Earth and Fire: Wood-firing with Ken Matsuzaki and Noah Hughey-Commers, May 28-31, 2024
Join us to learn master wood-firing techniques!
In this can't-miss intensive with internationally renowned artist Ken Matsuzaki, students will have the chance to learn Matsuzaki's creative philosophy, create chawans and vases, and complete a four-day wood-firing hosted by Noah Hughey-Commers in his anagama kiln.
A master ceramist from Mashiko, Japan, Matsuzaki is one of the leading potters in the world today. After apprenticing for Living National Treasure Tatsuzo Shimoka (who himself apprenticed for Shoji Hamada), Matsuzaki established his own studio in Mashiko in the late 1970s. Matsuzaki has exhibited his art around the world ever since.
The wood-firing includes an artist talk in DC and the firing with Matsuzaki and Noah Hughey-Commers. Interested students are encouraged to sign up for the corresponding hands-on workshop at District Clay Center (DCC). A translator will be present during each day of the firing.
The artist talk will take place at 6 PM on May 24, location TBD. During the lecture, Matsuzaki will discuss his background as a potter, his creative philosophy, and his latest artwork. This artist talk will be open to the public and will provide context for the techniques students will learn in the workshops.
The wood-firing portion of the workshop will take place from May 28-31 at Muddy Creek Pottery in central Virginia. At the kiln site, students will work with Ken, Noah, and Muddy Creek's firing team to complete a 4-day wood-firing. This traditional firing method involves manually firing a kiln with wood as the source of fuel. Ken's unique firing methods involve using pine charcoal at the end of the firing for dramatic surface results. As student assistants, participants in the workshop will complete 14 hours of firing as they learn how the kiln works, what's happening inside, and how the firing itself can change the finished results of their work. Students should make no more than 50 mid-size pots for the firing. District Clay will follow up with students about parameters and best practices for the pots.
Located in Lovingston, Virginia, Muddy Creek Pottery has plenty of open space for students to camp for free during the intensive. The site includes an outdoor shower with hot water, an outhouse, and a cooktop. If students prefer, there are B&Bs, AirBnBs, and a reasonably-priced motel nearby. In proper wood-fire fashion, students will prepare and share meals together at the rustic kiln site. District Clay will work with workshop participants to coordinate necessary travel and carpooling.
To make the firing accessible to more people, District Clay is offering a $70 discount for students who would like to volunteer extra help. Student volunteers will assist Noah for one day during the week of April 29 or on June 1 after the firing is complete. Volunteers will scrape kiln shelves, paint them with kiln wash, and stack them for storage during their shift. If you'd like to volunteer, select the appropriate option below. DCC will follow up regarding details.
By the end of the firing, students will have an understanding of the pottery traditions that have influenced Matsuzaki, new knowledge in firing atmospheric kilns, their own wood-fired ceramics, and an unforgettable experience firing with Ken Matsuzaki and Noah Hughey-Commers.
Special discount: Students wishing to participate in both the weekend workshop and the wood-firing will recieve a 10% discount off their purchase!
*A great deal of preparation is necessary prior to firing the anagama. As many as 800 pots must be carefully loaded into the kiln. The kiln then must preheat to be sure there is no moisture in the kiln or in the pots before the firing begins. These preliminary steps will be taking place during the hands-on workshop at DCC. Accordingly, the pieces the students create with Ken at DCC can’t be fired in the anagama workshop. Students should prepare other pieces to fire in the firing workshop.
- Artist talk: May 24, 6 PM, location TBD
- Wood-firing: May 28-31, Muddy Creek Pottery
- Cost covers 4 days of wood-firing with Matsuzaki and Noah Hughey-Commers, no more than 50 mid-size pots in the kiln, and bisque-firing at DCC
- Students will each fire over multiple shifts totaling 14 hours
- Maximum of 14 students may enroll in each workshop
- Students wishing to participate in both the weekend workshop and the wood-firing will recieve a 10% discount off their purchase!
IMPORTANT: Everyone entering District Clay must be vaccinated. You will be required to show your vax card or a photo of your card when you arrive at District Clay for your workshop. No entry without proof of vaccination and no refunds for failure to show card. To see more about our COVID-19 responses, please go here.
About Ken Matsuzaki:
"Ken Matsuzaki received a degree in Ceramic Art from Tamagawa University School of Fine Arts in Tokyo in 1972, after which he moved to Mashiko to apprentice with Tatsuzo Shimaoka. After a five-year apprenticeship, Matsuzaki established his own kiln, Yuushin Gama. Although Matsuzaki's work has a strong grounding in Mingei philosophy, his approach is very contemporary and focuses on the style of Oribe-yaki with yohen, shino, and oribe glazes." In some of his more recent work, Matsuzaki has abandoned the wheel. He is handbuilding, cutting away at the clay much as a sculptor would while maintaining the rugged character and energy of the raw clay.
"Matsuzaki’s work has been exhibited all over the world and is a part of the permanent collections of the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, California; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio; Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, Florida; Holderness School, Holderness, New Hampshire; Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York'; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Sackler Museum of Art, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, Haifa, Israel; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England; and Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts."
**Images courtesy of Ken Matsuzaki, Susie Cohen, and Noah Hughey-Commers.