Yesterday, four Mashiko potters gathered at Tokyo Tech and had a panel discussion. The subject was on thoughts of creating arts.
Hamada Tomoo, a grandson of Hamada Shoji said he works from 8 am to 5 pm daily and experiments his artistic creation plus producing other products like other craft workers.
Matsuzaki Ken said he only makes what he wants the way he wants, and in the past, potters tend to regard firing itself beyond own technique, something beyond their control, but he regards his firing as his original creation. I thought what he said was very interesting. Firing has been almost like the act of god, but how many woods, how fast or slow the potter can add them to his fire, and I can even imagine many elements potters can vary. Firing must be very tiring. They have to babysit their kiln for three days and nights. They can’t sleep until they are all done. He also said to make his arts special; he changed his technique from using wheel to hand twist-and-form.
Murata Hiroshi was the only Tokyo Tech graduate turned a Mashiko artist not only out of the four panelists, but since Hamada Shoji. He talked examining one word at a time about his thoughts. He talked the least among the four, and I thought he was like my father.
Harvey Young is an American artist from Chicago. He said his large plates were all destroyed in a few minutes when Mashiko was hit by the earthquake a year ago. We hear a lot about Northeast's devastation, but many other places were also affected like Mashiko. Harvey replied straightforwardly yes to the question, "Do you think of how you can sell well when you make potteries?" He also said he thinks about how well his customers can use his products. The first time his sensei, Mr. Seto, asked Harvey if he remembered how it was like when he sucked his thumb as a child. Mr. Seto said, "Make it like that." His words had a great influence on his pottery career.