Kozy Kitchens - Kintsugi Kozy

Kozy Kitchens is a ceramist/illustrator based in Yamanashi, Japan. She is one half of art duo kozyndan. She moved back to her home prefecture from Los Angeles to start a homestead and artist retreat. Her ceramic creatures, Bunny Primitives, are fired in wood-fired kilns in the mountains of the Japanese countryside. Kozy was influenced by ancient Jomon pottery that is found in the area of Japan she resides in.

Making with clay is a purely joyful experience for her. Her hand built ceramic sculptures and functional objects are playful, often humorous, and influenced by a deep appreciation of animals and the natural world.

Artist statement:

I started playing with ceramics as a hobby in 2012 because I was getting burned out from painting and drawing. The kozyndan style is pretty controlled and highly detailed; our Panoramic style requires a lot of composition and character design planning. Playing with clay expresses a more childish and illogical side of my creativity. I work more intuitively with clay and glazes. I feel like I use the left side of brain while I work on kozyndan art, and I use the right side of my brain while I work on my ceramics.

Eventually I came back to Japan and discovered the joy of wood firing ceramics. The wood firing ceramics kilns near where we live were built by three guys in the forest about 30-40 years ago. They are in their 70s, so they are thinking of retiring soon. They were talking to me about demolishing everything they built. I really wanted to save the place because it’s so magical!

Coincidentally, art book publishing company Gasbook moved into the old Velbon tripod factory near us. They opened their space as an art gallery and artist residency, calling massive art complex ”Gasbon." The wood firing kiln owners knew an old ceramicist lady who wanted to get rid of her kerosene kiln and glazes, and they told me about her. I adopted her kiln and moved it to the art complex to build a ceramic studio with Gasbon. I found another gas kiln and old dried up clay, and Gasbon adopted it. The ceramic artist who is currently staying at the residency fixed these kilns and she found an electric kiln. The wood firing kilns are going to be passed down to the artists at Gasbon.

The owners of the wood firing kilns have started to teach us how to make firewood. They go to the mountain to chop red pine with chainsaws, transport the logs to the kilns on their trucks. And they use their firewood making machines and an axe to make firewood. They stack the firewood to cure for up to one year. Dan and I, and artists from Gasbon, go there every Tuesday from 9-5 to make firewood. We probably have to go 5-6 more weeks to finish making firewood from all logs they prepared. It’s a lot of physical labor! They will teach us how to fire and fix wood firing kilns this fall. The wood firing kilns are so labor and time intensive. It’s so different from an electric kiln which you can fire ceramics with the push of a few buttons. We hope to have working kerosene, gas, electric kilns as well as traditional wood firing kilns for artists who want to explore different options. We also hope to pass down the tradition of wood firing ceramics kiln techniques to future generations of ceramicists.