Yesterday was a marathon wood firing effort.
I can’t begin to claim the credit, as I was helped by so many people completely voluntarily.
The day passed in a haze of hot sunshine, increasingly hot wood, and endless gifts of food, drink, homemade produce, stoking time and good humour. When advice was imparted, it was very subtle and I noticed how people were drawn to the firing out of true enjoyment and a desire to participate.
Akira San helped so much, to guide me at the beginning with a schedule and during the day; and the ever serene Matsunami San checked in on me occasionally and exuded his calm presence.
One particular highlight were the sweet potatoes from Erika San’s garden which roasted away infront of the kiln. She also spent some time stoking too after work.
Two major events occurred during the firing from a technical point of view. The first was around 600 degrees when huge plumes of black, acrid smoke billowed from the side of the kiln. I made a quick phone call to the office, swiftly followed by Yuki San arriving to re-assure me it was normal!
This took the firing back a bit and I struggled to get up to 800. Eventually making it with a little prayer to the patient Kiln God I’d made earlier, and prompted by fellow artist Wen Hsi who dropped by.
Both Antonio and Sita came and got stuck in with two very helpful sessions - Sita getting the kiln to 1200 at which point I was able to maintain the heat solo handed for 3 more hours.
Barbara brought a delicious bowl of udon soup with Inari tofu up to keep me going and provided much appreciated help.
Both Nate and Matt sat with me as it got late and we had a good chat about politics!
The session ended with frozen edamame from Jennifer Lee, and finally, a celebration beer and the very chilled out and calming presence of new arrival to SCCP, Man Yau from Helsinki.
All I can say is thank you, because apart from the obvious enjoyment and challenge of my first wood firing, it was the people (and Japanese luck) that made it.