My Anagama design is based on mainly my late master, Furutani Michio (1946-2000) and many Mediaeval Japanese kiln-sites I saw in Japan. I visited Master Furutani in Shigaraki a few times and had a chance to help his firings and observed him carefully while he was firing his Anagama. He appreciated my seriousness and my wish to build Anagama in the U.K. He gave me really useful advice and ideas most of which were not included in his ’Anagama’ book.
I studied many articles on Mediaeval kilns for years and also visited many modern potteries and kilns, including a few dozens of old kiln-sites in Japan,
Those big bricks I use are heavy industrial kiln bricks. They came from a local cement factory which was going to be shut-down and the bricks are super heavy and dense, also they were all slightly tapered. Those bricks would be for slow firings because it takes a few days to warm up the bricks before I start pushing temperature up for pots in the kiln. It suits me fine but my Anagama is not designed for an economical firing in time and fuels.
My first Anagama ‘Moby Dick’ was built in 1995. I was hoping some serious potters would join me and work together at first. People got interested because they had never seen the type of Anagama I was building. I had a lot of offers of help and visits by wood-fire enthusiasts while my work was in progress, and I accepted some of their help. Unfortunately most of them were just curious about new things they have not seen before. They came for chatting and asking too many questions with a bit of physical work for a day. After having seen hard work was involved, most of them never came back again. I had rather enough of nosy enthusiasts.
The only offer I had to think it over seriously was come from Patrick Sargent who were working in Switzerland at that time. He wanted to come back and work in England. I still think what would have happened if I had accepted his offer. (Gas)