final Frontier

Alas, the shelves are full. There is no room for another tea bowl or sake cup. I take this as a message from destiny that it is time to stop making. The last three days have been my final making spurt. With my Ebiya exhibition I always strive to keep making up until the death knock, because for me it is a chance to share with people my newest work. An exhibition isn't just a sale, it is an opportunity to put out my best work. Assuming that I am always learning and growing, then now is my best time and these are my best works. I have of course selected a body of work already, which are numbered and boxed ready to go, but I hope the best work will come from the last firing.

On monday I put handles on all of the pitchers, which are now dry, ready to glaze. The position of the point where the handle springs from the pot changes depending on the size of the pot. The smaller pitcher has the handle spring from the lip, giving enough space to hold the handle comfortably. The larger pitchers have the handle come from below the rim, which changes the centre of gravity making them easier to pour. I'm looking forward to getting them out of the kiln next week.

Saturday 10 May 2008

Lovely Lips

It is only two weeks until my exhibition at Ebiya Gallery in tokyo, and I'm into my last spurt of making. For the last few years I have been doing a collaborative dinner at the same time as the exhibition, but this year we have decided to do the dinner in a different season. I am therefore able to focus more on some pieces which are not related to a specific meal but which I just like to make.

I enjoy making jugs, for example, and don't make them as often as I'd like. They are not used so much in Japan, and most of the Japanese purchasers would use them as vases, but I make them to be functional. One of the points is of course the spout. I feel that a pulled spout pours well and is very beautiful.

The rim must be left slightly thicker than other forms. This thicker rim is then thinned out by first wetting it and then pinching and smoothing a section of the rim into a raised flange. Timing is important, as the pot fresh from the wheel may be too soft and the pot can distort or collapse. If the clay is too hard it will be hard to thin and manipulate and is prone to cracking. I usually wait until the sheen has left the pots, which is usally about 4 or 5 hours depending on the humidity. Ideally I would make the bodies in the morning and then spout them in the afternoon or evening. Yesterday I didn't finish the bodies till late afternoon and they were still too soft before bedtime, so I got to them first thing this morning (before the kids got up!).

Once the flange is raised, smooth the edge with a piece of soft leather, then support the outside on either side of the spout with your off hand and gentle push the spout out with the finger of your other hand. After the spouts are pulled leave the pots to dry, trim, handle and finish as normal.

There has always been debate about the ideal angle of a spout. I have found that a smooth upward curve pours well and doesn't usually dribble. Other believe that a spout should curve right over past the horizontal so that the last drip hangs on the edge without running back. I have found those spouts too prominent are prone to spreading the flow instead of focussing it and susceptible to chipping.

The Japanese phrase for something that is easy is "Asa meshi mae" which means "before breakfast". I managed to get all of them and some turning done before breakfast, which probably only means it's easier to get work done while the kids are still in bed. We enjoyed our famous Craig Dropscones with delicious Acacia honey direct from an apiarist in Nikko. 100% pure, it is clear enough to see your vegemite through.

Wednesday 7 May 2008

Puttin' on the Ritz

I was recently priveledged to receive an order from a very prestigious hotel. Apparently one of their valued guests was in search of a special, personalised gift. I was honoured to receive the commission.

The result was this left handed "Kyusu" japanese tea pot, with two matching cups. A kyusu has a handle one one side, and it is very rare to find one which can be used in the left hand. You may remember the cups from an earlier blog entry.

On each peice we have fired the logo of the hotel in gold and under the foot of each peice we have fired on the name of the customer and date.
We received a lovely note telling us how pleased the client was with the result. It has been well worth the effort.

Sunday 4 May 2008

Boys Day

Tomorrow is "Kodomo no Hi", which means "Childrens Day" but is more of a holiday for boys. Each household displays carp shaped flags or streamers to declare that they have healthy sons.

I imagine it was originally advertising for other peoples healthy daughters.

The first flag is called the "Fukinagashi" and represents a river. It bears the family crest, or in our case two family crests. Mika's is a stylized plum blossom.

The Craig crest is a knight with a broken lance with the declaration "J'ai bonne esperance", I am of good hope. It's a long story.

Saturday 3 May 2008

Mashiko Pottery Festival

It's that time of year again! Every spring the streets of Mashiko are lined with hundreds of tent displays by potters from not only Mashiko but all over Japan.

Last year 300,000 visitors passed through the festival. It is a chance for potters to display their work in front of a wide and varied audience, and for the public to meet the artists and obtain their works at direct to the public prices!

For ten days the exhibitors brave the elements, and I for my part try to make it as enjoyable as possible. It is important to have all the comforts home, like a charcoal brazier for toasting your lunch.

It also comes in handy for making the occasional pot of coffee.

But when push comes to shove, we all know the most important ingredient in any successful outdoor event. Yes, that's right folks...Ice!

So Cheers everyone, and if you in this neck of the woods, stop in for a pint.