‘Anagamania’ -9- 穴窯築き : The Anagama Former

Once the former for the new kiln (Anagama) has been done, a visible change of Anagama ‘Moby’ made me feel satisfied. I am happy with my new kiln design. All patient preparations I have done, started taking shape. I know that there are still many difficult tasks to be cleared and many weeks will be spent before a very first wood-firing with ‘Moby‘.

My new ‘Moby‘ has a slightly complicated concept. I wanted to design the best Anagama I have ever built. I also wanted to make it not only functional but also beautiful (if possible). The kiln in the secret woods doesn’t have a roof (maybe I have it next spring) but it already has a wood-fired Raku kiln and a small moss garden alongside. The site is very quiet and peaceful. Only frequent visitors to this kiln are a flock of deer (about 30~40 of them) and other wild animals (foxes, badgers and owls are most common here) at night I can see and smell their presence every time I come back to work. I have tried not to disturb their natural life and have mostly been working with hand tools (I stopped using my noisy chain-saw a few years ago).

Anagama ‘Moby’ is a climbing single-chambered kiln with many mediaeval features and measures just over 20 ft. (about 6.5 m) long. Yhe front of ‘Moby’ is slightly buried as the kiln foundation in the woods didn’t have steep degrees for Anagama, so I had to dig and built a small hill for the smoke channel (also known as ‘Sutema’/a waisting chamber) and the chimney of the kiln.

I love working outdoors and here I just work physically without modern technology. Wood-fired pottery only requires ancient skills. I would very much feel like I am working in the Mediaeval times in Japan if I didn’t hear airplanes passing above the woods.
I don’t miss much of Japan as I have got a small collection of mediaeval pottery at Tring home.
… What I really miss here are steep mountains covered with trees and a morning walk in misty mountain forest paths over there. (Gas)

About Gas

Hi, I am a wood-fire potter, living and working in the Japanese tradition in Tring, Hertfordshire (UK). Following mediaeval potter's wisdom, I design and build simple wood-fired kilns called 'anagama' for long period of firing and 'raku-gama' for quick (glazed tea bowl) firing. My anagama firing usually takes 9 - 10 days.
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6 Responses to ‘Anagamania’ -9- 穴窯築き : The Anagama Former

  1. Jon Cullum says:

    Craft, art and beauty in one structure.

  2. Alan Aitchison says:

    What a lovely, organic shape. It looks as if, when completed, it should fit perfectly into your forest.

    Perhaps if you miss mountains and mist, some of Scotland’s hills and glens may appeal. Glen Coe, for instance has great atmosphere. The ancient Caledonian Pine Forests around the Cairngorms with their deep sphagnum mosses and rare wildlife offers many beautiful walks. If you can ever manage up the these areas, I would be happy to offer further advise to suit your wishes.

    • Gas says:

      Hi Alan,
      Many thanks for your kind suggestion. Living in the U.K., I have never been to Scotland. Yet I am sure that the hills and glens are stunnigly beautiful there. I hope I could visit in the near future.
      The dream of my morning walk in the mist must be somewhere in Japan though.
      (Gas)

      • Alan Aitchison says:

        Home is always best, Gas. I can understand that. My wife and I were privileged to walk through the forest near Sasayama Guchi when we visited John Dix about 18 months ago. Wonderful experience, so peaceful!

  3. James Hazlewood says:

    I’m so very pleased to have been able to visit the site and take photos of the kiln building process. One thing that was really so evident was exactly how peaceful the location is. The only noise to be heard is nature! In fact I don’t think we even spoke much whilst there. I did hear one engine but it was a plane flying overhead. It was also lovely to witness the flock of deer coming to check on the progress. It’s amazing what you have achieved there Gas, You should be exceptionally proud. The kiln looks beautiful already – an artistic installation. I now can’t wait for the first firing. You’ve kept me waiting for some of your pots for quite some time now Gas. But we very much treasure the ones we have. I feel honoured to have been invited to the site and I have the camera ready for future visits to document the build. I can fully appreciate why you would want to keep such a beautiful place known to only a few trusted people. Let me know when you want me to return and take more pics. I look forward to seeing you.

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