Refined by Fire, Potter Clayton Amemiya
The desktop picture on my computer at the moment is an image of Charles Eames pinning a mixture of plant specimens from the Mojave Desert to a 22inch long tack board inside his studio. He would regularly clip on the board a mixture of collected off-cuts to inspire his own designs, whether it be through form, texture, colour or pattern, these influences can often be seen in his finished designs. On a personal level, this seems to be a theme that’s popped up a number of times in January, I’ve coined it ‘inspiration in nature’ and it’s something that I’ve researched a bit this weekend.
The short film below captures this method first hand thanks to Clayton Amemiya, a Hawaiian artist who was originally taught in Okinawa by master potter Seisho Kuniyoshi. Clayton fires his pots in an Anagama, a wood fired kiln used in traditional Japanese pottery where the gas and ash act as a natural glazing agent. Clayton has been perfecting his Anagama technique for 40 years and has become very skilled at this Japanese art form. He’s moved by traditional asian pottery from the 1500’s, mainly Korean teaware used in the Japanese tea ceremony. As one can imagine, leaving the material in such a raw and rugged state, along with firing in this manner, the finished pots come out the kiln both organic and earthy.
I was talking about Clayton using nature as his main source of aesthetic inspiration, in particular the lava fields in his local area. Which I thought was a fascinating link between the pots and them being fired at a high temperature. Most importantly, he tries to use the pattern and texture in nature as inspiration. In the end the firing will swallow up the pots and take all responsibility, this leads to interesting and unusual effects on the surface. I hope you enjoy this short film below, it’s fantastic to watch such an enthusiastic maker in his element.