I had a pleasant visit and discussion with a world renown ceramicist the other day. Her name is Tacy Apostolik. She is an exception in the Japanese ceramic tradition having served a two-year apprenticeship with Shigaraki Master Kiyotsuga Sawa in Japan. She spent around fourteen years over there learning the secrets and traditions involved in wood-firing in an anagama and a noborigama kiln using the rough, quartzey Shigaraki clay. She has shown in the finest galleries in Japan and the USA.
We talked at length about the wood-firing process she employs and the Old Edgefield pottery tradition. It seems we both pull stray roots from the walls of our pots as we are turning them on the wheel and often dig out the stray rock and patch the hole. Human involvement in the production of ceramic forms brings a certain amount of like experiences, regardless of vast oceans or land distance. It was great to hear some of her experiences and views, though I hogged most of the conversation. We toured the studio and then spent time looking over my groundhog kiln.
Tacy came with supreme sculptor goddess and professor Priscilla Hollingsworth from Augusta State University. Thanks, Priscilla! It was a real treat comparing notes with Tacy. I often feel a little isolated since there are no wood-firers around here. This is the center for one of the most amazing wood-fired ceramics traditions in U.S. history and I’m the only one true to the process using original materials and methods.
Here’s a photo I found online of a piece of Tacy’s art. Yum! She pre-stresses some of her work, often prying molten pieces in the kiln with long iron bars into unusual forms. Notice the effects of the wood ash on the pot below.
Other news…I recently participated in an annual Heritage Show at the State Museum in Columbia, SC. It was a treat to see some of my contemporaries and their pots at the show! The Chief Curator of Art seemed to bypass my booth every time he passed by….not sure why, maybe he’s allergic to real Edgefield-style pottery or something.
Also, we are adding a bagwall about 2/3rds of the way back in the ware bed of the groundhog kiln. Our taller than normal flue draws a great deal of heat out and prolongs the firing time needed for a kiln of this size. We hope the bagwall might stop some of the rapid loss of heat as well as put us in a 24-30 hour firing time frame. The 40 hour firings are just a heap of stress and fatigue on bones over half a century old!
Our next firing should produce some really great items in time for you to buy yourself a Christmas present! We’ll post notes and photos soon after we fire.