The Magic Kiln by Petty John in Calamba
Magic Kiln by Petty John

The Magic Kiln by Petty John in Calamba

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The Magic Kiln by Petty John in Calamba


We can find early Philippine painting in red slip (clay mixed with water) designs embellished on the ritual pottery of the Philippines like the acclaimed Manunggul Jar. proof of Philippine pottery-making dated as early as 6000 before Christ. Jars found in Sanga-Sanga Cave, Sulu and Cagayan’s Laurente Cave. they have verified it that by 5000 before Christ, the making of pottery was practiced throughout the land

Manunggul Jar - Magic Kiln by Petty John in Calamba
Manunggul Jar


As technology advances, it looks as if crafts like pottery would become one of the primary vulnerable arts. Why pay additional for hand-loomed, once a machine will just pretty much as good a job out of it? However, the time for pottery is much from over. In an interview with the inquirer, potter John Pettyjohn remembers when they had as few as six potters within the country back in the Seventies. Over the years, he has witnessed the expansion of a tight-knit community of thirty potters today.

Modern Pottery - Magic Kiln by Petty John in Calamba
Modern Pottery

Each potter has their own story to tell behind their craft. Often, it starts from the rediscovered joy of making by hand that keeps them coming to the potter’s wheel. No wonder then that the correct handcrafted piece does more than plate food or set the mood. We’ve even determined it to influence one’s appetite, turning otherwise simple meals into one thing special. And here’s where you’ll realize these items to see for yourself, order, or perhaps make, to create that experience.


An artist who works with the elements of fire and clay, making pots is his passion. His work in traditional practical pottery is in one-of-a-kind, or limited editions.

One of a kind art - Magic Kiln by Petty John in Calamba
One of a kind art by Petty John in Calamba

Petty John and wife Tessy are working for over thirty-five years, concentrating on the traditional Asian techniques of high fire stoneware and porcelain, with the utilization of many Philippine indigenous raw materials, such as volcanic ash and native clays. He has spent a few years in the Philippines experimenting with, learning about and sometimes teaching pottery.

John Lorenzo Pettyjohn and wife Tessy belong to a rising generation of artist-potters who are reviving the traditional ways of pottery making, fusing them with modern styles of Asian and Western ceramics using indigenous materials like volcanic ash and native clays. From a functional gas-fired stoneware and porcelain, the Pettyjohn are experimenting with wood-and-salt firing.

Most of his distinctive one of a kind pottery and other wares are available at Level three, Glorietta IV, Makati town. every jar sold out on is individually handmade and signed by mr. Pettyjohn.


Jon Pettyjohn is of Filipino-American descent. He has spent a few years within the Philippines experimenting with, learning about, and sometimes teaching pottery. He learned his craft in Barcelona, Spain, where he started an apprentice at a little studio.

Whoever would have thought John Pettyjohn once peddled his pottery at exhibits from his own suitcase? Over thirty years later, he and his wife, Tessy, are the pioneers of contemporary Philippine pottery who do more than produce functional pieces for our homes. They have spearheaded the Putik Association for Potters in 2003. They teach pottery from their home and workshop in laguna, all while pushing more of their medium to create fashionable art.

Putik Association for Potters - Magic Kiln by Petty John in Calamba
Putik Association for Potters

Mr. Petty John has had several one-person shows and took part in trade fairs like Manila International F.A.M. E, likewise taking part in exhibits and workshops in Japan, Korea, Spain, Taiwan and USA. He is also the President and the founding member of The Putik Association of Philippine Potters.


John with the help of potters from Japan, spent six weeks in his workshop in Pansol, Laguna, building an oven. It’s no standard kiln; it’s anagama. Anagama is the Japanese name for an ancient hot temperature wood-burning chamber. These kilns originated in China and Korea as far back as 1,500 years past and made the first stoneware and porcelain pottery.

Anagama - Magic Kiln by Petty John in Calamba

The Japanese potters who came in March to create the oven are Shozo Michikawa, an internationally renowned clay artist, Yuji Fujiwara, an award-winning clay sculptor and potter, Kouji Kondo, another well-known potter, and Ganji Ishida, a skilled in oven construction. They worked with Jon and his wife Tessy, Adee Mondoza, a young potter who studied in the USA, Sammy Kilat, long-time assistant potter of the Pettyjohns, and a dozen of Jon’s students. 

Modern glazes, that contain a multitude of chemicals, are not needed after you fire pottery in an anagama. The burning wood produces an ash that melts and forms its own glaze on the pottery. 

The kiln, baptized Musang Gama, is named after a family of civets that live close at the hill of Mount Makiling. Musang Gama has 2 chambers, each about the scale of a 10-cu. ft. refrigerator and can hold two hundred pots. To date, they have fired it seven times using largely aguho wood, though the Pettyjohn have experimented with coconut wood and coconut shells. 

Musang - Magic Kiln by Petty John in Calamba

The whole method–shaping the pots by hand, gathering and drying wood, loading pots in the oven, bricking up the oven, firing and stoking, cooling down and unloading the pots–isn’t only labor intensive, it takes a full month. During the firing itself, that lasts between 2 to seven days, groups of 4 folks work on six-hour shifts, with 2 folks tending to the stoking, and 2 additional keeping lots of wood stacked getting ready to the oven for the stokers.

To check the temperature, they use a thermometer to maintain a continuing 2400° F within the oven. Once firing ends, the oven is closed and left to cool down for 2 or 3 days. Then the oven is unbricked and the unloading of pottery begins. 

Jon shares his thoughts on wood-fired ceramic ware. “Firing can manufacture unusual results which may either transform pottery into priceless art or a giant mistake. This is often not by chance. They have brought this about by the laws of nature. This is a part of the joy and fulfillment of firing pottery in an anagama,” he says.

Priceless Pottery - Magic Kiln by Petty John in Calamba
Priceless Pottery

He clarifies: “What’s more necessary is that the cooperation of individuals from all walks of life who bring with them the temperament to share their expertise, knowledge and creativeness. A wood-fired oven isn’t a one-man operation. It needs the cooperation of the many folks operating in shifts. Rely on and trust your co-workers throughout the whole firing. Unity is very important.” 

The fascination with wood-fired pottery may come from its simplicity. It’s clay formed by hands. Add the magic of the wood fire and they turn the clay to stone. However, the nature of that stone, its surface and color, is affected by the fire which either transforms or warps it. A mug that is a wood-fired, isn’t “just a mug.” it’s earth, wind and fire. It’s magic.


At thirty-seven Purok five Bucal, Calamba town, Laguna, this pottery factory is unique in laguna, Southern Luzon. its inventive styles and award-winning potteries earned its distinction worldwide as being innovative and fashionable style. This is where Jon Petty lives and works alongside along with his wife Tessy.

His two-story house had an interesting gallery where his distinctive works of art are displayed and sold-out. Some items are his personal collection. Wide verandas and window characterised his home that is adapted to the tropical weather. High ceilings enable air circulation to come back within his home.

Calamba House - Magic Kiln by Petty John in Calamba
Calamba House

Their workshop had in an interesting garden with a great deal of native orchids, begonias, ferns, ginger plants and enormous trees.

Petty Johns expressed that they can not receive walk-in guests at their home. They need to create appointments prior hand. He’s cautious of designers who copy his styles and so mass made them at a cheaper price.

Additional Reading:

  • Renz 15: Award-winning potteries earned its distinction worldwide as being innovative and modern design
  • Margaux Licious: Fine Dining on Fine Pettyjohn Pottery
  • Murphy Report: Theirs is a love story that can topple over any other romantic film
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