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kanayama, japan artist-in-residence woodfire program update

updated mon 14 jun 04


John Baymore on mon 7 jun 04

Hi all.

So we are all now into the "routine" here in Kanayama. Basically in a
nutshell........ we are busy as heck. But we're having a great time.

BTW... any discussion of "production ware" and it's possible "shortcomings"
needs to take a look at the production ware being produced at Tsugaru
Kanayama Yaki before commenting. Some of the best proiduction pots I have
ever seen....and they aren't blue .

At 4 AM this morning we just finished a three day firing of a pretty unique
anagama type kiln, fired off to 1250 C at the back end. I was on my second
stoking shift of the firing, with the "finishing shift" starting at 11:30

After a few hours of sleep we all headed off to the neighboring town of
Hirosaki today to visit the samurai period historical district there and
then on the an onsen for a well needed good long HOT soak.

Let's see..... ah yes...... Tony is now lusting after some good octopus and
has forsworn hamburgers and pizza and bread forever .

If you are interested in some pictures of what is happening here in
Japan.... one of the Japanese artists participating, Chuubachi-san, has
somehow found the time to update a website with some pictures. Try the website.

Sorry we're not posting as often as we'd like..... but we really are "flat
out". Tomorrow morning at 9 AM we load the "small" noborigama (one chamber
is as big as my whole noborigama)for it's week long firing..... then about
a week after that we will be loading the big noborigama and then soon after
that we'll load the new kiln here built by Fred Olsen.

Gotta go get some sleep.



John Baymore
Kanayama Ceramic Cooperative
Kanayama, Goshogawara-shi
Aomori-ken, Japan

John Baymore on tue 8 jun 04

Just wanted to let you know that the website that I listed in my last post
above is getting updated all the time. Check back periodically for new

We loaded the small noborigama this morning. It is on an oil pilot now.
Tomorrow it switches to wood. It will be a week long firing. Wood is
stacked everywhere alongside the kiln.

Over beer, great senbei, and squid and octopus munchies..... this evening
we got into a discussion on aesthetics. In this environment that naturally
eventually lead to tea bowls and the tea ceremony. That eventually lead to
us handling some of Matsumiya-san's beautiful teabowls. We had the
pleasure of handling two different Korean teabowls worth $15,000.00. What
a treat. You could have spent a year staring at them and fondling them and
still discovering new things.

Anyway... off to bed. We're burning the candle at THREE ends. Lots of
pots to make in the next week. We unload the anagama fing in a couple of
days. Can't wait. More later.



John Baymore
Tsugaru Kanayama
Goshogawara-shi, Aomori-ken

John Baymore on fri 11 jun 04

Next Kanayama Update......

We unloaded the "anagama" firing we did a few days ago this morning. All I
can say is "WOW"! Some killer pots. The kiln design by Matsumiya-san is
totally unique....... I will be doing an article on it. It was a three day
firing........ looks like a week or two. We had some unglazed porcelian
pieces that were carbon trapped and had crystal growth that looked like
American shino. Side stacked pieces on shells that had lots of beautiful
drips and runs and "potter's tears". Many pieces with the lovely blue
tinge that long ash-laden firings sometimes get.

The Kanayama workers are now using diamond cutting blades and grinders and
are cleaning up our pieces from the shell and wad marks. I can hear the
incessant whine of a grinder coming in the window as I type. These people
are the masters of grinding..... since they fire all of their work in a
manner that requires significant cleanup of this type. The best of these
pieces will then go on sale to the public in the exhibition gallery here

While we all had some good pieces out of the kiln...... the "star" of this
particular kiln load was Sam Hoffman from Oregon (PMI article a few months
ago). He had a whole run of absoultely awesome bottle forms come out of
this firing.

We are currently firing the "small" noborigama. We have all our work in
one chamber of the four plus dogi. I finished my second stoking shift at 2
PM today. Was stoking with Carol Ann Michaelson from Canada. Tony
Clennell and Sam Hoffman are stoking right as I write this. It's pretty
hot today . When I left the kiln, we were soaking it at 1190 C (+/- 5C
up or down). It will be taken to Seger cone 11 down.....1200 +/- on the
pyrometer. Then this evening sometime we will be burying all the ware in
charcoal (youhen). Then the Kanayama staff will continue firing the rest
of the kiln off while we continue with making pieces for two more firings
that will happen soon.

Tonight we will get together after ban-gohan (dinner) and critique the
results of the firing we just unloaded. We learned a lot about the local
materials and kiln results from this firing....and will all likely modify
aspects of how we are working for the next firings.

Tonight we will also review the results of some slides we shot yesterday of
Matsumiya-san's pots. (Which are great.) Tony, Carol Ann, and I built a
small photo "studio" for Matsumiya-san in an unused space a couple of days
ago. We spent some time training some of his staff how to photograph pots
for documentation. That practice is not common in Japan.

We just learned today that one of the numerous TV crews that have been all
over the place for the past week and a half are doing a one hour
documentary on this artist-in-residence program. It will be released in
September, but will be in Japanese only. Once it is released, I will see
if I can get a friend to do a translation to go with it.

So..... gotta' go work on some pieces that are drying down in the
workshop. I'm beat..... only 4 hours of sleep in the last 24 hours cause
of stoking and other work to be done. I kid with participants in my 9 1/2
day August woodfire workshop at my studio that it is "Pottery Boot
Camp"....... this must be "payback" for me for doing that to all those
groups over the years.

More later.



PS: Chuubachi-san likely will have more photos up on the website link I
provided in another post. Check that site for continual "visual" updates.

John Baymore

Tsugaru Kanayama
Goshogawara-shi, Aomori-ken

John Baymore on sat 12 jun 04

Hi all once again from Kanayama.

I will let you know if and when it is active....... but today technicians
were busy attempting to set up a live webcam in the main workshop where we
all are working. They are experimenting with it. I will post an address
if they get it working.

The small noborigama is now just starting onto chamber three. It is at
1170 C and climbing.

This morning were given a tea ceremony in a stunning tea house with a
stellar garden. The "pre-chado" tea served was a cherry blossom tea....and
cherry blossoms taste wonderful! After the indoor ceremony, we had another
outdoor serving. What a beautiful experience. The person who hosted it
runs four tea schools in Japan. I think she brought out the total best of
her chawan and other utensils for a group of potters. Each of us had our
own chawan to drink out of ....and that the end we got a chance to examing
all the chawan. Most of the chawan were at least 200 years old. Many were
Korean rice bowls. Ther was a Hagi one to die for. The chaire used was an
old Tamba one.

Gotta go change into studio clothes and go make pots.



John Baymore

Tsugaru Kanayama
Goshogawara-shi, Aomori-ken

Steve Mills on sun 13 jun 04

how very embarrassing, I have just found a picture of John B elsewhere,
and of course he is also very much in evidence as well in the site
Steve Mills