Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I should have started my new blog-wave with this article, but I was too excited to write about my trip to Japan first..anyway, here is my situation:
Since I just moved from Montréal to this charming little town in July, I have been working as part of the coordination team for the 1001 pots event. It was an extremely busy time. That ended the end of August.
No the wood is not to fire the kiln, it's a source of inspiration.
Then came the time to set-up my studio in my new home and unpack everything. What an annoying task. Where to store all the clay, which spot is the best for the wheel, adding shelves here and there and re-shaping a space that was so familiar to me before the move. Moving your studio is not great but being in the countryside and so close to forests and lakes is worth it. So all went well until it was time to decide what to do with the kilns, electric that is. Since we are renting a house at the moment, we can't and don't want to invest in a shed or a structure for my kilns. So after much thought and consulting other potters, I have decided to move only my small kiln and store it...outside. A potter friend made me a special extension cord for it. So I have been firing in it since end of October. It is my only kiln at the moment. I have to fire almost everyday because it's so small. And for bigger pieces, I have to control myself for the moment.
That piece barely fit
Small kiln, big breakthrough. One night, the kiln went on for 9 hours. Obviously something went wrong for a cone6 firing! I only rely on the small cone because it's such a tiny kiln. It's never done that in the 6 years I've had it. It went up to about cone10. The next morning it was like Christmas, totally unexpected results and pretty sweet too. I've been wanting to test my glazes at a higher temperature but haven't had the time and guts...Here it was, it did it for me. I've been firing cone9 since and boy am I happy!
One step at a time I am getting closer to my dream; a woodkiln.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Kiln building in Taku, Japan

I have recently come back from spending 2 weeks in the countryside of southern Japan. It was such a resourceful experience that I wish for all potters.
It was all Mike’s fault, the American potter living in Japan who always wanted to organize workshops to unite potters of the world under ceramics related circumstances.

The goal of the trip was to learn to build a Japanese woodkiln, half anagama and half noborigama, but very quickly it became a lot more than that.
I ended up meeting great local potters, toured their workspace and saw their kilns and amazing pottery.
I also got to know the other participants of the workshop who were also great potters and kiln builders. We were also very fortunate to watch Tsuruta Yoshihisa sensei give us throwing and traditional handbuilding demonstrations.
He also gave us trimming tips among many other ones.
All the exchanges of ideas, tips and approaches on pottery were a big inspiration to me and my work method.

A typical day would start at 8am after a communal breakfast. We would all walk down to the kiln site through rice terasses with a beautiful view of the mountains. 10 minutes later we would be on a real construction site.
Gravel, dust and excavated clay mounds everywhere.
Wood, mortar bags and tons of bricks neatly piled up.
Not to mention all the kinds of tools available, except pencils for some reason…
Craig Edwards was in charge of the kiln building plans and development. So we just waited for orders: dig deeper here, fill that hole with gravel, shovel some clay over there, sive it too, prepare more mortar, lay those bricks as level as you can (especially while Mike is around) etc.
Not to mention the art of brick cutting amazingly well done by Ron and Russ. The job that no one else had the courage, heart, and precision to do (or definitely didn’t want to be bent in half breathing dust near the atrocious sawing noise).
Anyway, everyone found a task and when it was done, there were plenty more to choose from. We had to make the kiln progress and so we tried. And even though we never saw the kiln fully finished, I think we made a great team and started a strong and tight kiln.
The days would fly by and so did the the great evenings, whether it was a pizza dinner in Mike’s clay oven under the stars or a nine course meal at a top notch restaurant served in beautiful local pottery. Sipping on some home made plum wine or trying a few different kinds of fine local Sake was definlitly a highlight for most of the team.

" I feel it's the beginning of a beautiful friendship "

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Taking it to a whole-other-level

OK, so I haven't written in forever...maybe even never, because I have only been posting photos all those years.
The time has come for me to make a choice. Delete my blog from the cyber-ceramics world or take it up a notch and actually write interesting things about my work, creative process, inspirations and projects. I am going with option #2. Watch out, I am taking it up a notch! To start it off, I will be posting an article about my wood-kiln building travel experience in Japan in October 2010.