Tuesday, February 09, 2010


as i mentioned previously, some toes on my left foot went white and numb twice last week for no apparent reason. fearing that i was developing Raynaud's phenomenon, i looked into any dietary changes i could make that might help. niacin was recommended to help open the blood vessels, so i bought a supplement and began taking it. when you take a lot of niacin, it dilates your vessels and you get what's called a niacin flush...your hands and feet turn red. so these days you can pretty much always catch me red-handed. har har.

for about, oh, three years or so i've been wanting to get my hands back into some clay and play around like i did in college. ceramics was never my main medium, so it was just a relaxing, but still creative activity, while i focused on painting and printmaking. however, all my efforts to turn up a place where i could throw some pottery on a wheel came to nothing. finally last week fern agreed to take me to a little studio in a small pottery town called tokoname to sling some mud...but first we had to find it!
we set out on a circuitous "pottery studio" path in the rain and took our time, content to get lost, which we did. we shopped in some little glass and ceramic studios, bought some delicious bread at a bakery, ogled a cute young artist filing beautiful metal cups in his phone booth-sized studio, and ran into an old woman who bemoaned our visit was on such a gloomy day. when we responded in japanese, she expressed delight that we could understand and gave us each two oranges. we staggered down some steep stairs...and ended up back near the beginning! after several damp map consultations, we managed to find the place.

pottery bottle wall

i liked this white meter/black wall.

fern had been a few times before, so she had a good rapport with watanabe-san, the artist. rarely do i like someone as much and feel as comfortable with them as i did with this 60-something, twinkly-eyed rascal. his ease and good humor made me relax right away, and he both helped us enough and left us alone enough. i felt a little nervous because i realized it had been about nine years since i last threw anything, and i didn't want to mess up! however, it felt good; it was exactly the kind of experience i've been longing for!
my first bowl was ok but a little on the inelegant side, but my second one was much better. i'm afraid it was all over too quickly. for the price, we got a certain amount of clay, i guess, and he will trim, fire, and glaze it (to our specifications), and then mail the finished bowls to us! fun!

fern and mr. watanabe

wheel action


our greenware

after we washed up, his wife (more discerning, so though generous, i felt a little less comfortable around her) offered us shako from a straw basket. peeled, these critters are not so bad-looking, but i had never seen them still in their bodies before. can i just say...dude, sick! they look like disgusting ocean insects. to top that off, the wife showed us how to break off the tail and suck out he juices, break off the head and suck out the juices, and then she handed the same one she had sucked on to fern to eat! i wouldn't budge. i'm sure it would have been fine, but i don't care much for any shellfish (unless we're talking cajun shrimp), so why bother? i feasted on parinko crackers instead.

...a little more fyi on shako, from wikipedia: "Oratosquilla oratoria. Called "sea locusts" by ancient Assyrians, "prawn killers" in Australia and now sometimes referred to as "thumb splitters" by modern divers — because of the relative ease the creature has in mutilating small appendages — mantis shrimp sport powerful claws that they use to attack and kill prey by spearing, stunning or dismemberment. Although it happens rarely, some larger species of mantis shrimp are capable of breaking through aquarium glass with a single strike from this weapon."


  1. there's some statistic about mantis shrimp...they're the deadliest animal based on size or something. they are powerful and treacherous. and hideous, i see. *shiver*
    red-handed, huh? ha ha.
    is it helping your toes?

  2. I would guess your desire for and experience of getting to throw some pots would bring some of the familar type feelings of being at home (stateside). So glad you had the opportunity. Your search for it sounded fun too!
    Happy Day!
    auntie norma

  3. my toes seem good lately. i had a cold, numb feeling last night but was happy to find my toes were still pink and not white when i pulled my sock off.
    yeah the ceramics really reminded me of being in college, which i still miss.

  4. i love the photo of the pottery wall.

  5. hi lor. what the heck is with your toes??? i know about raynauds. hmm... niacin is fun, no. although the first time i did it i was convinced i was getting hives. are you better?

    you and fern sort of look alike.