PREVIEW – Firing 99 – December 2018
Firing 99 was one of the very best we’ve ever had, which came as something of a surprise. After all, we hadn’t fired the dear old salt kiln for an entire year, and it’s all too easy to forget how to finesse the making, packing, and firing – especially as I get older! Furthermore, the actual firing was tough as the temperature got stuck half way through, but, after a heroic struggle, we eventually rode the wave of heat all the way to the back of the kiln, and finished with a flourish.
Doubt, that dreaded curse, always creeps in during the purgatory of the cool down, when a third of a year’s work is entombed for a very long week, and you begin to fear the worst while simultaneously hoping for the best. The wait messes with your head.
Mercifully, as soon as we started peeking into the kiln, it became clear there were plenty of beauties, and now we’ve unloaded, cleaned, and washed them, they’re preening themselves down in the barn waiting for you to admire them and take them home!
How did the kiln manage to produce so many lovely salt-glazed pots with their rich colors and textures? Pots for daily use, easy on the eye and in the hand, pots for the mantel or the bookshelf to adorn a room, and big pots to place prominently indoors or out?
Perhaps it was the long gap between firing the old kiln that obliged us all to concentrate even harder than usual and will our way to beautiful pots. Or, perhaps it was the kiln herself: saddened by being neglected, she decided to show us what she could do.
Of course we all had to do the work and make the pots, so credit must go where credit is due. Now that Hamish and Stillman have been here almost four years, they’re making lovely, mature pots. It’s a delight to be part of this happy, tight-knit team, and witness their combined progress and enthusiasm. Thank you guys!
Sadly, however, this is Hamish’s penultimate firing, and it’ll be very sad when he leaves after the 100th firing in the spring – we’ll particularly miss the endless cups of tea!
These last few weeks we’ve also been graced by the arrival of a young, third generation, Japanese potter, Yoshiya Ohta, from Koishiwara in Kyushu, whose father, Tomitaka, was here for a few weeks 25 years ago. Yoshiya won’t be with us long, but he arrived just in time to make a few sweet pots, and, as you might expect, an extra pair of willing and skilled hands is most welcome.
We all look forward to seeing you this weekend and next!
This is my penultimate firing at the Hewitt Pottery. So I have only one more cycle of making left to hone my skills before heading off on my own.
It has been a satisfying cycle of making in many ways. Shapes which were entirely unattainable in the beginning of my apprenticeship have become familiar, and at least somewhat attainable! Mark’s pitchers, for example, have always held a special allure to me. When I first met Mark in Italy at a ceramics school called La Meridiana, I knew he took apprentices and I was definitely intrigued, but it wasn’t until I saw him throwing pitchers that I knew I wanted to work here. His pitchers are devilishly difficult to throw. They are even harder to throw thin and balanced enough to feel empty when they are actually empty! I am getting there but every one is still a challenge.
It has been an absolute pleasure to have Yoshiya Ohta here, visiting from Japan. He has been invaluable in helping us load, fire and unload the salt kiln over the last month. His energy and enthusiasm have lightened the sometimes onerous physical demands of the process.
Big hands are capable of tiny things.
Recently, I’ve been getting excited about the little things, a little belly, a slight curve, and pots so small I can fit a pile of them in my hand.
When it was finally time to make the 1/4lb pots for this firing, I decided I wanted to go a step further than I had before, adding some new shapes, some more intricate designs, maybe even put a tiny handle on some.
It was an extremely fun challenge. I’m excited to keep pushing myself smaller. Hopefully, next sale I’ll have some tiny bottles and pitchers to show for it.
I made lots of regular sized pots too, mugs, pitchers, and jars, and I’m really happy with the way they turned out.
Hello. My name is Yoshiya Ohta. My father is a potter and 25 years ago he worked with Mr. Mark. I will study at Mr. Mark’s work place for three months.