When I was growing up, one of the weekend activities we did as a family was visiting the home of Mirek Smíšek in Te Horo.
Mirek’s property was, for a young boy, a cornucopia of delights. There were the massive beehive-shaped kilns. Mature trees to climb. One of the outbuildings had a pedal organ. And of course the pottery.
My parents collected the pottery when they could afford it, and I often thought about having a piece of my own.
On one visit there was a small castle on display in the shop. Mirek told me that it was an experiment for the complete chess set that was also on display. I was a massive chess nut at the time, but the full set was way beyond what I could afford from my pocket money, but the castle was not. I think it was either $3 or $2.
I recently found it packed away in our garage, and here it is.
Mirek said that he would grind up glass and put it into the top of the castle before firing it, and that the cracks appear inside the glass as it cools down.
My sister got a knight – also a test – that looked like a horse, but he said it was a lot of work and I think adopted a simpler design for the set.
My castle now had pride of place on my bedside table.