Rebuilding the Studio

Putting together the post and beam reconstruction of kiln house studio. Peter Bugler of Acorn Design in Pennsylvania brought me these beautiful cedar posts nearly 20 feet tall and 19 caliper inches across.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser designed a magical house, now a museum, where I used to have lunch when I lived in Vienna writing The Magic Circle. (The photos at end are the cardboard admission tickets to the museum.)

Japonisme Influences

Exposition Universelle Paris, 1867 Japan under the Shoguns was isolated from the world for over 250 years, from the early 1600s — and then emerged into the world at just the right moment. The Universal Expo of Art and Industry (Paris World’s Fair) opened on the Champ de Mars, April 1, 1867 — a date […]

Dismantling the Studio

The kiln house was fully dismantled and a new structure inspired by the old one will be built in it’s place.

Dismantling the Kiln

It took a year and a half and a team of potters to completely dismantle Teruo Hara’s kilns at the Japanese House. The potters took apart the kilns, brick by brick, and plan to rebuild them in southern Virginia. Mr. Hara had built a large gas kiln and a small wood fired kiln. And now we’ll begin to rebuild the kiln house as a studio, part […]

Japanese House Restoration Underway

The Japanese House (with Karl and workers) in early stages of rescue. There were no interior stairs; the upper floor had to be accessed by ladder! After the first wave of restoration of The Japanese House.

Original ‘Hara’ House in 1970s

These are photos from the 1970s when the Hara family lived there, with photos of the kilns and a pottery exhibition in the garden. Click to enlarge.

Journey to Chogetsu

Part II of The Monticello Connection Fay’s “other house” was quite a bit different from mine: hers was famous. I’d already read about it, in Architectural Digest. It was called Chogetsu. (Moon Tide.) Architectural Digest (May 1985) “Hewn by Hand” In the 1980s, Mr Hara had been commissioned to build a Japanese complex on seven acres […]

The Monticello Connection

One very hot June, shortly after buying the Japanese house, I was standing on the west lawn of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, waiting for us to be called into the big open tent for our annual Cabinet dinner. The 250 Cabinet members fly in or drive in from everywhere and meet once a year for a […]

Relocating the Kiln

As part of the restoration of the Japanese House, a team of professional potters is dismantling Teruo Hara’s historic, hand-built kilns, which will be reassembled at a pre-designed location for continued use. We are documenting the complete deconstruction/reconstruction process. Teruo Hara was a famous potter serving at the Corcoran School (now part of George Washington […]

The Mysterious Symbol

The Mysterious Symbol August 8, 2014 Late at night, my first winter in the Japanese house, I was sleeping on cushions on the floor when my resident herd of deer ran through the front courtyard, and set off the motion detector light at the upper entrance, flooding the interior with light. Wearily, I crawled out […]

Wind and Water (Feng Shui)

“Wind and Water” (Feng Shui) There is a system of building design that precedes Neutra’s by millennia: Feng Shui is the ancient oriental art of siting and designing buildings in keeping with key features of the natural landscape, like mountains and valleys created by “winds and waters.” I had studied it for years, including a […]

Design for Living

Escape from Structured Environment As a child, I’d always wanted to be outside climbing trees, picking persimmons or pears to eat, or buckeyes that bring luck if carried in your pocket. I hated being trapped indoors in the sterile “educational” environments created to torture young children. Some of my least favorite recollections are of being […]

Heaven & Earth

As layers and years of neglect of the Japanese House were peeled away, something interesting emerged: a vision of “the house within the house.” It was not my vision, however. I am not an expert in Japanese architecture or any other. It was the vision of what the house itself wanted to be. I had […]

Zen is When…

The sounds of Japan are evoked by temple bells, wind chimes, water over stones, wind in bamboo groves, taiko drums (first created, as myth assures us, from a Sake barrel!) – and one of my favorite combinations of all of the above: Jazz Impressions of Japan, the 1964 album of musician Dave Brubeck’s trip to […]

The Garden

When I write a piece of music I note on the score the kind of emotion I have in mind. A garden should be calm and still, but at the same time it should be a strong calm. So I say: ‘Ecstatic’. One might think you can’t combine the two – calm and ecstasy. But […]

Japonaiserie, Mon Amour

One August, decades ago, I journeyed to Japan. It was the hottest August on record, the Tokyo sidewalks were scalding, one couldn’t walk on the pavement after five o’clock in the morning; when we went to the fish market at four a.m., the fresh fish were already spoiling in the heat. Even up in Kyoto, […]