The 15th anagama kiln fire opening….was a success story, which we weren’t quite sure about during the firing itself.
It could be called ” the mystery of the shelf that disappeared!”
It wasn’t a hallucination, it wasn’t there; when Mal and Peter broke open the wicket (door) of the kiln at 10.30 that Sunday morning.
Some of the door bricks were heavily carbonised but no shelf.
Poking around the ashes, at the bottom of the kiln, no real sign.
The conclusion has to be that it vaporised?
Shit, the kiln must have been hot!
Well, we of the Firing Teams knew that.
The kiln drew right through, beautifully, during the last few sessions.
The flame out of the chimney was often high and concern was raised about the tree.
The tree still lives, but somewhat scorched and bare one side.
I often wonder what that tree tells other trees about the dragon kiln rearing its fury…
there must be a kink in the growth rings during these past 15 years!
It would make a lovely children’s story!!
It’s just as well that Graeme and June Houston (the farm owners on which the kiln stands) are entirely three dimensional in their continued hosting of this pottery extravaganza and take most things in their stride.
We are extremely grateful to them; it’s a big deal hosting that number of, mostly townies, on a working farm.
Graeme got into the clay this year himself, producing a pair of boots, as an emergency pair, we could cement them close to the door, and ask the firers to fill them.
Good idea, when, in my experience, it’s my ankles that take the brunt of the heat.
The system of the line from inside the kiln when being emptied, sneaking through the pit, up the steps to the shed, for identification and photography, worked well, thanks to you line people.
It took more than four hours to unload, and Peter and Mal were exhausted at the end of it.
Thanks heaps to them for being Trojans!
And THE POTS…..
Some disappointments, but not as many as we feared.
Five people connected themselves through their pots into eternity; visually an interesting collapse.
The ” wadding” had become a problem, when the abundance of ash overflowed as glaze onto the wadding, which made it difficult to get off at times.
Big debate for next year; the Chester Nealie wadding versus the John Wineera recipe.
The loss of shelving has become a problem and we need to deal with it. This signals a likely increase in the firing charge for 2020.
From my professional potter’s viewpoint we need to make sure that the pots made by members relate in shape and form to the firing techniques of the dragon kiln…
not just in the type of clay used but also in a certain adaptation of form to the kiln.
The rim of a pot holds the shape of the pot together so very thin edges just deform; too thin at the bottom, same thing. Leave the bottoms of your shape free of glaze at least 5 centimetres. That way the drips stay on the pot instead of flowing onto the wadding, or worse, the shelves.
Try to leave a contrast with patterning and give the wood ash something to do.
So stacking is hugely important, and each pot put in, at the coal face (so to speak) needs to be evaluated in terms of where the wadding goes.
Stacking is a democratic exercise, trying to give each shape its own potential, and thereby, a better outcome.
So in the light of all that, the kiln disgorged some beautiful pots!
Mal and Peter and their small team are to be congratulated for their commitment, huge time giving and knowledge, but the learning never stops.
And in the atmosphere of ” random”, the pots attain their own timelessness.
For those who need figures…
About 380 pots were received from 75 potters.
And Mal had to race home to get a few more in-fillers.
The organisation around the firing gets better each year and, for me, the shifts are the highlight of participation.
We farewelled Alan Ross, the stalwart of the shifts organisation, and we thank him for the huge efforts he has made, right from the beginning, in the 17 years of the kiln being
dug out, made, repaired several times, and continued vigilance ahead.
Please stay as an observer, and keep singing (?) with Mal, and Peter!
I’ve included some photo snapshots I took on the opening day of the kiln…
which look like an archeological dig.
Consider yourself to have taken part in the clay history of New Zealand.
Start by learning to make plaster sprig moulds, followed by creating textured slabs and joining them to develop different shapes and types of work. Participants should have some experience working with clay.
Numbers strictly limited to 15 – register now and make payment (by bank transfer or EFTPOS at the rooms) to secure your spot!
Visiting artist Erik Omundson – 20 November
Join visiting American artist Erik Omundson (Hawaii) as he demonstrates his unique techniques for throwing large shapes on the wheel.
Please note this is a demonstration workshop only with no hands-on component. Erik is offering hands-on workshops at Otaki Potters but this workshop is fully booked.
This workshop will only be able to go ahead if we get a minimum of 12 registrations. Please support Erik and the club by registering and making it possible for us to offer demonstrations by visiting artists to our members.
Register now and make payment (by bank transfer or EFTPOS at the rooms) to secure your spot!
Kia ora, I have updated the Workshops page with details for some upcoming workshops in December and January. We have an exciting programme lined up including:
Creative expression talk & bbq with Laurie Steer on 23 Nov
Ceramic Jewellery with Anthea Grob on 1 Dec
Experimental shapes on the wheel with visiting potter James Lemon on 8 Dec
Turning your pots into a successful business talk with Rhonda Tracey on 25 January
Mold-making with Richard Stratton on 26 & 27 January
Pit-firing with Chris Dunn in February
Not all details are confirmed at present – but once we finalise registration fees and materials needed, you will be able to register online. I will update the workshop pages as things open for registration! Also keep an eye on your monthly newsletters, and emails from Vera.
The rooms will be closed to non-workshop participants during these times – so don’t forget to check the WPA Calendar before coming to the rooms.
At the well-attended event yesterday, guest selector Sam Duckor-Jones relayed to the joys and challenges of curating the show and choosing a range of fabulous award winners, including:
the Wellington Museum Premier Acquisition Award for Excellence in Ceramics: Oliver Morse (for a second year in a row) awarded to his work titled “Cordial Boy”.
the Vessel Award for Excellence in Wheel-thrown Ceramics: Mal Sole’s magnificent “Wood-fired Vessel”
the Artzone Award for Excellence in Hand-built Ceramics: Wairarapa potter, Sophie Bidwill, for her outstanding sculpture “The Drip”
the Mamaku International “He Kōrero Waihanga Uku” Award (that this year focussed on the story of creation of Hine-Ahu-One): Keil Cas’ creation “Hue”
the Waikato Ceramics Award for Excellence as a First-time Exhibitor: Nicole Gaston for her work “Vagina Teapot”
the Nelson Pottery Supplies Award for Innovation in Ceramics: Dani Henke’s piece “Deer?” which impressed the judge with its twist on original and projected artwork.
Visitors to the exhibition can vote for the People’s Choice Award kindly sponsored by Penthouse Cinema. The lucky winner will be announced on the last day of the exhibition – on 1 December.
Look for the award-winning works amongst the fabulous display of exciting and varied ceramics and buy a raffle ticket or two to win some outstanding clay creations for your home or a pottery experience.
Join Laurie Steer for a free talk on ‘Freedom of expression in ceramic practice” at the rooms on Friday 23rd November at 6:30 pm. After the talk Laurie will be on hand to help people with projects, give tips, and enjoy a BBQ served up by our resident pyrotechnic Peter Rumble.
Please BYO drinks and something to throw on the BBQ, or a few gold coins!
A workshop on making “Chawan” – Saturday 20th & Sunday 21st October, 12:00 – 3:00 pm
For those who are interested in making a “chawan” yourself, you can register for two days of workshop. You can experience a Japanese way of making a chawan, hopefully respecting as much as Chojiro’s spriit of Raku. The first day you shape a cup using handbuilding methods, then the next day you learn carving. You will participate to create a chawan on these two days. The workshop fee covers clay and necessary materials, and is suitable for beginners or those new to clay. The bisque and final firing will be done later. It won’t be a traditional Raku firing, however you will have an option to participate to glaze and/or firing session.
Open to all levels. $20 for WSA/WPA members and $30 for non-WSA/WPA members. To register or for more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org. * Selected cups maybe used at the tea ceremony demonstration in the Japan Festival.
A Talk on “Chawan” & Tea Ceremony Sunday 21st October, 3.30 – 4.30pm
Inspired by Rikyu, a tea master from Sakai city, Japan (Wellington’s sister city), I would like to share my passion on “Chawan”(tea cup). The tradition of “Raku” chawan is transmitted secretly from father to son since 1568, currently headed its 15th master. I will talk about its history and his “wabi” spirit, with a demonstration of the tea ceremony.
The talk and demonstration of tea ceremony is free and does not require registrations; however space will be on a first come first serve basis to the capacity.