Blog&News

Cherry Blossoms!

imageTen days ago it was snowing here. Yesterday we went for a walk at lunchtime, across from the workshop, and the cherry blossoms were out in full, a beautiful cloudless warm sunny day.  Today it was windy and rainy and in a few more days all the blossoms will be gone.

Every year I come to enjoy the cherry blossoms here more and more. The countryside erupts into flurries of soft whitey-pinks from the bareness of winter and then suddenly they are gone again, as fast as they came. But while they are here now I am aware of how incredibly beautiful and pure they are, the feeling one gets from looking at them and being amongst them is really quite remarkable, almost dreamlike. Something to be treasured.

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Back to work!

It’s time for a new wood roof! The present one has lasted nearly ten years, was built with no experience and even less money. It is now at least 6 inches lower than it was when built thanks to no foundation, rotten posts and the Tamba weather! I am not a great planner and as usual am filled with a slight sense of “what am I in for?” as I start to clear out all the old wood scraps and get ready to tear the old roof down. Here goes and pray for the weather!image


Spring at last!

imageWe had our first outside breakfast of the year this morning and it felt good! A bit chilly still but lovely warm sun on our faces. Our house always seems to lag behind the change in seasons by about a month – so whilst it’s coming up to the end of March outside, with cherry blossoms looming, we’re still burning the last of the wood in the stove in the evenings inside.


Different worlds…

imageMy exhibition in Dar Yasmine, in Osaka started today. As usual it was a bit tight getting all the pots cleaned up and ready in time! Moving from the workshop so quickly to the gallery I’m always struck by the contrasts of the different worlds that pots find themselves in, from the dirt and dust of being cleaned up after the firing to the pristine white shelves and lights of the gallery. From clay to sales, it is truly an ongoing art of transformation.

 


Kamataki – Winter firing

Just finished my winter firing, well a few days ago actually, and a few days to recover. There were one or two blips but in general it seemed to go well. It rained a lot, all day and all night for several days but at least it didn’t snow as it has done before. I’ll unload the kiln tomorrow, just in time for my exhibition starting on March 12th. More to follow soon….image image image


Morning coffee

Morning view of Mt.Mitsuo

Morning view of Mt.Mitsuo

For most of this year so far I have been getting up earlier than I would have believed possible a few years ago. Up at six, let the dogs out and then walk up to the workshop. It takes about ten minutes at a speedy pace and at that time of day it is invigorating to say the least. The main reason I’m up there so early is to light the woodstove in an effort to warm the place up to a workable level and that takes a while. I give the place a quick clean up, sweep the floor and then follows one of my favourite moments of the day, that first cup of coffee. Silence all around, not many people up and about and still a whole day of potential in front of me! I savour those few minutes! It’s all downhill from there on as I head back home for breakfast with my wife and daughter,and back into the real world…before returning to a hopefully slightly warmer workshop !

数年前だと信じられませんでしたが、早起きするようになりました。6時に起きて、犬達を外に出し工房まで歩いていきます。早足での10分ほどの散歩は、体を目覚めさせてくれます。早起きの一番の理由は、工房のストーブに火を入れ、暖めておく為です。ストーブに火を入れ、掃除をした後は、1日で一番好きな時間、朝一番のコーヒーを飲みます。人々がまだそんなに起き出していない静かで、1日が始まろうとするこの時間を楽しみます。その後は、家に戻り家族と朝食をとり、工房が暖まっていることを願いながら、現実に戻っていきます。


Wood collecting !

 

Sawn up pine beams!

Sawn up pine beams!

It was quite a good week for wood collecting last week. A Mr Sakai came round to see me to ask if I wanted some old pine boards, I said I’d like to take a look so the next day he took me to this beautiful 120 year old house 10 minutes down the road. He’s the contractor on a major refurbishment job, and out the back was a barn with a dozen 4m x 12inch x 4inch pine beams – old, good wood, full of resin and well dried – just what I need to finish off a winter firing!

Then a couple of days later another call, did I want some pine trees an electrical company just cut down? Yes please! So next morning at 7.30 Mr Tagawa brought them along in his truck and we off loaded them up at the workshop. Very fresh and wet so they’ll be drying for a while, but nice wood.

I almost never say no to an offer of wood and over the years many people have helped me out, sometimes with a little, sometimes with a lot but it all

adds up and I’m always grateful for it. Thank you people!

Fresh pine and oak (kunugi)!!

Fresh pine and oak (kunugi)!!

先週は、良いニュースが入りました。近所の大工さんより、木があるよと連絡をもらい、行った現場が120年前のとても綺麗な家。そこで、よく乾いた古い木をいただきました。

そして、数日後同じ村の人から、木があるよ〜と連絡が入り、次の日にクヌギと松が届けられました。

木があるけどいる?の申し出には、絶対に要りませんとは言わない。そしてたくさんの人が、声をかけてくれます。皆さん、ありがとうございます。これからもよろしくお願いします!


Started making!

imageStarted making a couple of days ago. It always takes a while to get into the swing of things and I usually start off with something small to flex the fingers! Yunomis this time and most of them are destined for the front end of the kiln where they’ll get lots of well molten ash !

2,3日前からロクロが始まりました。いつものことですが、ロクロ作業に慣れるまで少し時間がかかります。指のウォームアップの為、いつも小さなものから作り始めます。今回は湯呑み。窯の正面には入りどろりと溶けた灰釉をしっかり被る予定です。

 


Working through the winter.

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Wood drying under a foot of snow.

 

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Making clay with the aid of the wood stove.

We had about a foot of snow over the new year period and though it’s pretty much all gone now it’s cold and wet outside and next to impossible to make and dry clay without it freezing solid. For the last couple of years I’ve been drying the clay in the winter in front of the wood burner in the workshop and it actually works quite well so long as I keep moving the clay around to dry it evenly. It always amazes me the difference in climate between Bizen and Tamba though they are are only 2 hours apart. In 5 years in Bizen I think I saw snow settle once and that was gone almost straight away. Here we usually get 20-30cm falling maybe half a dozen times over the winter. Going down to Bizen the other day it surprised me how the kiln wood often isn’t even covered over the winter, just left out in the sun, the weather is that good. I hate to think what condition my wood would be in if it wasn’t under a roof. As it is I stack it as openly as possibe in the hope of it drying out somewhat by the spring, Still at least the workshop is nice and toasty!

年明けからの2日間は雪が積もりましたが、今はほとんど溶け寒くて湿った天気です。このままだと土は乾くどころか、凍った大きな塊になってしまうので、この2,3年は薪ストーブの前で乾かします。車でたった2,3時間なのに丹波と備前の天候は違い、備前に5年住んでた間に雪を見た事は数えるほどで、降ってもすぐに溶けてしまっていました。ここ丹波では、一冬で5,6日以上は雪の日があります。備前では冬の間、薪置き場を覆うことは無く太陽の下で乾かしますが、丹波の天候では考えられません。とにかく、次の春の窯焚きまでに薪が乾いてくれるのを願います。工房の中が薪ストーブのおかげで暖かいのが、救いです。