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Friday 30 January 2015

Miss Wren and little animals

The firing went well. All test pieces came out satisfactory. How nice! Because of the weather, I have not been able to take photos of all, but I managed to do some.

Miss wren.
Miss wren loves her hat. It is royal blue with a yellow wren on top. She saw it in Madame Oiseau's window, and she had to buy it at once. It is the best hat in town.

Now in my shop
 Goofy rabbits.


Popular 'Girls in print dresses' are back.

Strawberry, Flora and Carrot
 This time there are lambs and goats, two each.

Bubble, Mary (sold), Momo  and Flora. 

I will share more next time! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Preparation for glaze-firing

Today I have done the first glaze-firing of the year. Preparation for glaze-firing is a long job. First I file and grind all rough bits and then sand paper here and there. Then I wipe the dust off. This sounds quick and easy, but it usually takes a couple of hours or longer for my little kiln to be fully loaded.

We are tiny test pieces.

Then I paint oxides and underglaze. Mixing underglazes to make different colours is not easy, because the colours change so much after firing. Lots of testing will be needed. I also mix oxides and underglaze, then it's anybody's guess what colour it would be! Again more tests will be needed. I make a sample and send for firing to see the resulting colours. Next, I paint wax for the parts I don't want glaze on. It is usually tiny and delicate parts, and I am definitely cross-eyed during this work. That would be about six to eight hours. A good dog walk would be a great break, after this!

The smaller mask has wax around her face  - Lower shelf
Now it's time for glazing. I stir the glazes, and remove dust from surface of the bisques again. I stir the glaze again, to make sure that it is now homogeneous. Then glazing. I dip each one in the glaze bucket. After they are all finished, they usually need a touch-up. And then I clean up spills on the surface and wipe the bottom. About a four to six hour job.

Several test pieces on this top shelf

I finally move them to the kiln shelves and then to the kiln. Measuring the height and adjusting the positions takes about one hour!

To fire today's bisques, I have worked three days to do all these jobs. During firing in an electric kiln with a controller is an easy job. I can relax and do other works.

I truly hope that they come out nicely! : ) I will see tomorrow lunchtime.

Somehow this kitten became Yoshimoto Nara-like! :D I had to change her eyes after the photo was taken!


Saturday 24 January 2015

Frog Princess and the first bisque-firing of the year!

This morning, Mike and I took our dogs to Post office to send Frog Princess mask to a lovely lady in France. It was a bright nice wintry day. We enjoyed walking together! Although there are so many sellers on Etsy, I was only one who was listing a work called Frog Princess on it! I am so grateful to those who share my quirky taste in art!

Frog Princess - sold

I did the first firing of the year yesterday. As there was not enough height to add the third shelf, I had to crammed the top shelf. A Tokyo commuting train came to my mind! :D

Lower shelf

Top shelf. 
I'm pleased to say the firing went well. Here are some of bisque on my shelf in the studio. They are classified according to glazes.

Bisque on my shelf 

Thursday 22 January 2015

Tapir line-up vs whippet line-up.

Hello! Wintry weather has set in. It is not too cold in comparison with other parts of the world, but the grey days have continued. Yet, I feel spring is not very far off. Daytime is getting longer; I can now walk the dogs one hour later in the afternoon than I did in December.

Tomorrow, I'm planning to do a bisque-firing. All those little ones in the previous post as well as several masks would be fired. I am also making tapir test pieces. I have made them in different ways to see which is the best method,

Are you in Tapir waiting list 2015? Once I have finished a few of them, I will make announcement of details, so please be patient.

A line-up for Tapirs! 
   This one has all toes. Sculpting toes was difficult.

They have a cute and funny round body shape without much distinction. Ears look spirited, though! I remade the ears several times to get them right. These unmatching pairs were discarded.  

In the meantime, whippets are also ready for firing! I used grogged semi-porcelain for them to get the most beautiful crackles on them. Oh, it was difficult! It was more like carving than building. You can see the right bottom one being carved.  

'We are also doing a line-up!' 

Did you notice the mini one? It's for fun! :D 
Pumpkin is not amused with the cold weather. One day she decided to 'dust' bath in fallen leaves as the ground has been saturated. 

'I like to keep my hygiene standard high!'
Everyone is waiting for spring! 

Tuesday 20 January 2015

My studio shelf on a snowy day

We had a bit of snow today. I was hoping it would fall enough to take dogs to a field, but soon it became slushy. I cut a finger about five days ago. Since then I have restricted myself in contact with damp clay. This means I can't make new things. So I have planned and drawn plans for Ceramic Art London stand. I used to be an interior designer in Tokyo. So designing space is one of the things I'm good at. This time, I am going to design all stand fixtures and get them made by Mike although I will probably purchase a cabinet. Elevation plan is done. I am still thinking about small details. Like lots of things in design, small details matter!

Here is the blackbird who was feeding on chicken pellets in front of my studio window.


Blackbird - top
Hello rabbits! They did a line-up on my shelf.

We are bunnies! 
I have also made these cheerful ones!

Goat, lamb, piglet, rabbits and cat! 

Snow was pretty, but it didn't last.

Pearl, the whippet, needs pyjamas at night. Keep warm, everyone! 

I am supposed to be a fierce hunting dog! I can't be seen in this with my tail dong! 

Friday 16 January 2015

Works on commissions

I have worked on three commissions this year, so far. The first one is a pair of whippets for a lovely lady, who lives with a blue whippet.  One is sitting up and another is lying with its head on paws. They will be bronze-gold glazed. 

If you would like a whippet with bronze-gold glaze, please contact me by email (in my website), Twitter or Facebook. Until I make some adjustments to the new batch of the glaze in late spring, I will only use the remaining old glaze for commissioned works. 



Large - sitting up

In the making 

The second one was a black cat. The lovely lady has sent me lots of photos so that I was able to feel what  her cat is like.  

I took some time to make her expression. She became a sweet cat just like the model. 


The third one is a sitting up greyhound for a lovely lady with two greyhounds. She will be glazed with clear crackle glaze. I used semi-porcelain, and I had to carve it out rather than building because the clay was either too wet or too dry. The result looks lovely and I'm happy with it. 

So far so good! I hope they will be successfully bisque-fired.

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Three masks - three stories

My shelves in the studio are getting crowded. Since I finished the Christmas orders, I kept making little ones. But today I will share three masks I made last Sunday while I watched the march in Paris on TV.

None of them was premeditated before making. I listen to them, and they will appear. This has become a bear, or bear spirit. It must be from His Dark Materials that I read recently. I have thought about Iorek and Lyra a lot. And also about Polar Bears, stars and aurora. I hope she will tell me more about her soon.

Bear spirit
Next came Alice. I was going to make a girl, but it seems to me the Alice band and curly hair suggests that she is Alice herself! Alice is surprised at what's happening in Wonderland.


Although other two came naturally and quickly, this one was first an injured rabbit. He didn't like to be a rabbit. He was a bear.  I had been crying because I was moved by the march. I knew his name. He was Charlie. 


Saturday 10 January 2015

The freedom of speech

This week has witnessed a sad event in the human history. Violence tried to silence the freedom of speech. But it failed again. We take the freedom of speech for granted, but so many people have lost their lives to fight for it. And as we saw they still do. It is the core of democracy. We must keep it. 

My contribution is this mask, Art theory discussion, 2013.

Art theory discussion, 2013

Tuesday 6 January 2015

The first drumming of a woodpecker

Did you notice that sunset has become later? I now walk dogs 30 minutes later than a few weeks ago. We have also heard the first drumming woodpeckers! We are just waiting for spring to come!

Mike has mounted my Great Spotted woodpecker finally. He is in my shop now. The mount is mahogany. The branch is Amelanchier, which has been cured for several years.

He is 7cm long and porcelain. Mike made legs from copper wire. I might make a large branch with several birds later this year. That would be fun!  

 Dadadadada! :D

Friday 2 January 2015

Happy New Year and the last walk in 2014

Happy New Year! In Japan, New Year's Day is a big thing! It is the most important day in a year. Until the third, most places used to be closed expect for shrines where people visited to pray for their family's happiness for the year. There is special food prepared, so that nobody has to cook for three days.

As I'm away from my country, we don't do anything special here except for eating mochi, special rice cake, my mother sent me. We had champagne and Tempura in the evening. I finished the trilogy by Pullman. We watched Tin tin on TV. I rang my mother just before going to sleep due to the time difference. We had chatted for about an hour. Last two years, I haven't had time to tell her what exactly I was doing in detail because I was either too busy or too unwell. So it was a good catch up.

On the eve, we had a long walk. It was cold but bright.

Pearl the whippet had been bored and when we saw her face like this, we got up and said 'Let's go for a walk!'

I'm bored....

This is an unusual little post box!

We walked down to Westgate garden.

There was renovation going on, but still Westgate looked nice!

Mike is taking photos and dogs were keen to chase pigeons! 

Let us chase pigeons and ducks! 

I noticed there is an apartment for pigeons! 

A bit damp, I imagine! 
 There are old trees there.

Rumour has it that this tree swallowed a bench.

Outside the garden, there is a nice Georgian house.

On the way back we bought double cream to do cream tea with Mike's scones, which spoiled our dinner! It's a pleasure to be grown-ups.