Yes, can you believe it, I had a visit from Sachiyo Kawabe who is a very well known potter from Mashiko, just north of Tokyo.
She has family in England which was the real reason for her visit, but I felt very fortunate to have met her. She brought some of her pots to show me and left me with this excellent cup that I use for my tea every morning. And she picked out this painted bowl of mine to take home.
Mashiko is known as a pottery town and was the home for many years of famous potter Shoji Hamada. It was also here that Bernard Leach was first introduced to Japanese pottery and became life-long friends with Hamada, whom he brought back with him to work in the Leach Pottery in St Ives, Cornwall.
Sachiyo and her husband built their own kiln - called a climbing kiln - which only gets fired once a year. Fingers must be well and truly crossed at that kiln opening.
This is an example of a climbing kiln in Mashiko.
Unfortunately it was destroyed in the Japanese earthquake 2011, along with all her pots for a big exhibition. It is now rebuilt but what an experience. One's livelihood put back months in just a couple of seconds!
Should my small electric disappear into the ground I'm fortunate enough to be able to ring Potclays Ltd to send me a replacement.
But on to my recent making.....
I have discovered a sort of new technique that I'm rather pleased with. Firstly here is the end result.
I love the mixed glazes but I'm more pleased with the mixed clays.
I've never got this banding right before. It has always ended up a bit muddy. So here's the secret.
No mixing clays beforehand. Centre your one main clay on the wheel first, then add your contrasting clay as in the picture. I've got a bit of a Union Jack thing going on here by the look of it. Not intentional.
The more times you 'cone up' the more bands of colour you'll create. Now, press down into the centre straight away and pull out to make your pot as usual. Of course, the bands disappear at this point and you can't see much until you scrape away the surface when you 'turn' the pot at leather hard stage. But all becomes clear in the final firing. Have faith, it will happen.
And finally, just out of the kiln, is the last of my commissions. Japanese teapots (kyusu) and cups (chawans). Sachiyo looked them over just before I glazed them and I'm pleased to say that I took her enthusiastic nod as a double thumbs up!
HAPPY POTTING FOLKS