Friday, September 30, 2011

Kumao Ohta-san

Estelle and I were taken to visit Ohta-san's workshop in 1978 and experienced our first taste of wood firing by being allowed to stoke his large noborigama a few times. We stayed a few days in Koishibara and were able to experience some of his workshop practices as well. These photos I took of Ohta-san making teapots and putting on vine handles. The vines were from wild wisteria which grows in the near-by forests. Sadly, Ohta-san has since died but the workshop is now run by his son. A wonderful DVD called "Potters at Work" by Marty Gross about Koishibara and Onda is available from

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Things Japanese

These things I would like to share with you. The tea pot and cups are by Kumao Ohta-san from Koishibara in Kyushu. I will show some more of him working in my next blog. The tray is also Japanese. I cannot remember where we bought the wooden doll but it is so serene and peaceful we could not resist having it.

Monday, September 26, 2011


These pictures were taken this morning - the cold nights have delayed the flowering so that, even today, the blossoms are not all fully out. We had a young Japanese man call once who asked if he may sit under this tree for awhile. He was very homesick and it reminded him of the lovely blossom viewing parties that they have in Japan each Spring

Saturday, September 24, 2011

More Spring Flowers

Blue is not an easy colour to photograph but I could not resist trying with these early spring flowers. I hope you will enjoy them too.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wall Bottles

These two wall bottles were made by Estelle. The top image is of an anagama fired ring bottle. These Estelle found fun to make and she made many variations. The decorated wall bottle was made when we were doing glazed wares and was found by my son on TradeMe. I enjoy having it back home.

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's Spring

I took these photos a few days ago when the blossoms of this Hollywood Bell tree were at their best. Now they have all gone but the sakura has started to flower and will be most lovely by the end of this week.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Japanese Lights

These two light fittings we purchased in Japan in 1978. The light over the dining room table was made long before the Beijing stadium was even thought of. The small hall light is very simple but so well crafted. The plate below is by Taizo who was a great friend of Paul Reps and a lovely man.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Early Spring

The Ash trees by the pond will not get their leaves for awhile yet but the azaleas are starting to flower which seems early. The marsh mallows are looking bright and it won't be long before the water lilies and iris come up and flower. The cock pheasant shown on the last blog was in my showroom yesterday but, fortunately, did not knock over any pots. It might have ended up in the oven if it had.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Maori Carvings and a Visitor

This picture is of just a small part of the carvings at the Marae at near-by Paki Paki. I do not really understand their carvings as they often depict their ancestral history. It would take years to fully understand all the stories. The cock pheasant has been a constant visitor over the last two or three years. Last year he and his mate had two chicks but I have not seen them for some time now.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Recent Pictures

This evening cloud photographed during August was really spectacular. The trimmed trees often intrigue overseas visitors where animals are not so common. Sheep will reach as high as they can to eat the leaves from under the trees and make it look as though the farmer has been out trimming and tidying.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Two Tea Bowls

Here is another piece of Oribe ware but this time a rather commercial product. It is the same with the Shino bowl. A Japanese art critic and a friend gave us these tea bowls in 1984 with the advice that we should not continue with our natural ash anagama firings but should concentrate on doing Shino and Oribe. As much as we admire these styles we only wished to pursue the old style anagama fired aesthetic. We never understood quite why they wanted us to change our ways - perhaps they thought it would be more modern.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Oribe Kogo

Estelle and I purchased this small Oribe Kogo (incense box) from a small antique shop in Kyoto. It is a beautiful example of Oribe ware and wonderfully crafted and fired. I have always wondered who made it - the lady in the shop was unable to understand our questions. I doubt that it was anyone famous as we did not pay a high price but it would still be nice to know.

Monday, September 5, 2011


The white magnolia I picked and showed on my last blog still looks great. All the flowers that were left on the tree are now ruined as we had a hard frost the next morning which burnt them all badly. This photo was taken the day I picked the others. The pink camellia looks well in this lovely basket made by a New Zealand artist.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Spring Flowers

These yellow pokers I found in the garden yesterday. I probably should have photographed them a couple of days earlier so they looked their best. This cube container, together with some lovely flowers, is so easy to arrange that I use it quite often.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Where Ideas Come From

Officially today is the first day of Spring in New Zealand and it is easy to be inspired by the early flowers and bursting buds. I wondered whether Tetsuzo Shimaoka was thinking about a white Japonica when he was decorating this lovely plate.