by Roni Nyuko Schnadow, MRO
On June 10, 2015 we began the four-day “Being the Bowl” retreat, led by Hojin Osho and assisted by Katie Yosha Scott-Childress. After being on the waiting list last year, I signed up early and was lucky enough to get to experience clay with nine other participants who had traveled from as far as Montana, Kansas and Canada to experience this art practice retreat.
Hojin wasted no time in getting our juices flowing. That first evening after zazen, our group gathered in the Buddha Hall for our initial clay encounter (I won’t reveal the details so as not to ruin the experience for anyone doing it in the future).
The next morning we were ready to get to work and start making bowls. Sitting outside the clay studio we each found a comfortable place to work under the shade of the billowing tarp. It was a pretty magical place to work, and we all got busy pushing and forming our clay balls into various shapes and expressions of bowls. There was no room for hesitation—this was our one and only day to make the bowls so that they would be dry for firing and glazing. Table tops and tarps began to fill with bowls drying in the sun before the initial bisque firing.
Next, Hojin took us through various hands-on experiences to open us up to color, form, and texture. We “juiced” flowers and plants to provide a palette for a very fun group of drawings. Later that day we sat by the river to explore unleashing color from stones. There was excitement when someone discovered a black stone that made inky black marks, or the bright orange that dripped from a small piece of wet brick. After this work, plants, flowers and rocks seemed more lit up and began to speak in a very different way. As we walked the paths outside, things were lighting up all around us!
Primed by Hojin’s guidance, on Saturday morning we were ready to apply the glaze. Moving amongst many different containers holding various glazes and brushes, with the faint smell of wax melting in the background we began to apply the glaze.The pink bisqued bowls from the morning were quickly transformed by many different possibilities of color and texture.
The excitement peaked Saturday afternoon with the Raku firing. Each of us was able to choose four of our bowls for the Raku kiln, while the other bowls were placed in the saw dust or high fire kiln. Hojin and Yosha skillfully fired and loaded things up as the red heat was rising from the kiln’s core. As the bowls emerged from the kiln, there was smoke, hot bowls sizzling in water, and lots of excitement.
Just as the bowls came together, so did the closeness in our group. By the end of the retreat there was a feeling that we had shared something very special together with much gratitude for Hojin’s teachings and our shared experience of Being the Bowl.