My favourite kind of shopping! Rented a truck and headed off to Bizen for a three ton load. For those who don’t know this type of clay is dug from under the rice fields in the autumn/winter, usually about 2 or 3 metres below the surface.
This particular clay, from an area called Sagarimatsu (underpine!) is very fine,black and very sticky. It gives good colour but is a little weak in the firing on it’s own so I mix in 20-30 % rough yamatsuchi, mountain clay which strengthens it and opens up the body a bit.
Clay is a finite resource for me. It doesnt come out of a bag and good clay runs out. Three years ago Mr Sumikawa dug up 100 tons of this and I picked up the last three tons yesterday. All gone now. I’ll try to use it well.
Back from our three week trip to England, back to work and getting back into the rhythm of life. It was the first time back to the uk for over two years and I took a few photos of things I found. We stopped off in London for a couple of days at the start and took a far too brief visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum. I could of course have spent hours and hours there but two young daughters weren’t having any of that so we had to speed things along.
I just spent the time looking at pots and trying to soak them in, snapping a few photos here and there. Wonderful to see so many pots I’ve seen in books over the yearseven just to get a snapshot of so many pots from so many places, throughout such a lot of history.
China. Pretty sure this is the pot in Bernard Leach’s A Potters Book I saw many years ago before I came to Japan, bit like going down memory lane looking at this one…
England. I love these old medieval pitchers. I found a wonderful book on English medieval pottery once in a second hand bookshop in Kobe, priced in shillings. Mostly jugs and pitchers ( what’s the difference?) from the 13th to 15 th century, they have something about them which is not so far from the Momoyama ware in Japan…
German pots.. all very famous, but what struck me (again) was how fresh the throwing was on this middle pot, beautiful, like it came off the wheel yesterday, and small too, would have been really fun to drink an ale or two out of these
Likewise these bellarmine wild man jugs, stoneware and saltglaze. Photos don’t do them justice, just really lovely little pots.
Last night in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, 840 km from home. Been here for the Miyagi Pottery and Ceramics Fair for the last four days and heading off back tomorrow.
It’s been quite a sobering experience to be here, where that enormous earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11, 7 years ago. Over 16,000 deaths, and over a million buildings damaged or collapsed. Hard to comprehend really. But quite strange to see the thousands of people coming to the event the last few days knowing that most have been deeply affected by it in some way.
The area around the conference hall was all under water at that time and someone told me how their car was thrown up about a metre into the air as they were driving. And of course people have told me about their pottery being destroyed. But mostly people haven’t mentioned it much.
After 4 days of non stop 24 hour rain the skies finally broke yesterday and the evening light was just stunning. The whole landscape awash in a green filter from the mountains and rice fields. Such a joy to see blue sky after so many days of grey.
This has been some of the worst weather in Japans’ recent history, to date at least 60 people have been killed, the same number still missing. Over a million evacuated. It’s shocking to see the images on tv of Kurashiki, close to Bizen, engulfed in the floods.
A local graveyard where Chihiro’s grandparents ashes are laid has been completely destroyed as a landslide swallowed it up. This kind of weather, with the mud and waste that ensues means a nightmare of a clear up job, and the scale of it is unprecedented
Reminders of the power of nature come often in Japan…