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Erasmus James

Wood-Fired Ceramics

I have lived in Japan since 1996 and worked as a potter since 1999. In that time I have gone from making pots in my spare time to full time apprentice to establishing my own wood fired kiln and studio.  Life in Japan poses its challenges, but for a potter it can also be tremendously rewarding.

The five years spent as an apprentice in Bizen have strongly influenced the way I think about pottery and the process of making it.  In 2004 my wife and I moved to Tamba and I built a ten metre anagama (traditional Japanese wood-firing kiln) which was successfully fired for the first time in 2006.  Since then I have fired the kiln twice a year, each kiln holding 800 to 1,000 pots.

I work in a very direct way with the ‘stuff’ of pottery – I process my own clay and split my own wood.  The nature of the clay, mostly from Bizen, is essential to the feel of my work.  I use no glazes.  All my pots are fired solely with wood for a week to ten days in the anagama. Choice of clay and positioning of the pots in the kiln is critical to success.

It is a long and demanding process requiring resourcefulness and flexibility, strength and sensitivity.  The clay, the forms and the firing – from this deceptively simple process can emerge pots with a complex, subtle and long lasting beauty.  For me it is an endlessly fascinating challenge.

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