Monday 2 April 2012


I stand on the roof of the kiln shed and look out across the valley to the snowy peaks beyond. Spring has come in fits and starts, the last two days were hot on the roof. The children are laughing somewhere below me as they ride their skate boards and scooters around and around the smooth concrete floor. Thirty centimetres thickness of concrete around the edge, fifteen across the centre, reinforced to support seven tonnes of kiln. Anchor bolts set in the concrete hold the wooden frame securely down. Though a builder suggested we use 90mm x 90mm timber for the frame, we could not afford new timber, and have used timber we recycled from the demolition of Mika parents house and shed, most of which is 120mm x 120mm. During the long, snowy winter Raku and I worked inside the studio, using whatever hand tools we had to cut the mortise and tenon joints.

The weather cleared just as Lee Love came to visit, and when we put the frame up it miraculously fitted perfectly! I was afraid there would not be a single square corner in the whole building, but somehow we managed to fudge it. We then reinforced every joint with bolts and coach screws.

Had to buy new timber for the studs and boards on the roof, screwing down the 45mm square studs with 90mm screws, and the 15mm thick tongue and groove boards with 45mm screws.  The children all helped, excited to be up on the roof. Once the boards were on, however, the surface was a bit too slippery for the kids, even though I made the slope on the roof 2:5 ratio, shallower than the 1:2 ratio that the house roof is, so the asphalt paper and the corrugated iron was my job. I chose iron for the roof to keep it light, but screwed that down with 45mm screws as well. The heavy tile roof on the old house was not wise in an earthquake area. Now it should be strong enough to withstand an earthquake at least of the magnitude of last march, as well as typhoons and heavy snow. Now that spring has come, walls and windows can wait until Autumn.

As of Monday I can start getting the materials together for building the kiln. I should start actually building the kiln on Good Friday. I am nearly a potter again.

There is a poem which my father had hanging on the wall in his study when I was young. Time and again over the past few months it has run through my head. I think of it now, as Mika passes salt and sake up to me via Raku on the ladder, and I sprinkle them on the roof on the four points of the compass, thanking god for my blessings, praying for a safe future, blessing this kiln shed. It is a good roof, a beautiful shed, at least to my eyes. My father passed away back in '96 at the age of 58, I was 21 and just embarking on my career. I wonder what he would think of me now.

The evening chimes as I climb down from the roof, Mika has a beer waiting for me, it is a time to celebrate. Next week the kiln begins.


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling


  1. What a lovely post. I am glad to see that you are getting closer to being the potter that you are.

  2. I like to think your father is smiling down on you, what a wonderful poem, I'd forgotten all but the last two lines but was happy to read the others today, good luck with your rebuilding.

  3. Great looking shed. Congrats! Tearfulness at beauty of the poem.

  4. The shed looks good! Looking forward to seeing the kiln...

  5. What a wonderful news! Really enjoyed vieweing the slide show. Lovely poem too. Best of luck for kiln bulding next! xm

  6. love the roof pics!!! and happy kiln building you start today, I wish you every success at every step and know you will make a fine kiln :))

  7. J'apprécie beaucoup, "If" de Rudhyard Kipling, votre travail, votre volonté, la musique, les images de votre fils jouant de la musique et puis cette video, très sympa, bonne continuation Euan the potter.


  8. hope to be back there soon


  9. thank you- it has been some time now that I checked in...last you were in England- you have the strength and resilience to succeed in this world, you have my admiration for all you have been through- I am happy for you, and your family, you have each other- what a joy!
    thank you again for sharing your fortune in daunting times,