Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

More from Bizen

This is another beautiful old pot from the Imbe Museum collection. While in Tokyo we were given a letter of introduction to Fujiwara Rakusai-san of Imbe. We found his place without too much trouble and spent a most wonderful afternoon with him. He could not understand English any more than Estelle or I could understand Japanese.
With the language of potters we seemed to communicate extremely well and he showed us many of his ceramic treasures as well as his kilns and workshop. He was a wonderful gentleman.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Two Bizen Pots

These two photographs were taken at Imbe in Japan in 1978. We have always loved Bizen ware and understood the process used to produce it. On later visits, when we were viewing the Bizen pots in the department store collections, we would be approached by the manager or one of his staff, and told of the methods used. They were often somewhat confused about the process and, having succeeded ourselves with producing Bizen wares, we had to smile at their confusion.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Different Salt Glazing

In 1978 Estelle and I visited Tokoname and in a small gallery saw these pots made by Masaaki Shibata-san. We thought they had been salt glazed but somehow seemed different from the usual salt glazing. On talking with the gallery owner we were told that the pots had been fired with rippings from logs that had been rafted for a long distance through the sea. The outside of the logs had absorbed salt from the water and, when used in their firings, had released the salt giving these unusual effects.

Monday, December 19, 2011

With Friends in Japan

My friend Kanji-san feeding a swan on one of the hydro dams we visited after which we went to a fish shop to get a fresh fish for tea. Harumi-san, Kanji's wife, had just caught a fresh fish from this tank, knocked it on the head, and taken it into the shop. Kanji looks as shocked as Estelle and I were at seeing this but the sashimi we had for tea was delicious.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Kenzan Dish and Thinking of Christmas

A comment posted by Cambria Pottery about an earlier posting of some Kenzan dishes reminded me of this picture of another unusual Kenzan serving dish. The other picture is of Estelle and me talking with Kumau Ohta in his home with the newly formed garden in the background. Somehow it reminds me of Christmas as it was mid summer in Japan when we were there and, in New Zealand, Christmas is our summer time.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lions and Dolphins

These pieces were being made at the Daibutsu Tile Factory in Kyoto for the refurbishment of the Heian Shrine in Kyoto. Even larger dolphins were made for temples like the Todaiji in Nara. Wonderful clay work.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Large Ceramic Sculptures

This small castle is at Hirosaki and, although not shown in this image, has wonderful ceramic sculptured "Lion's Head" and "Dolphin" ornamentation on the end tiles and roof finials. We visited the factory and saw these large pieces being very skilfully made.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Having spoken of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in my last blog, I wondered how the beauty spot of Matsushima had fared. Considered by the Japanese as being one of the three best beauty spots in Japan. It would have been in the path of the tsunami although the shape of the inlet may have protected many of its features. There has been no mention of damage that I have seen but, of course, there were so many other things damaged that were more important at the time.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Aizu Wakamatsu

We visited Koichi Takita-san when we were in Japan and found him to be such a friendly and generous person as well as a very good potter. He had worked as an instructor in Colombo and his English was excellent. A mutual friend and I have tried to contact him following the earthquake and tsunami without success. He seems to have moved away from Aizu Wakamatsu. I was wondering whether anyone has any information regarding his where-abouts and how much he was affected by the March disaster.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Couple of Snakes

Jets seem to fly over Hawke's Bay from Chile to Australia as there are no New Zealand airports in either direction indicated by this contrail. The "Snake" container is made from a very long extruded tube twisted back in its-self. On our first visit to Japan we were waiting at the airport in Okinawa to return to New Zealand. Two customs officers came and spoke with us asking whether NZ was a very mountainous country. They seemed to know quite a lot about NZ and that we were from there. We said that NZ was much like Japan with lots of mountains. They then wanted to know whether we had snakes in NZ - which we don't. They then told us that in Japan there is a saying that "Every mountain has it's snake" so why did NZ have mountains but no snakes?

Monday, December 5, 2011

More Pond Pictures

A couple more pictures of my Iris and Water lilies. I must try and find some more pot images but I have already posted all the best ones on my blog and I am not making new work.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Iris and Water lilies

Nothing like Monet's Garden but I do enjoy the Iris and Water lilies at this time of the year.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

More Flowers from My Garden

Here is another picture of iris from my garden. These are water iris and are most prolific but only flower for a short time each year. The other is an earlier photograph of the cystus by the steps with the house in the background.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Iris Flowers

My Iris are looking great this year so I thought I would share these pictures with you.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Manuka Bushes

New Zealand Native Manuka bushes do well here and are flowering well at the moment. It was interesting to see these shrubs being sold in Japan as something very special. Maybe people in other countries also find them special but, other than these cultivated varieties, they are often considered to be a weed in New Zealand.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Flower Arrangements

These two arrangements were done by a ikebana teacher for an exhibition we had in Gisborne. Using two almost identical containers for the top picture and a triple container of Estelle's for the second picture. People do not often buy two containers to use like this but they can lead to wonderful arrangements.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Backgrounds for Flower Arrangements

These backgrounds all rest, or are balanced, on small suitably shaped containers set behind them. The square one and the beaten one are mine while the flower shaped one was made by Estelle and all were fired in our anagama. The peonies in my last blog would look great in any of these.

Monday, November 21, 2011

From a Special Garden

Yesterday I visited a very special garden and an old house that is being lovingly restored. Peonies do not grow well in my garden so it was a thrill to see these ones looking so gorgeous.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Two Tall Containers

The pleasure of having a large anagama kiln is that tall containers like these will fit so easily. The arrangements were done by an Ikebana teacher for an exhibition we had in Gisborne some time ago.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Two Buckets by Estelle

These two buckets were made by Estelle and have been shown in several exhibitions of our work. In Japanese they are known as "Oke" and, although made of clay, often look like traditional wooden ones.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Not All Flowers Are White.

Sadly the blossom trees are all finished as we had a cold southerly wind that stripped the last blossoms away. The white wisteria is looking even better now as it has come out more and is even more pendulous.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Again Some White Flowers

Estelle's favourite flowers were nearly always white so there are many different white flowering shrubs and plants in the garden. I am not sure about the spelling of the name of the lower flower but it is of the "cystus" (?) family. There are others in the garden but not large ones like this. The top picture is of a dogwood called "Eddy's Wonder".

Friday, November 11, 2011

Two Pots from 1st. Firing of Kamaka Anagama

These two cut sided vases of mine were recently returned to me for my collection. They were from the first firing of our anagama and were really not appreciated at the time as the firing was not to our expectations. Peter and Diane Stichbury who helped us with this firing liked them and took them off. They have now returned them to me, along with several other pieces which are all part of our history.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

WW2 Spitfire at Neighbours

Last evening there was a different sound in the air. My neighbour had arrived home with a World War Two Spitfire. It is what's called an 80 or 90% true restoration.
It was the first time I had seen a Spitfire other than in a photograph. Sadly there was no chance of getting a flight as this plane has only one cockpit. There is no knowing what type of aircraft Gerry may arrive home with so life is always interesting for me.