Anagama Summary

Kamaka Pottery
PHONE (06) 879-9555


These pots were made by either Estelle or Bruce Martin and are unique in New Zealand.  They are fired in a large, modern day anagama kiln in the traditional manner of ancient times.

Anagama is a Japanese word, ‘ana’ meaning hole or cave and ‘gama’ meaning kiln.  The original anagama were built directly into clay hill sides as an upward sloping tunnel.  First developed in Korea about the 4th century A.D. they were used in Japan from about the 6th through to the 14th century.  Traditionally fired with pine wood for an extended time (8-16 days) to produce a very high temperature.  The resulting pots were marvellously coloured by the flame, ash from the wood, and the smoke from this long firing.  Many fine examples from the 12th-16th century still exist in Japanese museums and collections despite having been through long burial in the ground – a testimony to the strength and durability of anagama pottery.

After seeing the pots from a modern day Japanese anagama at Sanyo Fujii’s pottery in 1978 we resolved to build such a kiln in New Zealand.  Our attraction to anagama pots was immense so that all obstacles were overcome to build one.  The Kamaka anagama is approximately 500 cubic feet and is fired only once each year for nine to ten days.  We use approximately 25 tonnes of split pine wood during this time with two teams of stokers working 12 hour shifts.  The fire is re-stoked every 5-7 minutes on average and each time another bundle of wood is put into the kiln it disturbs the ash which is carried through the large single chamber by the natural draft to be deposited time after time onto the pots.  In this way the pots that were put into the kiln ‘raw’ or unglazed develop their colour and glaze-like coatings.

Following our first firing of the Kamaka anagama we returned to Japan in 1982.  During 1983 Mr Sanyo Fujii, a master Japanese potter, stayed with us for seven months and participated in our second firing.  The pots made for the 1983 firing were based on the traditional Japanese utensils used in the tea ceremony.  A selection of these pieces were shown at a joint exhibition with Mr Fujii at the Mitsukoshi Gallery of Fine Art in Osaka in 1984.

Since 1984 we have continued to explore traditional forms and to develop our interest in ikebana containers.  The natural colours of anagama pottery blend with and enhance the colours of nature in a way that cannot be achieved with any other type of firing.  Kamaka anagama pottery is available from our workshop gallery and from some of the major NZ Craft Shows.

1986 Merit Award Bruce Martin – Fletcher Brownbuilt

1987 Merit Award Bruce Martin – Fletcher Brownbuilt

1988 Merit Award Estelle Martin – Norsewear Art Award

1990 Merit Award Estelle Martin – Norsewear Art Award

1990 Principal Award Bruce Martin – United Group/Suter Art Awards

Est 1983



The power of flame acting directly with the clay – the wood fuel showering ash and burnishing the surfaces with colour.  Time and endless falls of ash (around 2,000) enrich the surfaces so the pottery comes from the kiln alive with colour.  The great heat has vitrified the clay into permanency.  This traditional kiln was used firstly in Korea about the fourth century.  Korean potters built anagamas in Japan and the style of pottery was further developed by longer and hotter firings.

Through our association with master potter Sanyo Fujii we have retained our interest in traditional pots – using Iga, Shigaraki and Bizen wares as a base.  The pots fired in Japanese kilns are used for the Tea Ceremony – the fresh water jars, incense boxes, flower containers and platters for serving food.

A great deal of vitality and energy is needed and expended to make the pots for and to fire such a large kiln.  Our enthusiasm still remains for these pots but age is now the factor which has made us decide that we can no longer safely take [care] of the long firings of between 8 and 10 days duration.

The nine years that we fired our anagama have been rich in experience.  For New Zealanders, it has taken some time for an appreciation of the surfaces and the rougher textures to be accepted.  We have found that after a number of viewings, many become appreciative and become as enthusiastic as we are.  It does take some time to ‘see’ and it is a challenge to Western style with the smooth surfaces and decoration.

From the 1000 or so pots in each firing there is a huge variety of surfaces and colour.  Depending on the iron content of the clay or the placement in the kiln, an individual response is achieved on each pot.  Those around the fire grate are coated with wood coals and lashings of ash.  The first two stacks also receive generous coatings of ash.  Under the side stoking ports another effect is produced.  And high iron bearing clays respond to the flame and smoke at the rear of the kiln.


1   Bruce   Fresh Water Jar Mizusashi “Summer Willow”   $600
2   Bruce   Kogo “Pillar Stone”   $250
3   Estelle   Jar Busy at work   $175
4   Estelle   Bamboo “Nothing grows here”   $500
5   Bruce   Platter on Trivet “The fading Light of the Setting Sun”   $850
6   Estelle   Mizusashi “Old Fire Grate”   $700
7   Bruce Shigaraki Tsubo “Behind the Reed Fence”   $1200
8   Estelle   Cylinder “Lasting Passion”   $500
9   Estelle   Platter “Rose”   $175
10   Bruce   Kogo “Corner Stone”   $120
11   Estelle   Bottle “Feather Cloak”   $250
12   Bruce   Kakahana “Sweet Moment”   $90

14 Woodward Street Wellington New Zealand Telephone 0-4-473 8803

13   Estelle   Kakahana “Maybe”   $90
14  Bruce   Tsubo “One Hundred Thoughts”   $1500
15  Estelle   Hanaire “Guardian”   $400
16  Bruce   Cylinder “Okarito”   $600
17   Bruce   Platter “Kowhai”   $300
18   Bruce   Box “Soaked Earth”   $800
19   Estelle    Ring Bottle   $300
20   Bruce   Boat “Tranquillity”   $480
21   Estelle   Twig Pot “Pod”   $500
22   Estelle   Vase “Against the Wind”  $400
23   Estelle   Vase “Robe of Feathers”   $500
24   Bruce   Bottle “Mountain Rain”   $700
25   Bruce    Hexagonal Jar   $750
26   Bruce   Fluted Dish “Autumn Serving”   $175
27   Estelle   Dish “Flower”   $275
28   Bruce   Bottle “Through the Silver Smoke”   $500
29   Estelle   Mizusashi “As If in Dreams”   $650
30   Bruce   Bowl “Float Bowl”   $120
31   Bruce   Kogo “Houseboat”   $90
32   Bruce    Jar   $500
33   Estelle    Vase “To Catch an Arrow”   $400
34   Estelle    Vase   $150
35   Bruce   Plough “The earth’s Turn”   $560
36   Estelle   Bowl “Bell”   $275
37   Estelle   Vase “Spring Shower”   $500
38   Estelle    Teardrop Vase   $275
39   Bruce   Boat “From Ancient Times”   $560
40   Bruce   Tsubo “Shimmer of Light”   $500
41   Estelle   Tsubo   $350
42   Bruce    Boat Ikebana   $250
43   Estelle   Hanaire “Autumn Fires”   $300
44   Estelle    Vase “Night Shades”   $600
45   Bruce   Hanaire “Silken Finery”   $400
46   Estelle   Hanaire “Beneath the Pine”   $400
47   Bruce   Tsubo “Sundown”   $500
48   Estelle    A B C D E Single Flower Containers   each   $35
49   Bruce   Bottle “One Holey Bottle”   $280
50   Bruce   Mizusashi “Beyond Knowledge”   $650
51   Estelle    Bottle   $400
52   Bruce    A B C D E Single Flower Containers   each   $35
53   Estelle   Hanaire “We found a Feather”   $400
54   Estelle   Hanaire “Against the Tide”   $400
55   Estelle    Bottle “Rivers End”   $180
56   Estelle   Tsubo “Forest”   $1200
57   Bruce    Platter Serving Dish   $300
58   Bruce   Cylinder “To the Sun’s Path”   $450
59   Estelle    Ikebana   $275
60   Bruce   Kakahana “Old Man Dreaming”   $120

The Potters Shop and Gallery would like to acknowledge the Venture Grant given by the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council.

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