This time last year, I was knee-deep in working on my documentary, Albion Anagama.
I learned a lot during the making of that film – about ceramics, and artistic process, and teamwork.
I also learned the value of a dedicated space to do creative work. In this instance, Ken built a fabulous studio on the outskirts of Albion, Michigan, complete with kilns and a garden and lots of space. He and his team had just about everything they needed to do work right there, from music to materials.
The idea of a dedicated work area appeals to me. In my recent house-hunting sojourns, it’s fun to see a basement workshop, or a dark room custom built for a film photographer. Even a simple office works.
At work, I find that taking my laptop and going somewhere fresh and new is a good kick in the butt to get work done. It’s not dedicated space, but it is a new space – and that helps me get some things accomplished.
It’s a documentary on the Albion Anagama, a ceramics kiln owned and operated by Ken Shenstone – the largest of its kind in the country.
Albion Anagama was my last big project for Albion College, a documentary about community connections and creativity, and how two Albion alumni (Ken and Anne Beyer) run this crazy kiln on the outskirts of town.
They fire up the anagama kiln once a year, and we covered it for the college last fall. I interviewed Ken and Anne as they were starting the kiln process, and followed them through the whole project.
The story is right up my alley: couple of artists, tucked away in the countryside, making great work with this esoteric process that goes back thousands of years. Ken’s studio is a great setting, the people were fun, and watching the magic happen was something special.
In the film, Ken and Anne talk about the process of ceramics, what it takes to get the kiln fired up, the kinds of art they hope to make, and what kind of legacy Ken hopes to leave behind. It’s a lot to cover in 30+ minutes, but we did it.
Making Albion Anagama was a lot of fun, and I can’t thank Ken and Anne enough for seeing my crazy idea through. This film was a different animal than my last venture, Bringing Back the Bohm: It features two people instead of a half dozen, and follows one project from start to finish as it happens. It’s a story on a smaller scale, but it’s still a good story.
Now it’s available for everyone to see. Please give it a watch. I’ll bet you’ll learn a thing or two, just like I did.