Joy Imai: Lifelong potter focuses on soda pottery at her Allied Arts Guild studio
For the past 25 years, visitors to the Allied Arts Guild have been treated to the pottery of Joy Imai. But, as she recounts, the kind of pottery has varied.
“I’ve done four different types,” she explained to visitors at her combination studio/gallery. “But since 2002, my focus has been on soda pottery.”
Working with her hands has been important to Joy ever since she was growing up in Hawaii: “My mom, my aunties, and all my cousins, they all made things. You can say I was brought up with the notion of making things.”
In addition to non-soda pottery, she’s done Raku pottery, a type of Japanese pottery that is characterized by hand-molded rather than turned clay, and Mailoica, Italian-style, tin-glazed pottery decorated with bright colors on a white background.
“Because I haven’t done the same body of work since I began, I do have people who are interested in my pieces from different periods,” she said.
When we visited, Joy was working on bamboo holders and said she enjoys all aspects of making pottery: “I like using my hands and working the wheel. Most of the times I’m wearing some of what I’m making. I even like working with fire, although I’m not always comfortable with it because I’m firing at white heat.”
Much of Joy’s work is square rather than round. “Mostly what I’ve been doing is altering,” she said. “Everything on the wheel is round and I’ve been squaring. Maybe 2012 is when I go back to round. It’s been almost a decade that I’ve been squaring and faceting, and I kind of miss round things.”
Joy’s studio is located toward the rear of the Allied Arts Guild near the Wood Barn.
Photos by Scott R. Kline