Wood Firing Residency in Tokoname, Japan

Wood firing residency in Tokoname at Peter Seabridge’s studio

As a ceramics artist, I am constantly seeking innovative methods to produce distinctive artworks and enhance my skills. My primary goal is to share my passion with others and impart my knowledge. Therefore, when the opportunity arose for me to participate in a pottery residency in Japan, I was elated.

Wheel throwing using Shigaraki clay at Tokoname with Peter Seabridge

The residency took place at the studio of Peter Seabirdge in Tokoname, a city situated just south of Nagoya. This locale is renowned for being one of the six ancient kilns in Japan and is has a long history in pottery making.

Loading of wood fire kiln with Master Potter Lim Kim Hui

Upon our arrival, it was springtime in Tokoname, and the enchanting sight of cherry blossoms in full bloom greeted us. Accompanied by ten other potters from Singapore, I resided in a charming farmhouse that served as our studio. The refreshing spring air served as a profound source of inspiration for me, and I endeavored to capture its energy within my works utilizing the local Tokoname and Shigaraki clay.

Wood fired kiln fly ash covered ceramic artworks made of Shigaraki and Tokoname clay

Within the 18-day residency, we dedicated a week to creating pieces using both the wheel-throwing and hand-building techniques. Following the initial bisque firing, we took turns entering the narrow kiln to meticulously pack our works inside. Preparing the necessary wood fuel for the kiln required several days of laborious effort. The firing process itself lasted 48 hours, and we worked in teams around the clock to stoke the intense flames. This demanding process provided us with invaluable lessons and knowledge under the guidance of Peter the firing resulted in the creation of truly unique works of art.

Wood fired at Tokoname, Shigaraki pottery covered in fly ash

After eagerly waiting for three days for the kiln to cool down, we finally had the exhilarating opportunity to open it. Our hard work paid off as we beheld a breathtaking collection of beautiful pieces inside. Covered in wood ash, the works boasted a natural glaze, revealing captivating colors ranging from shades of green, blue, purple, to brown. This fusion of wood ash and reduction environment produced astonishing hues.

Shigaraki and Tokoname clay wood fired pottery

In total, I managed to create over 60 pieces during this transformative trip. Among them, I took particular pride in a large piece showcased in the middle of the slide. Its form and coloration came together splendidly, captivating both the eye and the imagination. This journey proved to be an invaluable learning experience, offering profound insights into the art of wood firing and inspiring me to create even more unique works of art.

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