(above) Phil applies glaze to a chawan with a handmade brush; (below) a bowl with hakeme brushwork shows the glaze still wet (left) and then dry on a chawan (right)
Since our 2008 visit, the glazes Phil was here first playing with have become integral parts of his potting repertoire. Deliveries from his Rhayader pottery now frequently bear thick, creamy Nuka glaze on rims, necks and shoulders, or orange-blushing Shinos on his wood-fired wares.
(left) an ash glaze bottle with paddle decoration; (right) Shigaraki-style clay wood-fired bottles with Nuka necks and shoulders
Alongside these Japanese-inspired glazes, Phil has also over many years developed his own local ash glazes, using the ash collected from his own fireplace and wood sourced locally from the surrounding woodlands, and has published (amongst others) a book on ash glazing. Particularly special is his pine ash glaze which offers a deep, warm, olive-green surface that beautifully reflects the nearby rolling hills and the lush banks of the River Wye.
(above) Phil's pottery set into the hills of mid-Wales near the River Wye; (below) Phil's two-chamber wood-kiln, completed 8 years ago, being unpacked
As well as analysing clays from Japan and at home in Wales to construct new glazes and clay bodies, Phil has also built and regularly fired a two-chambered wood-fired kiln over the last 8 years. The special effects of wood firing, achieved through fly ash from the wood fuel and the natural path of the kiln's flames, have added new variations of surfaces to his pots and enabled him to fire new types of clay and glaze (including an experimental clay similar to that used in Shigaraki wares in Japan that fires to deep oranges without the need for a glaze) in addition to his oil-fired pieces.
a handsome ash-glazed bottle with beautiful pooled ridges
Phil continues to innovate with clay bodies, glazes, and forms and his work reaches beyond the stereotypical 'East meets West' aesthetic to produce pots with a real intercultural flavour. His pots are equally at home in a well-manned kitchen as they are on a shelf or windowsill and we can't wait for the arrival of our next batch.