which means “to open drawer and remove” originates from the 16 th century Japanese Mino wood kilns. Tea bowls were placed near the spy holes and pulled out at the height of the firing to gauge if the kiln had reached mature temperature. The rapid cooling of the ware by air or submersion in water gave a rich variety of deep black. Black ware known as Setoguro was made for only a brief time. There was a revival hikidashi-guro (“pulled out black”) in the 1920's and is currently practiced by only a few Japanese ceramic artist/potters today.

UFO Tea Bowl

Aaron Scythe
Mashiko Japan

Pulling Tea Bowl in Motegi Japan
I was introduced to hikidashi through Douglas Black of Motegi Japan. The summer of 2002 I spent five weeks at his studio creating work for a solo exhibition in nearby Mashiko. Doug had done hikidashi only twice before I arrived. He learned this firing technique from another ceramic artist, Aaron Scythe. Aaron apprenticed with Koie Ryoji and Suzuki Goro, two of the top Japanese ceramic artists that do the hikidashi firing technique. Doug, Aaron and myself felt hikidashi was an old technique that we could make new. After successful firings with Doug and Aaron, I ended up incorporating hikidashi into my Toko show and couldn't wait to continue it in New Mexico.

In the spring 2002 semester the first hikidashi tests started at UNM Valencia. The early days were humble and explorative. They were one day attempts to get the kiln hot within a couple of hours. After a few pulls at lower temps we decided to load the night before, candle and fire fast the next day. Surprising effects from the rapid firing and cool down were intriguing. With towels and duct tape to protect us from the heat it was a slow and steady beginning. As exploration intensified our gear and rhythm became safer and smoother. Now we wear donated firefighter suits welding helmets and pack the kiln full. Large metal 55 gallon drums stuffed with alfalfa and hay are the way we reduce the work.

Pulling pieces at UNM Valencia
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1st Annual
Hikidashi Fire Show

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