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Wednesday 27 February 2013


Hello everyone. Today I had a frustrating office day. Not everyday is a happy one. I finished work before three, walked dogs, and went to the studio. Luckily I could shift from one mode to another easily. I had a couple of bisque figures to finish, and also a head to re-fire. I will go back to finish all tomorrow afternoon.

Today I will show you the nude figures. If you remember I went to a life drawing class last autumn. I made small figures then. I kept four of them, and reduction-fired them last week. I am so happy with the result.

We will have another a life drawing this Saturday. I hope I have a good time again!

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Too much is as bad as too little

Hello everyone. We are still in a dark, cold, damp spell. I have stayed at home except for short dog walks. My work got busy and I need to focus on it.

Today, I will show you porcelain fired in reduction. They are my test pieces. Although I had known that porcelain become blueish white in reduction firing, I didn't expect they become this blue!  Those we used to use in Japan were not this blue in my memory.

I decorated these porcelain pots just before I finished packing the gas kiln. I ran out of ideas of decoration; I don't like repeating same design. As I was moving the brush, I thought, 'Umm, is it too much?' but I kept going. Alas, it became OTT!

It started ok.
Somehow I felt more was more at that time. 
Ah-oh. Too late. I did too much!

Back is still nice, though! lol

This is yunomi (tea cup). Despite the mistake with the bowl above, I somehow carried on. There is too much cobalt decoration all over, even inside! I soon remembered Japanese saying, 'Too much is as bad as too little'. Aghh, too late!
Yunomi with too much decoration!

Last one is something I cherish. I love the pine ash glaze. I make it myself; I burned the pine branches found on the campus nearby, washed the ash about 50 times, and made the glaze. But the problem is that I don't have enough pine branches to make lots of ash, so the ash glaze is only a small quantity. I poured inside, but I had to brush outside. I love the colours. It has the atmosphere of early spring. 

Inside is natural celadon. Ash has higher iron content than other trees easily available In Japan. So when they make celadon glaze from scratch, Japanese use pine trees.  

Pine ash glaze, natural celadon colour

Sunday 24 February 2013

My favourite reduction fired bowls

Hello everyone. We had a cold weekend and stayed home happily. I took the photos of recent works yesterday. Porcelain cups look flat on the photos; that made me feel flat, too. I have asked Mike for help; he used to be a hobby photographer with a dark room, when I met him. Despite gloomy daylight, he could manage to take much better photos than I did.  So I listed a couple of the my porcelain items on my Etsy shop. I will list the rest gradually over the week. So if you are interested in, please check them out.

Friday afternoon, I unloaded the gas kiln which I did reduction firing the day before. They are successful. I fired lots of Japanese style bowls with beautiful Shino and pine ash glazes, which I made by myself. While I was unloading them, I suddenly became homesick; I was thinking something like, this pot would be great as a rice bowl, or the pot would look lovely with the stew my mother used to cook and so on. From there, the memory flooded me. It was my rare moment to be sentimental. Japanese ceramics are one of a few Japanese things I miss a lot. There are nothing like them in England.

Here are some of our work fresh from a kiln! This bowl is our most favourite. I used our new Shino glaze, which came out much redder than ordinary Shino. I would like to have the stew in this!

My favourite - Thrown by Mike. Decorated by Midori with celadon, Shino and pine ash glaze. Dia. 15 cm
Foot ring

The next is a rice bowl. Outside has banding. White rice would look delicious in this bowl, I imagine!

Thrown by Mike and decorate by Midori.
A lovely rice bowl

This is another bowl with Shino, but different one.
Thrown by Mike, decorated by Midori.  Good for salad! Dia. 15 cm

This little piece is my test. I used celadon. It appears like mint ice cream with chocolate pieces!
Test piece thrown by Midori 

Mint ice cream with chocolate chips !

This would also make a nice salad bowl. I need a better picture!

Thrown by Mike and decorated by Midori

Inside. A reduction fired bowl


Thursday 21 February 2013

A message from a lovely customer and reduction firing

Hello everyone. How was your day? I went in the studio 8:50 for reduction firing and came home at five. The day flew by! But, first I want to share my joy of reading a message from a lady who bought a little rabbit I made. She wrote; 
"Really reminds me of this little mouse I made as a child but dropped it and broke it, I suppose the rabbit can be his replacement! ( and I can assure you I won't be dropping it again )
Really lovely, I love it, Thanks a lot!"
This made my heart warm. I know the rabbit will be loved. I feel so happy for him and the lady. I feel as if I were the mother who sends her child to the big world for the first time.

The little rabbit
One of the reasons why Etsy and other similar shops are popular is because artists and makers can connect with customers via what we create by hand with love. It is true that we put our love and joy into what we create. I do. So I get worried if my work has traveled safely, or whether they will be loved in their new homes. I also give them nicknames even though it would make me more difficult to part with them. That's why you feel warmth when you touch handmade work, be it art or craft. That's why they are still popular in this digital age.


I have taken a photo of the packed kiln with my nexus, so the quality of image is poor, but here it is.

A nicely packed gas kiln. 
During reduction firing, I have to record temperature and other details every 15 minutes, so there isn't much time to do anything much, but in the afternoon, I did some glazing of this chap, 'Waiting for the next bang II'.

Waiting for the next bang II'
    It was a productive day. I hope yours was too!

Wednesday 20 February 2013

New porcelain cup from the kiln

Hello everyone. This morning, when Mike brought a breakfast tray to the bed, he told me that our glaze firing was successful and that he had brought all work into the house. After breakfast, I went down to see them. Yes, they are pretty. A couple of them need re-firing due to pin holes (there are tiny places not covered by glaze). But the results are quite good.

I have one to show you here today. This is a porcelain cup with sgraffito.

My new porcelain cup
The left flower should have had a blue centre, but it became too dark. Despite it, I still like this cup. The little character on the left (image below) is my signature that I use for ceramics. You often see it at the back of my work.

The other side.
I will be doing reduction firing tomorrow. I will be in the studio at nine, and will log the firing details every 15 minutes until about four in the afternoon. Mike took a day off to cover me so that our dogs will be walked. It will be a long (and cold! 3C max.) day.  I'm ready for it!

Tuesday 19 February 2013

My journey to the studio

Hello everyone. I have been a busy bunny this week. Yesterday I went to the studio in the morning and afternoon. Between them I walked dogs twice, prepared a lunch (only heated a prepared pizza!), had a lunch and quickly checked my day work. After work, Mike picked me up. When we came home it was already near seven. (Dogs were jumping with joy to see us; they were very hungry!) After dinner, we loaded our kiln for glaze firing. We finished it about nine.

Today, after checking that firing finished in the garage just after lunch, I went to studio to finish all preparation for reduction firing scheduled for Thursday. Tomorrow will be my contingency day, and I will give my feet a really good rest. I will give our dogs a lovely longish walk, too.

Here I will show you how I go to the studio. I sometimes walk, but I often take a bus. A bus stop is a couple of minutes' walk from our house. I walk past the houses of the psychotherapist, Italian artisan baker, friend Cynthia and the lady who used to have a cockatoo, but now only has a Italian Spinoza (Italian spaniel), to get the bust stop. This is a view from the bus stop.

Lots of trees. A view from the bus stop
Inside bus is colourful. Maybe too colourful. There was somehow a bright pink light. Buses in England are often double decker. When I just came from Japan, I used to make sure that I sat on the upper floor and enjoyed the view. But nowadays, I take the nearest seat available to the door. : )

Bus inside
I get off the bus station. After sweetly saying 'Thank you,' to the driver, I walk to the outside of the ancient city wall. There the library build stands.
The library
I usually walk through the library to get the studio, which is behind the building.

Yesterday this poster caught my eye. I love this chaise longue. Pearl would love to sleep on it!

A poster at the reception
In the studio, I used my pine ash glaze and shino glaze found in the studio to glaze stoneware bisques. I used pine ash glaze and barium blue glaze for my sculpture. I hope everything comes out right. I will only know the result on Friday. 

Shino and Pine ash glaze

Sunday 17 February 2013

Decoration on porcelain cups

Hello everyone. It was a quiet Sunday. I am still having aches from yesterday's printing workshop. Only strenuous thing I have done was walking dogs!  You might laugh, but our Pearl walks like this when she thinks there is a cat around! I am pulled along, quite often!

'I am a girl trapped in a dog's body'
Mike was busy vacuuming the house. I have taken photographs of my wall masks for my shop at Etsy, as well as presentation I will give next month. Then I did finishing on my porcelain cups and Mike's bowl.

Left and middle are my cups.  The bowl is Mike's 
I am not sure how yellow and blue underglaze will come out on the cup in the middle, so I chose tested black and red on other two. The bowl has also decoration inside. We will glaze them tomorrow and will fire them sometime this week.

Inside decoration

Mike threw two large dishes on a potter's wheel yesterday. He was turning and trimming them this evening. Mike likes making bowls; he is good at it. Jane, the ceramic studio technician, is a fan of his bowls. She already has three of his bowls. She told him that she would like to buy one of his large bowls or chargers. That's nice!

They are ready for turning. 

Saturday 16 February 2013

Print workshop

Hello everyone. I went to a print workshop today. We did etching. It was a first for me. So there were lots of surprises. I didn't know so much time is spent on polishing, cleaning, rubbing and waiting. We have done a small zinc plate 10cm. So actual etching time was short about 1 hour or less, in comparison to six hours in total. I had been vaguely interested in printing before, but now I know what it is like, I will probably not do it again. The fumes from Brasso and white spirit gave me a headache. I also found the ink too messy! From now on, I will just admire other people's work more on the knowledge of how much work went in to create their prints in a chemically harsh condition!

My idea and the zinc plate

Mike came to see me with an almond croissant and a cup of coffee at lunch time. We sat on the library sofa and had a quick chat. We always have lunch together unless he is on a business trip. He got me another box of Champagne truffles. He said that it is the other half of Valentine chocolate. It suits me well, as I have eaten three quarters of the first box.

The other half of Valentine chocolate. 
Crocus in the garden are so bright and cheerful. They are telling us that spring is approaching. I hope we have seen the last of snow this winter.

Lovely Crocuses 

Honey suckle with strong scent at the front door

Thursday 14 February 2013

Happy Valentine Day

Happy Valentine day, everyone. Lately Mike brings my breakfast on a tray to the bed. This morning, there was a box of champagne truffles on the tray as well.

Midori's champagne truffles
 He also got me some Cantuccini. I love them. So at my coffee break, I had a cup of macchiato, two champagne truffles, and one Cantuccini. I could have them every day. Heaven!

You wonder what this is. Well, I wanted to throw a large vase for reduction firing today. I centred and opened a ball of clay. Something hard was in it. I felt it on my finger. Ummm?

A piece of stone

On the rim of the opened the clay ball, I found this piece. It is a size of a penny. It is a stone. I gazed at the large hole after I pulled it out of the rim. I decided that I would use the clay for practice, regardless. After throwing a tall vase with uneven rim predictably, I cut the top off.  

This is the remains, about one third of the size I wanted to throw initially. The studio clay has been recycled, so lots of things have been found in it. A piece of chamois, pieces of blue paper towel, sponges, and even a pin. 

The remains after the stone was removed

 I caught a cold. : (  I will go to bed early. Good night, everyone.


Wednesday 13 February 2013

Progress on Harpie, a little white line and Pumpkin

Hello everyone. I have been off-colour recently, so I am slowly doing ceramics at home.

Last Saturday I finished this face. It is going to be the second face for Harpie. The main part is going be reduction fired next week.
Harpie face
Last night I made a plinth, an unusual one, for the Harpie. Although I call it a plinth, it is not going to be weight bearing. It will hide a steel rod which will support the sculpture. 

A plinth
Some people remember that I recently bought a new camera for my ceramics. The day after the camera arrived, I took about 30 photos with the wrong setting. Clever readers like you would soon notice that the white bar on the left is the place for setting, but I didn't! I somehow set 'tulip' to the position of 'ON', opposite to the real place. So I unintentionally set for 'Av'. According to Mike, it happened to be fine for what I was doing. I used to ridicule my parents for their tech unawareness when I was young. (My father doesn't know how to use fax machines. My mother is not completely sure how to 'copy and paste'!) Now I should start worrying myself!

I couldn't see the little white line! 

Pumpkin has begun eating mortar on the house again. This only means one thing - that she will start laying before too long. Her tail returned and her feathers are getting prettier everyday. Her comb and wattles will become much darker and the last pin feathers on the neck will unfurl within days. Then, she will return to her throne to peck us around!  We can't wait!

Pumpkin shot by Mike


Saturday 9 February 2013

Lovely pots from our first firing of the year

Hello everyone. Yesterday morning I woke up very early. It was before dawn, about six o'clock because I was excited to see the result of our firing. I had put several experimental pieces in it. Mike and I trotted to the garage in the cold morning air. Yeah! So happy! Here are two of my favourite ones.

Large guinomi, porcelain
  The first one is my favourite side. I love the black and red spots as well as 'dry' looking brush marks.

I love the big swish.
 I used black and red in reference to Japanese ink drawing.

Porcelain sake cup
 The next one is guinomi. It will be in your palm; typical guinomi size.

My favourite side
This dark brown is black iron oxide. It need thick application to get a strong colour, but that way brush marks would be lost. I only did once, and it looks thin after firing.

Dark brown was Black Iron oxide,. 
 It is liberating to decorate pots like this. In Japan where I am from, cobalt oxide is widely used for decorating porcelain by professional specialists. I always admired their skills. I do a free-style with my Japanese calligraphy brushes and Chinese painting brushes. They are wonderful on ceramics, too. You need to practice different strokes before you could use the brushes well in the way we do, but it will be all worth it. (Japanese children have once a week calligraphy class in primary schools. I had never dreamt of the repetitive practice on strokes would ever become useful one day in UK!)