Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What I did this summer

Samos, Greece
So this summer has been a bit of a blur, really. I've got to stop doing these crazy summers and take some time out to relax. Next year!

Summer started out a tad early for me this year as we had a family gathering on the Greek island of Samos in late May and early June. Upon my return, I started on rebuilding the kiln.

I'd like to start out by giving some background on the kiln itself.

I built the first version of my kiln way back in 1995. Everything in it, except the steel braces (which I bought new), was used. Actually extremely used. I got a good deal  - "any of those bricks in that pile there are 10 cents each" was what Mike said when I asked if he had any used bricks behind the studio and gallery at the old Blue Spruce Gallery here in Bend. I think at the time a new brick cost upwards of two bucks apiece so that was good incentive. The problem was that there were very few bricks that were full bricks. Most of them were parts of bricks, and the kiln had quite the jigsaw puzzle appearance once I had used them in the kiln. I also snagged a door for a hundred bucks or so from Mike and actually have been using that door up until a few months ago. I've never been so happy to take something to the metal recyclers, that door was huge, unwieldy, and not a very good insulator by the time I got it. But, funky as that kiln was, it worked, though not without adventure.

When we moved to our current location in 1998, I rebuilt the kiln with all new bricks. And, just last summer I did a quick rebuild in order to replace the arch which was at the end of its useable life.

This past February Hank Murrow was here with Inayoshi Osamu. Hank, being the builder of some 120 kilns over the years, was asked by me for a critique of my kiln. I knew the design of my kiln was not the best in terms of insulation (resulting in long firing times and using a lot of fuel to reach the final temperature) but I did not know what I could do to rectify the situation. Hank had several suggestions, the two biggies being that the chimney was not mortared and therefore letting a lot of outside air in between the seams where the bricks met each other, and that I should add extra insulation on to the outside of the kiln and place a membrane over the insulation.
So, armed with a plan, I started on the kiln project.

Here's what the old kiln looked like:

That's the door I sort of didn't like so much. Ok, I hated it. I admit it.

Closer view of the gaps between the bricks in the chimney.
You will note that the burners are not in place in any of the photos except for the very last one way down there at the bottom. I have gotten in the habit of removing the burners and storing them in my studio between each firing to avoid them rusting. Plus, I did not want to be tripping over them while I did the rebuild.

Here's a shot of the kiln which has been torn down to the floor:

The iron frame is left in place, everything else is pulled, inspected for replacement or re-use.
As the new kiln takes shape, I am re-using many of the soft k23 bricks that have been in the kiln but are still in great shape. Any bad ones are replaced with new bricks. I would like this kiln to last for the next ten years or more, and as I was unable to really work at my usual pace, I really took the time to do everything to the very best of my abilities. It was really a boon that I did not have a production deadline until the end of August, so I was not feeling pressured for time. Eventually, of course I would feel very pressured for time, as the final stages to finish the kiln hit some snags and the project was fully completed three days before I had to fire it to meet my commitment to orders. Talk about an uptight potter. Yikes!
The arch is just underway in this shot. Note the arch form - and the saw - great tool for this job.
In the photo below, the brick work is pretty much done. I've dealt with the leaky chimney by installing a metal sleeve over the bricks, you can see it behind the kiln. At this point the kiln, the three previous times that I have built it, would have been considered to finished. The problem with the design, however, is that there are only 4-1/2 inches of brick for insulation. Most high fire kilns have a 9 inch thick wall. While a kiln with thin brick walls still works, but it takes longer to fire and costs more money to reach the temperatures required for cone 10 wares.
Ze bricks and all the dust are in the rear view mirror now!
Now the new, fun phase begins...insulating the outside of the kiln! For the side walls and arch, I've elected to use 1" thick ceramic fiber, and to add two layers so I have 2" of insulation. Even though it is thinner than brick, the fiber will provide at least as much insulation as a 4-1/2" brick.
Ceramic fiber is draped over the side walls and arch, 2" thick.
Once the fiber is in place, I covered it with sheet metal panels. This is important as the dust that comes off of the ceramic fiber is very unhealthy to breathe.
The side and top panels are in place, and the interior door is bricked in prior to installation of the outer door.
At last, it is installation day for the front panels! Rick Vecqueray from ThreeSixNine Metal Fabricators shows up with the panels and his welder. Inside these panels is 2" thick ceramic board which is also installed on the back wall of the kiln. Sparks will fly this day! Rick designed an upper door that is mounted on hinges to the kiln frame and swings upwards to open, with a latch that holds it in place while I load and unload the kiln. The lower frame is manually lifted into place and everything is held by brackets and a great latch system.
Rick welds one of the hinges on the outer door panel.
Some hours later the man behind the welding mask emerges (Rick) and the job is done!
Rick is the man, I'm so lucky to have had him do this for me.
I felt like I was in a dream during the first firing as it went so well. The firing was completed in 12 hours, compared to the normal 16-20 hours it routinely took to fire the old, under-insulated kiln. And, I used approximately one third less gas during the firing. I'm quite sure my gas bill has been cut in half. And as an added bonus, I was able to get to bed at a super reasonable hour after the firing, instead of having to kiln sit through the night and in so doing, compromise the quality and quantity of sleep when I did get it.
In the photo below, the burners are lit and the kiln is just starting to glow at the burner ports.
First firing is under way!
So. There it is. What I did this summer. I thought this project would take two weeks, and it took six. But I told myself as I was working on it, seemingly endlessly, that I would thank myself for doing all the work that I did. And after the first firing, I can say it was well worth the effort, and that I'm extremely proud of how it came out.

With thanks to Hank Murrow for his generosity in advising me with answers to many questions I tossed his way. And I'd like to suggest Fred Olson's Kiln Book (I have the first edition and there is an updated version now available) and also Mel Jacobson's fantastic book, 21st Century Kilns. (Mel's book is super!!)

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UPDATE January 2015--There is a major flaw in my kiln project. The flaw is that I put insulation over the top of the steel frame. My understanding of what happens with extra insulation is that heat travels outwards through the insulating fire bricks and into the fiber and fiber boards. If there is steel in between the two layers, it will get exposed to excessive heat that can ultimately cause the steel to fail. Many, many thanks to Vince Pitelka for bringing this to my attention - and also scaring the shit out of me at the same time...god knows what could have happened if the frame failed during a firing. The minimum would be damaged furniture and wares in the kiln, the maximum would be a fire that could have burned down my house. I can be somewhat of a catastrophic thinker, but I don't think my imagination has gotten too far out of whack in thinking of what could happen with a frame collapse at cone 10 temperatures in the 2300F degree range. Holy shit!

What I have to do now is take off the sheet metal panels and remove any insulation that is over top of the steel frame. I have fired the kiln four times since the summer, and I have my fingers crossed that there is minimal damage to the frame.

By the way, the way I found out that I had a potential disaster on my hands was from a recent thread on Clayart. Someone posted a message wondering if they could add an extra layer of insulation on the outside of their electric kiln, and responses came in saying that the metal jacket that holds the bricks in place would disintegrate in time if it was sandwiched between layers of brick and insulation. So I started e-mailing respected kiln builders to find out if this would be an issue with my kiln, and started getting really frightened by the responses. Thankfully it is an easy fix, and very likely no harm has been done to the frame. I am so glad that part of my daily reading is the Clayart group, and I encourage you to get the e-mail digest sent to your inbox each day.

I blame myself entirely for this oversight. I didn't know enough to ask about it specifically, and Hank probably presumed that I was not a moron and would have known about this kiln building no-no. Anyways, as a result I have learned a very valuable lesson about thermal dynamics. I don't know about you but I seem to have a knack for learning things the hard way :)

Pottery is unforgiving. In order to get a successful pot out of the glaze kiln, you have to perform a multitude of tasks, each one performed with utmost attention and skill. One mis-step along the way, and your pot is compromised. So it is too, with kiln building. One tiny little oversight can be catastrophic. So, I continue to learn and to thank all those who have taken the time to help me. And, in turn, I take time to help those who ask me questions.  I think most potters are generous this way, and more knowledge is to the benefit of all!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Telling it like it is: Mel Jacobson

I read the ClayArt listserv most days and wanted to share Mel Jaocbson's post from July 29, 2014. Mel has been potting and painting canvases for close to 60 years, most of those in Minnesota, and is one of my clay heroes. 

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it is a very noble profession to be a fine artist.
it is hard work, and money is hard to come by.

anyone that thinks they have talent and are willing to take
on the challenges of fine art are fine with me.

just like being a competent, professional is
amazingly hard work, and takes a great deal of discipline
to achieve.

the world at large has always been suspicious of artists.
and, since artists are free thinkers, sort of free spirits they
continue to be out of the main stream in any society.

where does the art faculty rank in any major university????
be real, they are not up with the big boys/girls...for sure.
in most cases, the lowest paid staff members.  pay means something.

of course, artists often tweak the public and sort of act
without boundaries, so the society judges them by that sort
of action and standard.  if you call your work `play` the society
will not take you very seriously.  i have argued with nils for years
about `play`...i know what he means....being open and ready to
try anything...but, the society thinks you mean...`screwing around`.
and, if you are judged by that standard...well, no one wants your work.

i have always encouraged my students, and those young people that
come to me to be `professional and set a high standard of behaviour`
for self.  your public is watching.  the more you set a high standard, the
more the public will admire you and want what you make.

it is why i sell out of my home.  it is a very high standard.  even better
than a high end gallery.  i pay myself that 50% commission.
(now passing 65% in many cases)

i want my customer base to admire me, and think of me as a
source of quality work and things that they are able give as gifts
and be proud to give them.  it takes a great deal of work to
pull that off.  you must be diligent.  it does not `just happen`.

i have never lived in the land of `artsty fartsy`.  i live in the world
of competent quality art.  it is my profession.

i listen/watch artists talk on our local pbs tv station. (sunday night)
 some are so damn
smart and good and quality that it makes me proud, then the next
one talks about `need for expression, and art conversation` that
makes me gag....dressed like freaks, covered with tattoos and ring
nose pieces,  they are jokes unto themselves.  who do they think they
impress??  not the buying public.

so, as always, it is up to the individual to make or break your art
and profession.  the world is full of `flash in the pan`
one day, gone the next.  fame for a minute. then it is `working at starbucks`.
the good ones are in for the long haul.  it is daunting. but, the best part
is...`your life is your own.`

from: minnetonka, mn
 clayart link:
new book:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Milwaukee, Wisconsin: NCECA 2014

I loved seeing the reflections of downtown Milwaukee on this building which I passed each morning on my way to the Wisconsin Center where NCECA was held.

 I didn't want to go to Milwaukee, honestly. I really thought that I didn't want to go. Too busy with mug orders. Didn't want to deal with the hassle of travel. Too expensive. Grump, grump, grump. About a week before I was to leave, Susan asked me if I was looking forward to going. "I can't wait!!!!!" I said, so enthusiastically that I surprised myself. Susan muttered "wrong answer" before leaving the room with me running after her telling her of course I would miss her while I was gone! But, the truth was, that the closer it got to NCECA, the more excited I became. For you see, I had arranged to take a semi private workshop with renowned clay and glaze expert Ron Roy, and this was the main attraction as far as I was concerned. All the rest of the conference would be fun, I thought, but having two days with Ron and a few other serious students sounded superb. And superb it was.
l-r Owen, Ron Roy, Kathi, Alex, Gabi. 
Ron has been a full time potter for 52 years now, and has written many articles and co-authored the best selling glaze book "Mastering Cone 6 Glazes". He is also active in the ClayArt group which is where I first came into contact with him. I have had the pleasure of working with Ron for a few years ever since he helped me switch from a problematic Laguna Clay body to a more reliable clay made by my favorite clay supply company, Clay Art Center in Tacoma, Washington. While I had learned a lot from consulting with Ron, I had never had the opportunity to take his two day course.
So along with a young couple from Sao Paulo, Brazil and a potter from Ann Arbor we found ourselves together with Ron for two days - three if you count the day after the glaze class when we had a free day and spent most of it together exploring the wonderful Milwaukee Art Museum and downtown Milwaukee.
The Milwaukee Art Museum is an amazing building.

A beer stein on display in the Milwaukee Art Museum. There was no sign for this piece, so I don't know how old it is. However I was really interested to see that it is apparently decorated in a similar technique to the one I use to put logos on mugs. Cool!

NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) is an annual conference that happens every year in a different city. I have only attended one NCECA previously, which took place in Seattle in 2012.
When I was at NCECA Seattle, for one reason or another, I did not go to the event on the first day as there was nothing big on the schedule other than the keynote speech. Bad choice! As I learned, the first day is the day that you want to go to the vendor's hall and spend hours talking with vendors, looking at clay tools, meeting old friends and picking potter's brains. Once the individual education sessions start, you find that there are so many that you want to take part in that you really don't have much time to get a relaxing visit in at the vendor's area. 
Meeting Tom Coleman at the Geil booth was a real thrill. I was able to pick his brain a bit on glazes  and got some good information to experiment with!
Kathi LeSueur, Mel Jacobson and Arnold Howard at the Paragon booth.
That evening the keynote speech was given by Theaster Gates who spent some of the keynote as well as his time in a round table discussion the following morning imploring the inclusion of more people of color in future NCECA conferences. It was interesting and thought provoking and I find myself even now thinking about the message he gave. I hope that NCECA puts his talk up on their youTube site as I would like to see it again and so that folks who missed it can take a look for themselves.
Theaster Gates gives the keynote speech at NCECA 2014.

There were tons of demos to watch. The hall that was dedicated to demos was always packed. 
Michael Shael demos throwing in Ballroom A.
The big highlight for me is seeing the National K-12 Ceramic Exhibition. It is absolutely amazing what is coming out of some of the classrooms across the US. As a former teacher, (though not in an art related field) I know that there are some incredibly dedicated teachers out there sharing their passion for clay with our youth.
One of the tables with prize winning ceramics by K-12 students.
I went to a round table discussion about social media and potters with Ben Carter, Carole Epp, Adam Field and Michael Kline. Michael posted the photo below which got a huge laugh from the audience. I used to spend a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook but over the past couple of years I have found that I have to be in my studio for a minimum of eight hours a day in order to meet my deadlines. I bet I don't spend more than an hour a month total anymore on social media. When Adam said that he actually spends more time on social media than he does in his studio, I thought about getting up and leaving but it was right at the end of the session! Unfortunately they did not talk about privacy and how photos posted on the various sites no longer belong to them, and they seemed to think that making a connection to their customers helped them make sales. Which is nice to think, of course, but in my experience a lot of the followers of potters' social media sites are other potters who are a) broke and b) looking for tips on how to make pottery. My philosophy is to let my work speak for itself and let others do the talking about it if they want to - I don't have time or the interest to keep trying to figure out a new way to talk about coffee mugs. While it works for me, your mileage may vary :) As Tom Waits says, "Those who know aren't talking, and those that don't know are diving across the table for the microphone". Not that I know something and Adam doesn't...I just have little choice but to work if I am going to pay my bills.

One of the great things about NCECA is the chance to connect. Not virtually, but in real life. Shaking the hand of a real person, hugging a real person, exchanging ideas with real people. Making friends. Spending time with friends. Ahh. This to me is the joy of this conference, the life of this conference, the essence. And to spend a week with nothing but clay, clay, clay and people who are passionate about it - well, that's about as close to heaven for a potter as you can get! One night I had dinner with Steven Branfman, John Baymore, John Jessiman, and Lisa Floryshak-Windman among others. I don't know who brought up the subject of "What's the biggest kiln explosion you ever saw" but let me tell you, that was a fun discussion!
Sharing ideas and inspiration - that is NCECA's strength.
Mel Jacobsen gave a stirring eulogy to Nils Lou who passed away late in 2013.

Nils Lou, one of my pottery heroes 
I watched an interesting round table entitled "Where have all the potters gone?" I found it ironic that in talk after talk that I attended, speakers said "I hope you have done a financial calculation so that you know how many mugs you will have to make every month to pay your bills". They always say this as though making a mug is the absolute worst thing that you have to do, but you have no choice if you are going to make a living working in clay. I guess I'm the luckiest potter on the planet as I absolutely love making mugs–and yes, I know exactly how many mugs I need to sell each month to pay my bills! And, just as a side note, I am curious as to why at these presentations, often references are made to Laguna Clay, but the speaker will never reference them by name. Tony Clennell said something to the effect of "You know the company that makes the clay body that starts with a letter and ends with Mix -that company. They make x million pounds of that clay every year." Why the secrecy? Is Laguna going to come after Tony and put him out of business if he says their name in public? 
An interesting round table, Where Have All the Potters Gone?
I had a wonderful lunch with Mel and his young protege Colleen Baillie, who is a junior majoring in ceramics at the University of Minnesota and also refers to herself as Mel's apprentice. I was thrilled to get her mug in the mug exchange in the ClayArt room. I look forward to seeing her work unfold in the years ahead - she is one talented young potter!
Mug by Colleen Baillie.
I stayed at a wonderful house I found through airbnb and miss my new buddy Reggie who lives with a great group of people who were kind enough to let me stay with them for a week at their house on East Potter Avenue. (The address is somewhat fantastic for a potter, doncha think?) The people of Milwaukee are among the friendliest group of people I've ever met. I really enjoyed getting to know the city and I hope to go back some day. I have, however, made a note to go back when the weather is warmer! 
Me and Reggie!

I saw this post on ClayArt this morning by Mel and I think he sums up the NCECA experience beautifully:


remember, if you dig a bit, you can find almost anything
at nceca.

it is a vast array of many things...big, small, good and bad.
it is never one thing.

it is always hard to judge the total.

i am impressed that it gets done so well.
we get around, get informed and get on buses.
the programs start and end.
you can find a few good, a few bad.

there are many ages, many talents and lots of
great folks that love clay.
what more do we want?

i always have a great time.
and, i love to piss about bs clay work. it is a part of my dna.

i am a functional potter, part of the `really old school`.
my heros are mostly dead.
and, i hated not having malcolm davis and robin hopper and
the good old boys around.
those that did not know them on a personal level really
don't care.  they are the past.   robin will be with us again soon.

i have spanned all the ages of american clay from voulkus, to shaner
to mackenzie, to ferguson and many more.
soldners antics at nceca are legend.

i miss the characters.  they laughed, got drunk and spewed on
all of us.  mostly in good will and humor.  it is a politically 
correct world now,
will not react to the hilarity of being a potter.  we are a funny bunch.
we are sort of `low brow`.  we like clay in our pants. and, we adore
wonderful pots.  it matters not who makes them..just that they are made.


As I made my way from the Wisconsin Center after Cynthia Bringle's wonderful closing lecture and slide show, I walked along Water Street to the bus stop where I would wait for the airport bus. Being in no particular hurry, I found a lovely little pub to have one last lunch in Milwaukee. As I made my way back to Water Street, I saw this and I thought to myself, with a big smile on my face, thanks Milwaukee!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Inayoshi Osamu Workshop

vase, inayoshi osamu, japanese potter
Vase by Inayoshi Osamu, approx. 5"tall (12.5 cm) Feldspar granules were wedged into the clay and melted in the high fire to glassy phase. and gold lustre was applied all over the outside  but only reveals itself on the melted feldspar granules. Otherwise, it is lavender over the clay.

On the weekend of February 15, 2014, a few very lucky potters were able to spend two days with Inayoshi Osamu, a potter visiting from Toyohashi, Japan.
Filled with a playful sense of humor and an amazing talent, Inayoshi spent two days showing us his very unique method of creating pottery, the results of which are stunning. Many of them look like rocks you would find while hiking. Yet, upon closer examination, you start wondering. How was this made? What is this? Who made this? I want to meet this guy!

incense jar - inayoshi osamu, japanese potter
Left, an incense jar (closed), with beads of gold formed on feldspar granules. Right, opened jar showing gold lustre interior. Approx. 2" (3 cm) in diameter.
Prior to his arrival in Bend, Oregon, I had spent some time looking at images of Inayoshi's work on his website and honestly I was stunned. However! I have to say that the only way to truly appreciate the genius in his work is to "see" each piece while holding them in your hands. The eyes give you one interpretation; the tactile feel give you another. Put together, you fully "see" the piece. But, don't let that stop you from looking at photos! Just try to get a chance to hold a piece - the rewards of the visual and tactile senses put together create an amazing experience.

Tea bowls by Inayoshi Osamu. Note the front bowl was fired on sea shells. Inayoshi is a genius of clays and glazes.

Most potters fire their wares twice before they create a finished piece. I had the pleasure of drinking out of one of Inayoshi's tea bowls that had been fired eight times, for fifteen hours each firing –"until it looked right" which was the answer I was given when I asked why so many firings.  His firings start with a traditional bisque and then he will do between one and seven glaze firings, at ranges between cone 1 and cone 7. He gauges the readiness of the kiln being done by the look of the pot in the kiln. He does not use cones. I for one would be completely lost if I did not use cones for my firings. What is going on here?

The Process

Inayoshi's studio in Japan is unique: right behind the studio there is a clay deposit that contains seven different clays. He processes his clay the old fashioned way, with shovel, wheelbarrow, and buckets. He laboriously cleans and mixes his clay until he gets the desired body for the work he is creating. However, for his workshops in Oregon, he used commercially prepared clay. In order to get the texture he wanted, he wedged about 10% sand into the clay.

Wedging up to 10% sand into the clay
We went to the Badlands to the east of Bend looking for rocks. I was not certain what the rocks were for, and there was a language barrier, so many of the rocks I proffered to Inayoshi were tossed amidst much laughter. However, I soon saw what the rocks were used for!

Inayoshi adds texture with a rock to a lump of solid clay.

The larger items were prepared prior to the workshop and left overnight to dry. 

To the left of the texturized clay, some of the objects used for texture. 

Inayoshi prepared his trimming tools for use the next day.

Sharpening a wooden trim tool.

Inayoshi's trimming tools.

The next day, Inayoshi showed us his unique techniques of working with wet and leather hard clay. Unlike most potters who hand build using either the coil technique or pinch pots, Inayoshi developed a way to work with solid shapes of clay which allow him to use natural objects to impress patterns without deforming the shape of the piece. In the photo below, he is cutting a small football shaped piece of clay in half after having made the patterns, which will become sake cups.
Cutting sake cups.

While the sake cup forms set up to dry, he started making a tea bowl. This is done using a wooden mold, over which a piece of material is placed to keep the clay from sticking to the wood. He presses the clay onto the mold until it is about 1/2" thick (1.25 cm), and then uses rocks, pine cones, corn or anything that he has found to press texture into the clay. 

Pressing clay onto a wooden mold to make a tea bowl.

Texturizing the tea bowl.

While the tea bowls set up, Ina scoops out the interior of the sake cups so that they are about 1/2" thick.
Sake cups with middle scooped out. Just like a cantaloupe!

A row of tea bowls, which were formed on a wooden mold, setting up prior to trimming.


While the tea bowls set up, Ina scooped out the bigger pieces.
Scooping out the larger pieces.

Day Two

When we arrived for the second day of the workshop, the pieces that Ina had started the previous day were leather hard and ready to be finished. Inayoshi started by trimming the bottoms of the sake cups. 
Trimming a sake cup - you can see the marvelous texture the sand adds to the clay.

And then he used his trimming tools to thin out the walls of the tea bowls, sake cups, and bigger pieces. When done, the tea bowls and sake cups are incredibly thin with an amazingly precise uniformity of thickness. They are an absolute pleasure to hold and use (and that ain't the sake talkin' neither!)

Trimming the inside of a tea bowl.

Using a loop tool to trim trim the inside of a sake cup.

Inayoshi brushes out the interior of the finished bowl with a stiff brush and water to give it a nice smooth surface.

The larger pieces were sliced in order to allow for Inayoshi to evenly thin the walls with his trimming tools. Here he has joined the two pieces back together. When he is finished you will not be able to see the seam. Even the interior seam is not visible - details like this are the mark of a true craftsman.

Inayoshi works on the seam.
And with a bow, Inayoshi finished a covered jar at the conclusion of the workshop.

One of the wonderful things about this workshop was the informal nature of it. And, we got to work on our own pieces. Much laughter was had and I am finding that as the days and weeks go by that I have been inspired on deep levels not only by the techniques that Inayoshi Osamu has originated and shared with us, but also by his joyous personality. I am now seemingly cursed in such a way that every time I go out for my walk that I find myself scanning the trail for rocks to take home. Susan and I were happy to have hosted Inayoshi for four nights which gave us more time to laugh, share stories, and enjoy each other's company. Inayoshi is planning on coming back to Oregon in 2016 to do more workshops which will include glazing and firing the pieces he created while here. I can't wait!

Glazing and Firing

The more I work with clay, the more I feel that it is all about the glazes and the firing. By that I mean that there comes a point in time when you become competent with wet clay and your interest turns to the composition of clay and glazes and learning different firing techniques. While this is not true for every potter, some of you out there will recognize a bit of this in your own development as a potter. So, as much as I enjoyed seeing and practicing Inayoshi's techniques of forming clay, I am very, very curious about his glazing and firing process. Ina told me that he is constantly testing glaze recipes and has many, many failures. But occasionally a glaze works, more often than not to fail in further developmental tests. But when one works!!! He and I understand each other perfectly on this level - it's all about that feeling of victory, satisfaction and blessing from the pottery gods that is so sweet, so compelling, and so addictive. So - for as much as I learned in the workshop with Inayoshi (which was a LOT) I feel that this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the knowledge that Inayoshi has, and I hope in time to learn more from this great potter.

Inayoshi Osamu: You are to pottery as Neil Young is to music. 

Thanks for coming to Bend!
The workshop gang, Feb. 15 2014 at Central Oregon Community College.

Have I taught you well enough?

Melissa works on a tea bowl.

Inayoshi, Yasuko (the amazing interpreter!) and Peter share a laugh.

Diana works on a sake cup.

Hank Murrow, who brought Inayoshi to Oregon and set up the workshop tour makes a tea bowl.
Inayoshi took photos of all the food he ate in Bend. Here, he is documenting a gummy worm from his frozen yogurt at Cuppa Yo. I can only imagine what his friends back in Japan think of Bend after seeing his photos!
This was way cool - Inayoshi brought a few 400 year old pottery shards that he found at an ancient kiln site in Japan. It was really something to hold these pieces and see how perfectly uniform they were and to feel a connection to another potter from another time.