Completing Work in the Studio….

Most of us are leaving the residency the end of this month so we are working intensely to complete our work.  I am in the midst of glazing which is fraught with complexities in my  studio at home but the process is amplified while working elsewhere.  They have the usual electric and gas kilns and additionally, anagamas (climbing wood fired) kilns.  Wood firing in an anagama kiln has a long tradition in Shigaraki and shortly after I arrived here, the technician Yoshiko-Rakusai, a ceramacist herself, persuaded a potter who was firing to place a small piece of mine in one of the  anagamas.  I quite like the result!

small pot fired in an anagama kiln – the wood ash forms the glaze.

While I am very fond of this surface for non-functional work, I feel I need to have a smoother surface for functional ware – something that doesn’t particularly concern the potters here.  I made a trek to the glaze shop with technician Akira and two  visiting artists, Ryoichi Suzuki and Takashi Natazato  who were buying clay and engobes, and I made my selection – so the dye has been cast.  Debra has been good enough to put some samples of mine in a glaze kiln she is firing today, so I’ll see the results tomorrow!  Below is the work I have yet to glaze!  Lots to do…

my black and white functional wares and some small porcelain pillow tiles waiting to be glazed

My glaze firing is on the 20th so I do have some time and hopefully some confidence in what I am doing.  I’ll keep you posted.

On another note, I’d like to tell you about another studio artist, Amy Perejuan Capone.

Amy and the ultra-light plans she has been working from

Amy Perejuan Capone and the Making of an Ultra-light Plane

Amy was glazing some ‘parts’ to her work and she echoed my thoughts about the process being fraught with anxiety. I  well know your work lives or dies with the results.

Amy is an artist from Fremantle, Australia and has been at Shigaraki since the beginning of January. She has been making an ultra-light glider plane out of clay – no mean feat. I think it’s amazing! I asked her about the genesis for doing this.

She said she didn’t know where to begin or why she was doing this project. She had flown an ultra-light herself with her dad as a young girl, but things became a little complicated between them in her late teens – not an unusual father/daughter story.

She went on to art school which she felt didn’t really help to expand her ideas, then technical school where she focused on making objects for use in everyday life, and the meaning they held for her. A residency in Greenland focused her on the relationships between people, climate change and forces that disrupt our ways of doing things. She came to realize the plane symbolized her adventurous dad (and a number of his flaws) and offered her an opportunity to explore breakages and the disruption of relationships including the one with her dad. She recognized her father’s dedication to flying and an adventurous life has given her a different window on the world.

She has reconnected with her father – he has sent her plans for the plane, technical dimensions and they are working together on this project. She doesn’t know the function of many of the parts she has constructed, but she will talk with him about their purposes while putting it together with him when she returns to Fremantle. The work will be on exhibit this coming December and while she’ll try to have it completed by then she feels fine if the framework is skeletal as this is a work in progress. She plans on having a performance component to the exhibit where video and audio processes will document involvement with the aircraft and her dad.

Amy started this process with gusto at the Shigarakii residency and it has required a level of sustained focus while maintaining a constant pace with our friend the clay. I admire her adventurousness, tenacity and the thought behind this fantastic project.

Read more about Amy at or Instagram @wilhelm-wandering.

components for the plane and a retro tv to be included in the exhibit

some idea of  the scale and the intracacies of the work

Photos of the ultra-light to refer to – lists  of things to do abound in her work space

and a Photo of Barbara Tong with her Work in the Studio

The miniature size and detail of these pieces is quite wonderful – Barbara is in the studio before her exhibit in Kyoto – see previous blog for work  displayed in the gallery. Note Debra working in the background!






4 thoughts on “Completing Work in the Studio….

  1. Sarie Hobbs

    Thanks, Mary!! Beautiful & exciting! My ex & my daughters lived in Fremantle years ago & they still have friends there –will let them know about the exhibition! Would love to hear details when available.
    I will be in Vancouver some time in April– do not have dates yet–will keep you posted!

    1. Mary Daniel Post author

      Hi Sarie,- glad you are enjoying the posts! Small world it is – I will find out the gallery and dates of the exhibit so their/your friends can go. I’m looking forward to seeing you in April – I hear you have warmer weather now!

  2. Naomi

    Hi Mary, WOW!
    This surface is amazing for functional ware— with chopsticks and other wood utensils, there’s no need for a smooth surface. Looking forward to seeing how things turn out. I think of you and Deb often; I wish I were there!

  3. Sophie B

    Hi Mary, great to meet you and Debra in Shigaraki! I’m back in Vancouver now. I enjoy reading your blog. Looking forward to seeing the results after the glaze firing and how the rest of your Japan adventure goes.

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