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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

A photo diary of a ceramic artist

Hello everyone. This week our kiln is working almost non-stop. Once it becomes cool enough, I will load the next work and start it again. A busy week indeed. Here is the diary so far!


Sunday morning, Bisque-firing-1 starts early morning.

 While the kiln was on, I made another large whippet. Previous one had pinholes on the glaze.

First stage

Final whippet
 While waiting for the whippet to dry to be carved out, I built the body for this cloud.

She looks a bit like fish! : D

Even after the that (it was already after 9pm), the whippet was too soft, so I was playing with clay, and she emerged. I fell in love with her!

Mysterious girl. 


Monday morning started with drying damp guys in the oven (please don't try this at home!)

They must be dry before going to the kiln.

The kiln became cool enough to open. All bisque looks successful. Phew. What a relief!

All fired well. 
Then I unloaded the kiln. Noon, the whippet became dry enough to be fired. The kiln was loaded for Bisque-firing 2.

While the kiln is on, I have been finishing some of my other work. Wind would go to the second glaze-firing. The pink patches on her head will become blue.

 Once eyes are coloured, they transform.


The kiln became cool enough to open mid morning. They have survived firing. Sigh of relief!

Bisque-firing -2 
Then the kiln was packed for glaze-firing-1. I started the kiln at lunch time. This reminded me of a commuting train in Tokyo!

The were placed very carefully. 
It got to 600 C by 7:30 this evening. It will finish about 1 am in the morning (1260 C /2300 F). I will be able to open the kiln about noon tomorrow.

In the evening, I have decorated Mike's porcelain bowls. The black goes on first.

Mike's porcelain bowls

Then the red.

Then clear glaze. They will be ready to be fired tomorrow. 
We are now preparing for glaze-firing-2, the fourth firing of the week.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Saturday walk in Canterbury

Hello everyone. Thanks to the early night yesterday, Mike and I both felt much better this morning. I had a lie-in, one of my most favourite pastimes. Just before lunch time, we went to the High street to get sourdough bread in the market.

It was a grey day. But Canterbury festival banner was cheerful

A typical grey day in late October
Sidney Cooper gallery was still closed. They open at 11:30 on Saturdays. Both are listed buildings. Yes, the painter Sidney Cooper used to live and paint here. 

Sidney Cooper gallery before opening time
 The library was open. The building is full of character!


I checked my poster is in the library. I had asked a receptionist to put it up about one week ago.

I liked this decoration! So cheerful!

In front of a cafe

Then I found a dog sitting on a chair in a different cafe!

'Who do you think you are?'

The Cathedral from a quiet back street.

Peek at the Cathedral
The baker who sells sourdough bread we went to get was not in the market. A bit of disappointment. But never mind. Pearl was pulling power. She got lots of attention from whippet lovers!

'I was very popular!'
After lunch, Mike went to hairdresser. He came to my room to show his new shorter hairstyle. I told him that he looks like an acorn! After that he went to parrots' room. Beaper wolf whistled, and Scooter beeped. Perhaps alarmed! I heard Mike talking for parrots 'Poor guy, he was plucked by another bird! Look at his head.' Do you know he talks to parrots (that's ordinary), and he replies to himself for parrots? That makes me laugh!  At least he didn't bother to ask sleeping dogs to give comments on his new hairstyle.

I have worked for about five hours to build Breeze and Cloud II's bodies. It was fun, but that's maximum length of time I could concentrate on. 

Tidy up is needed on my table!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Stubbornly cute and pepper witch

Hello everyone. I have worked solid in my little studio today despite the cold.  The kiln is on.
Being glaze-fired 1240 C (2300 F) 

After making cute animals, somehow my face insisted to become cute, too! If you know what my faces are like, this is unusual. I resisted a bit by trying to add some dark side, but this one became an innocent child. She is 'Breeze', The daughter of 'Wind'. 

Walking in autumn is a fun if weather is nice. Beautiful sky and leaves.   

Autumn colour

Pearl enjoyed a walk, and made a scene when she spotted a cat. But once inside, she sleeps like melting butter, and removes varnish from the floor by her nose water!  

Where she rests the nose has no varnish. Her acidic nose water dissolved it!
At dinner time, we were using spilled pepper from a little dish. We pinched it with fingers. Then Mike said 'I can see a witch on a broom!'  Yes. How timely with Halloween coming! 

Pepper witch!

Both Mike and I are suffering from cold symptoms, again! I almost put a kettle into the fridge today. Tight head makes me feel a bit zombish. No wine, no cider, no strong coffee. We are detoxing again, just after I rediscovered the joy of wine and cider!  Never mind. I will recover very soon. Take care, everyone!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Safe delivery and Pumpkin, the robin's little piggy

Just after posting the guinomi last week

Hello everyone. Let me share this lovely news with you today. The porcelain Guinomi I sent last week has arrived at a nice lady's house in Scandinavia on Tuesday. Thank you so much! This is the happiest moment for online shop owner. I usually mark the dates of posting and of expected delivery on my calendar. I always wonder if it has arrived safely. So when there are nice messages like this, I feel so happy!

Guinomi has been safely delivered.
Last couple afternoons I glazed my rabbits and whippets. Glazing is one of  the messiest things in ceramics. Today I had to sieve a glaze in the garage. Sieving glazes by hand is a long job which requires patience. Even though it was mild outside, I caught cold. Too late to think I should have worn a jacket. Perhaps, I had better improve our working conditions.

Although I had planned to do finishing 'Wind' for glaze-firing tonight, I will give it a miss, and will go to bed early. Cold is the last thing I want right now.

Misty morning

One funny thing we have noticed recently is that a robin follows Pumpkin, our chicken, around the garden. As soon as we let Pumpkin out of the greenhouse in the morning, the robin appears from nowhere and stalks her. Mike says the robin was thinking 'My little piggy came out. Do dig the soil more to give me yummy worms.'  I think he is right. She often harasses poor sparrows who have bread in their beaks, but ignores the robin who perches on a lower branch or the rim of a flower pot just above where Pumpkin digs. It's hilarious!

Robin's little piggy

Last night Mike finally fixed the problem with comments, which I mentioned in the previous entry. He found 'a magic code', very technical term in IT world, to put right the corrupted blogger template. Now we are back to normal.

If you have a similar problem, you can find the magic code here.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Artists Open Houses and Bisque firing

Hello everyone. Last Saturday, Mike was playing with my brand new website, and somehow broke my blog. His fat finger wiped out all customisation I had added on it. I hastily put them back again. But we noticed that when you see the blog, all comments are hidden. Individual post shows all comments. He can't fix this yet. Mike is IT veteran of 30 years although his specialisation is in a different part of IT. He thinks the new Java isn't updating the blogger properly. So we will go like this until Java gets debugged.

Last Friday we went to an Artists Open Houses PV in a beautiful house in Bridge, near Canterbury, with Hania and other local artists'. I met her during my MA show. she talked to me with twinkle in her eyes 'I love your artist statement!'. We hit it off since then. She is a stone sculptor. She showed abstract sculptures made of Caen stone, limestone among other materials. They are all beautiful and inviting to be touched.

There I met Heather, a painter. She recognised me from the Clouds show PV. Her bold landscapes look great in a beautiful setting. You can glimpse her painting on the left in the image.

We also found lovely Tina, oil painter ( she also works in Sidney Cooper gallery) and her friend Marianne, a stone sculptor, there. We had great fun!

If you live in Kent or surrounding area, why don't you visit Artists Open Houses. You can make a trail in each city/town. 19/20, 26/27 October and 2/3 November.

Tina and Hania with Hania's stone sculptures 

Hania, Heather and other five artists' works can be seen at Samain Studio, Bridge Hill, Bridge, Canterbury, Kent CT4 5AS

You can download the pamphlet from here.

I have been working solid. Saturday 10 hours, and Sunday 8 hours. I have finished making 6 sculptures for a gallery. They were bisque fired. As Saturday was a full moon, it was the perfect night for making rabbits. I have made gigantic ones!

I sent this photo via twitter, Then a lady I don't know replied that she was admiring the same moon from a NY to London flight on that night! How nice! 

I have also made a gigantic whippet.  The small white one is the one is 9 cm high, and is available on my Etsy shop. It was difficult to make much larger ones. 

Yesterday, I posted the last standing rabbit . As usual, I took Topaz to the post office. On the way I found this. How beautiful! I looked around to see where this came from. Among some old cherry trees, a young maple was standing. A jewel like this on the ground, walking in autumn is fun! 

But Topaz is not interested in such beauty, She is busy reading her doggy twitter messages on the ground.

Updates! All were bisque fired safely!


Wind, whippets and other rabbits

Friday, 18 October 2013

New website and a great day!

Hello everyone. Ta-da. My website is up and running. You might have noticed a new click menu below the blog banner. Address is www.MidoriTakaki.co.uk  Please check it out!

Yesterday I had a great day. Two works at the show were sold. How nice! 'Out of sorts II' is going to a good home of a wonderful lady. I happened to be in the gallery, so I had a great chat with her. 'Who's there', the wall mask, is going to a talented print maker. I think both are wonderful matches. I feel the relationship between artworks and their owners are like marriage. They have to like each other. They will live together for a very long time, too.

At the gallery, ever so helpful Hazel, the curator, was so kind to give me lots of advice. I am so lucky! Even though I have sold my works literally all over the world from my online shop, I am new to traditional art business, so there are lots of things I don't know. I am learning quickly.  

Out of sorts II (Sold)

Who's there (Sold)

I finished a sculpture for part 2 of my Clouds exhibition. I also finished a large whippet, which is going to a gallery in London.


She is a large one. 10 cm high, and 17 cm long

This is the clouds of this morning. How inspiring! They look alive. Or I dream I could hop on them and go to another place in another country.

From the garden


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

New masks - part 2

Hello everyone. I am building my website lately when I find spare moments. It was overdue. I wanted it to be ready before the MA show in early September. Main framework is done. I am still thinking how to show my work on it. Flickr is one option. Its advantage is that it allows me to upload almost unlimited images. I will let you know once it is done.

Today I will continue to show you more of my new masks in Clouds. 

Rabbit mask
This is another experiment. I keep making something new. It is a risky strategy, but to feel fresh, I need discoveries and excitement. When I stop any experiments, it would be probably the time I stop ceramics.

Different angle

I am very pleased with this mask. I love textures, patterns and colours. Jane, the studio tech calls my finishing 'painting'. It has evolved this way, and I enjoy doing it.


Origin of transformation

This is my idea of Gandhara. The beautiful young male sculptures in Gandhara had changed its appearance as the image had traveled to east about 1700 years ago. When it has reached Japan in the 6th century, it had already East Asian appearance, older and fatter, very different from the original image.

To Japanese, the Silk road is the path to the origin of lots of things, including Buddhism. I have always wished I could travel on the Silk road. This mask carries my dream.    


I am looking for my father
This mask has a model. The old lady comes to our door several times in last four months. She announced 'I'm looking for my father' when Mike answered the door for the first time. The second time she was looking for her friend. She insisted that she left her friend in our lounge. I told her that nobody came on that day. She asked if she could see inside the room. 'Of course. Please have a look.' Only Topaz barked at her. She leaned her neck, 'How strange! I surely left her on your sofa!'. I told her to go home and have a nice cup of tea because she was tired and a bit confused. She nodded. I asked her if she could go home by herself. She said 'Yes'.

I have been interested in dementia as my own parents are old and getting forgetful, and also a gentleman I have known for a couple of decades was diagnosed with Alzheimer. Ordinary things they used to do became impossible things to do. As a Japanese woman, I am likely to live for a long time. Dementia is not other people's problem. It is likely to be my problem.

This mask is the old lady, my mother, Mike's mother, myself, and all people who are suffering and will suffer from dementia.


I have created my first work for part 2 Calm. I have been working on an image for a couple of months. Now finally I could make it appear.

New work

She is going to be on a large mount that I had reduction fired several months ago. She will also have a wing. She is a cloud.