2013 new Horsehair Raku work


I worked on an order for a 22 inch big horsehair raku plate during the months of August and September.

It is quite a process.

First, you throw several big plates because with the shaping, trimming and drying a lot can happen.

Ferric fuming Horsehair Raku Plate “Caldera”, 22″ x 22″ x 1.5″, 55cm x 55cm x 2.5cm.

Then you have to deal with the thermal shock from hot to cold when you take it out. The plate just fitst in my 24 inch round electric kiln. I lift the plate out of the kiln with my gloves on (it is too big and too heavy to get out of the kiln with tongs), then I put it down quickly on a very porous heat resistant brick before it burns through my gloves. With such a big plate I need help. My husband picks up the plate with gloves on, rushes over to the spray booth and puts it in on the heat resistant bricks for the decoration process. This goes all very fast.

Ferric fuming Horsehair Raku Plate “Volcano”, 22′ x 22′ x 1″, 55cm x 55cm x 2cm.

Then quickly and very controlled I put on some horsehair, sugar and/or feathers and spray with ferric chloride for the brownish-orange coloring. You see and hear the piece expanding and working and of course sometimes you hear the inevitable “crack” sound! Too bad. You continue decorating until it is too cool for putting on more horsehair etc. It is fast like 1 – 2 minutes!


And when one plate cracks and brakes very nicely you continue very fast with the decoration process and try to connect both parts with horsehair running across. So even though it are 2 pieces, it will make 1 whole work.

Ferric fuming Horsehair Raku Plate “Open up your mind”, 19″ x 19″ x 2.5″, 48cm x 48cm x 6cm.




Participation in ACGA Festival.

After our move out of Japan this last March I will have my next exhibition at the Palo Alto ACGA Festival.
The ACGA is the Association of Clay and Glass Artists of California.

The festival will be on July 13 + 14, 2013 from 10 am – 5 pm.
It is held at the Palo Alto Art Center at 1313 Newell Rd, Palo Alto, CA USA.

Palo Alto, CA 94303, USA

Over 150 clay + glass artists;
Clay + glass demos;
Hands-on clay activities;
Gourmet food + music;
Free admission.

Info: 650-329-2366 or acga.net

I hope you all can come and visit my SwanCeramics Art booth!
Thank you!

New cutting-edge Kamakura-Red works June 2013

I made some new Kamakura-Red works in May and June for the upcoming ACGA Art Festival in Palo Alto, California on July 13 + 14, 2013. ACGA is the Association of Clay and Glass Artists of California.

I started cutting again in my work. I don’t have to take it around the world to Japan at the moment, so it gives me more freedom and exploration. I had lots of fun!

Kamakura-Red “Whirling Wave” Bowl. 



Kamakura-Red “Guri” Bowl.

Kamakura-Red “Nami” Bowl.

Kamakura-Red “Whirling Wave” Vase.



Kamakura-Red “Swirl” Vase.





Kamakura-Red “SwanFlower” Vase.


Simon Leach workshop




Already 3 weeks ago I attended a workshop by Simon Leach at the Civic Art Center in Walnut Creek, California.


He is the grandson of Bernard Leach a master potter from Great Britain. I know Hamada Tomoo, the grandson of Hamada Shoji a master potter and National Living Treasure from Mashiko Japan.



Also look on my website/blog: http://swanceramics.com/2006/07/13/yesterday-i-got-the-news-that-my-horsehair-vase/


Bernard Leach and Hamada Shoji are two very famous and influential potters for their countries and for the international ceramic world and history and they were good friends.


So, I wanted to meet the grandson, Simon Leach.

7 Basic steps of throwinghttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DU-VE1wnRGw

Bernard Leach built a pottery studio in St.Ives, not too far from Cornwall in England. He and his friend Hamada Shoji were making history by working diligently to prevent the loss of one of the world’s most important art forms: pottery.



Simon never had the opportunity to work with his grandfather. The family moved away and his life in the beginning walked a different path. But by traveling around he started to discover the pottery way of life. And he never could forget the simplistic yet idealistic advise of his grandfather: “Look to combine beauty and function in a pot; A pot is a living thing”. http://voices.yahoo.com/simon-leach-genetics-pottery-1568987.html



Simon himself says on his website: http://www.simonleachpottery.com/

“Growing up surrounded by a family of potters, I draw on those early influences: the work of my Father, (David Leach), and Grandfather, (Bernard Leach), Japanese and Korean art. I have assimilated my surroundings; therefore my work has become a natural expression of what is personal to me. I find the ongoing challenge of discovering my own visual language and voice as a potter both exciting and rewarding. 
It is a lifetime journey.”


It was a wonderful workshop. He is a very functional potter and watching him work very precisely was refreshing and delightful.












Terracotta Warriors-Asian Art Museum

Two weeks ago I went to the exposition of the Terracotta Warriors in the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

General Terracotta Warrior. 

The elaborate underground palaces and formidable terracotta army of China’s First Emporor, buried for more than 2,000 years, are perhaps the most mysterious of the most staggering monuments in history built to immortality and the afterlife, like the Egyptian Pyramids and  the Tay Mahal.
Accidentally unearthed by farmers in 1974 in the province of Shaanxi in China, the burial site is a startling archeological discovery. The sprawling burial complex spans more than four American football fields, with an army of more than 7,000 life-size terracotta warriors buried throughout the site.

The warriors themselves demonstrate extraordinary

                                                                       Kneeling archer.

technology for the time. Each figure consists of multiple parts created from molds and coiling method, which artisans/potters meticulously sealed together and mounted on clay platforms. Facial features were hand-carved, and not two are identical. Their uniforms include startlingly realistic, minute details appropriate to each warrior’s rank. Graphics illustrate how vibrant and lifelike the warriors appeared in their original paint, based on scientific analysis of the preserved pigments.
Thirty nine years after the excavation began it is not yet complete. The emperor’s tomb remains un-opened , and its contents a secret.

The exhibition traces the major life events of the emperor, Qin Shihuang (259-210BCE), who

A clay warrior horse.

rose to power at age 13. After a series of bloody military campaigns, he declared himself emperor and unified rival states into a single nation, an enormous undertaking that laid the foundation for modern-day China. New roads and canals connected provinces, the Great wall built to protect the nation. A standardized currency inspired the growth of commerce. Coins minted under the First Emperor remained the shape of currency in China until 1911.  Other radical innovations enforced by the emperor like new legal codes, a uniform writing system, architectural components, established the infrastructure for the contemporary China culture.

The Emperor’s reign is a subject of controversy. He has been cast as hero and as tyrant, credited with China’s unification but also criticized for acts of brutality.



Excavated bronze life-size Swan and Crane bird.

This is a roof tile end with Phoenix design. It reflects a religious belief. Their primary ancestor was the “heavenly” bird the Phoenix. The bird represents a deity, corresponding to “yang” energy.


This is a ceremonial sword, which is one of the most important goldsmith Qin-state finds, unearthed from an aristocratic tomb. It probably belonged to a chief commander, who would ask a god for victory in war. The hilt’s design consists of stylized dragons and serpents with embedded turquoise, and its iron blade and gold hilt were cast separately. The granulated style evolved from metal-ware of nomadic people beyond the northern grasslands.

My youngest son’s wedding

My youngest son Arjan married his high school sweet heart Katie on September the 22nd.
They are very happy and were ready to take this next important step.

The newly-wed couple Katie and Arjan and the parents.

Our little family: Swanica, Maarten and Mindy, Arjan and Katie, Roland and Cameryn, Adriaan.
It was wonderful and we all had a great time!











Last week, Adriaan, our son Maarten and I went to Yosemite National Park, which is south of Lake Tahoe and about a 4 hour drive from the Bay Area, where we live. Maarten and Adriaan went up the Vernon Falls and the Neveda Falls, which took them about 5 hours. It was a great exercise for them. I stayed on the valley floor of the park. I had some shortness of breath, but of course it was the altitude and I was anemic (what I didn’t know yet).

I took an open bus tour of 2 hours and saw the big rock formations from a far. We stayed in a lovely house and then we went to the Mariposa Grove with the gigantic Sequoia’s in the south part of the park.  We had a wonderful time. The park is just very beautiful.

Then on Monday, I had my last chemo. Friday was my worst day: feeling not good at all and very weak, sleeping a lot and easily exhausted. I am anemic, so, not enough iron. My red blood cell level is very low. Those cells are less quick replenished then the white ones. My white blood cell level is good and I don’t need extra injections to keep those right. For the red ones I try to eat spinach and beans to get stronger again.

Tomorrow, I have my second appointment with the radiation oncologist and will be fitted with a mold to stay in the same position every time. So, this phase is starting.

At the end of the week, Adriaan and I will escape to Carmel (the beach, sea and galleries) for some days to celebrate the end of the chemo therapy and then he will go off to Japan and I will go to my sister in Canada for a week. Wonderful!

First mile stone

The weather is quite beautiful at the moment: the sun shines and the temperature is around 80F and at night it cools off so you can sleep very well.

The second surgery went very well and the margins are clear. So, we are very happy about that! First mile stone and the surgery chapter is closed!

This morning, they put in a cathport or mediport in my left breast to be able to easily draw blood and use it for the chemotherapy infusions without having to stick me every time. It is a weird feeling in my neck, but I am glad I have it now after this morning’s experience of 3 failed IV tries. After that they put the IV in my neck where they had to be anyway, which put me into a dozing sleep. Can you imagine during the treatment when they would have to stick me every time and the arteries harden! I know this is still a problem with a lot of people during their treatments.

I also don’t know what kind of anesthetics they gave me, but after I had a little nap this afternoon, I had to take this pill. I pick up the water can and want to pour this in the glass, and I want to take the pill out of the bottle. Somehow, I started pouring the water in the bottle filled with pills!! When I realized what I was doing, I was alert right away and ran to the sink and poured out the water and then the pills on a napkin. I was able to save them. Can you imagine! One of the side effects of chemo therapy is amnesia! And I even didn’t start that treatment yet!!!

So, now up to the next phase: chemo therapy: 4 times with 3 weeks interval (if my white blood platelets are back on the right level, otherwise you have to wait a week) and one medication for a whole year every 3 weeks! So, there we go and we will get there!

I used my new pug mill (to wedge my clay) for the first time and it went very well and I threw some plates! Loved it, but sometimes it is difficult to get into the workshop.

I also did prepare all kind of little food snacks, so, in case you want to eat something, that it is small and not right away big! I got myself some wigs. I tried some long, blond hair wigs, but I just could not get used to it. I didn’t know the person I was looking at. And it was too much money for just a joke. So, Adriaan still has to wait for his woman with long, blond hair!!! 🙂 🙂

Research and Support Groups

At the moment, I read quite a lot about breast cancer. They have quite some support groups at Stanford Hospital and also in the Bay Area. It is just wonderful to see how much support there is.

Last Wednesday, I went to the Breast Awareness group guided by the nurse of my surgeon. Of course, we all had our own stories and by sharing and listening and asking you help and learn from each other.
The next day, I went to a Chemotherapy class. I read already a lot about it, but again it is very revealing and you feel not alone. The nurse showed me the infusion center and that was quite a shock for me. You see all the people sitting in a big room with a nice open view to the outside in their own space/chair with curtain which they can close and personal tv and space for your caregiver. I was glad I saw it now and not the day of.
On Friday, I went to the Breast Cancer Connections group in Palo Alto and they had so much information and some wigs!!!! and I received a wonderful big comfort tote with all kinds of gifts made by girl scouts and a book about nutrition etc. And today, there was another group session with some great help.

Everyday I go on my bicycle to Stanford and Palo Alto first on a path through the forest and then a road through part of a forest and then I arrive at the campus. The weather is a little dark and sometimes a little rain, but it wonderful to feel the wind in your face and it gives good exercise. Today, I picked some wildflowers and listened to the wind!
But now I have to absorb everything, do some financing and go into my workshop in the garage. I have to touch the clay again before the 2nd operation! Wish me luck!