The kiln blazed on that day as it worked hard creating our glaze fired pieces. I love the heat that emanates from a roaring kiln. Sure, going around there initially was a little scary but after awhile, I started noticing how it was just part and parcel of life there. Sensei’s mum would make use of the heat of the kiln to dry laundry a little faster. M-san would put wooden boards covered with freshly thrown pieces on the railings over the kiln to quicken the drying process. Each time the kiln ran, it did so with the blessings of the Kiln Gods. Which Sensei would appease with a symbolic offering of Sake and a flower, played on a dish above the kiln.
Because the kiln was at a temperature high enough to turn metal red hot, it was the perfect timing to make our metal trimming tools. We had gotten iron bars from the tool shop in town and we learnt how to bend them and sharpen them to get our own trimming tools. It was almost like attending a Metalsmith class. First, we heated up the tip of the metal strips to get them red hot. Then we forged them with a hammer. The fun sound was hearing the sizzle as they were quickly extinguished in a bucket of water. We would repeat that two or three times to strengthen the metal. Then, it was time for the shaping. By using existing trimming tools as models, we used one of Sensei’s machines to bend the tip of the metal strip into the shape we wanted. Mainly a direct perpendicular bend for regular trimming. Sometimes curved if you wanted to use it for carving. Then the last bit was sharpening the edge with a grinder. All steps seemed way easier when Sensei did it than when we tried. But the main thing I could see was that he really put pride in being able to make his own tools, to his specification. The previous participants K and F had told us that in the end they hardly used those hand made trimming tools because they hadn’t seemed to work very well. But learning how to make them at least, is the important part. M-san too, said that the very first lesson at her ceramics school, was not anything related to clay or throwing, but was learning to make her own tools. It’s interesting that in this day and age where the first thing we do instinctively if we need a tool is to search online to purchase it, there are people who still place great emphasis on making their own tools.
Went to the one ‘cool’ cafe nearby 😉 Pupu Cafe. Indeed, it was so damn cool. Hawaiian themed cafe with a most chill vibe, serving mainly rice based meals. Japanese curry, Thai green curry, Chicken Gabao rice, Garlic and shrimp rice. Then there were interesting desserts such as Macadamia nut pancake, acai berry bowls. We went there quite a few times that I pretty much memorized the small but quaintly written out menu. The ladies who ran the shop were a mother and daughter team. Exuded coolness, the mother with short buzz cut hair and the daughter always with a unique hair tie.
As we were finishing our lunch, a couple came in with their pet owl. The first took out the owl’s stand and placed it by the side of their table outside. We couldn’t believe our eyes. ^^; Who would have thought. In a small cafe in Seto. The owner said occasionally that couple would come by with their owl. We were lucky we got to see it that day~
Wrote in my journal that night:
Stayed up till 1 am lol
First and last time perhaps
Still struggling with that anxiety maybe to not want to waste pieces… in the end no harm in throwing and then rethrowing again. Just the struggle like any human to want to not have wasted time throwing.”
It was one night when me and M really worked into the night. I definitely got influenced by her to be more hardworking. She had done two weeks at a pottery village called Jingdezhen in China, where they were famous for porcelain. Over there she would often work till the closing hour at about 10pm. It made me realize that what she said was true. That we have only so much time at the studio in Seto that it would be a waste not to make use of it as much as possible. I remember that was a night of interesting conversations… amidst the background classical Indian and Nepalese music.