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 !


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)!!




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 !



Working through the winter.


Wood drying under a foot of snow.



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!


Happy New Year !

The drive home today

The drive home today

Happy New Year!’

It’s still the first day of 2015 and the first entry of my first ever blog…it was a beautiful morning today, I took the dogs out for a walk in the sun, by mid morning it was clouding over and this is what it was like as we headed back home after lunch and a dip in the hot spring! I wanted to start work tomorrow but it’s a crystal clear freezing night and I’ll need a bit of motivating to get up to the workshop in the morning…

Thanks to anyone  reading this, I’ll try to keep it well posted with the goings on of life as a potter in and around Tamba.