16 August 2016

sand debut official


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Today, my three years old daughter played with sand, officially, for the first time.

What do you mean? You probably think. 
Sand is a ‘must’ activity for babies and children, best to explore the different texture and feels, we all know that. All nursery and kids group offer. Family goes to the beach. Right? So why now? 

My daughter was born blind, with a rare condition called Peter’s Anomaly. (→read past post) There was no cure. Only option to give her eye sight was cornea transplant, which carried a very high risk for baby. Success rate of the operation was told less than 50 %. Many doctors, for instance in Japan I hear, won’t recommend the operation. We were lucky to have met one of the best corneal surgeons in Europe and op went successful. Yet the risk remains high as the rejection of cornea can occur anytime in her life. 

Cut it short, she was band from sand play. It was too high risk for her eye condition. Well, sand itself isn’t but if sand gets into a toddler’s eye, the first thing they would do is to rub, which would probably scar the surface of cornea and can result in infection that leads to the rejection. Doctor also said that can be risky.

Although we did not wish her to be eliminated from other children and opportunities, we did not think it was worth taking the risk at the nursery either, where the staff ratio wasn’t enough to watch her at all times whilst other children might “flick” a spade of sand anytime without intentions due to the lack of control because of their age. Even if you tell your little one “be careful” or “try not to rub”, they cannot quite do that. Certainly when she was much younger.

We might have been over protective. I once thought I was a mean mum for not letting her play in the sand. But weighing between fun exploring and risk of losing her eye, we could not stress any further, especially having considered how far we came from the start. So there was no argue about it. 

So what happened today? Well it was not a planned action, but went absolutely wonderfully. Where I work, henshaws arts & crafts centre, provides so-called urban beach during the local town summer festival. In the middle of our centre garden, once a year, we get tons of sand brought in and beach appears in the middle of Yorkshire! 
(and it looks like this!) 

Our beach has been so popular, particularly for family with children with no doubt. Today I brought my daughter for a walk in our garden, not particularly for the beach, but reluctantly asked her if she wants to try with me. There was no way she was going near the beach. I felt bad again but thought she’s probably learnt not to go near the sand by now. 

Then we came cross the small amount of sand laid near the back gate that probably was the residual from the process of making the beach. She then slowly touched the sand. Then wiggled her hand through the sand, lifted it and sprinkled it. Her face turned into a tremendous joy. “Mummy, sand! sand!” I asked if she wants to try taking her shoes off. Oh, she loved the feel. Absolutely loved it. “Mummy, do it like this!” She tells me how to play with sand. “Come and take your shoes off!” “Look, my feet!” I nearly cried. Obviously I still had to closely monitor her not to get sand near her eyes. But she did very well. She was playing in the quiet small land of sand for a good few hours. I even suggested if she wants to try the big beach with me, but her answer was still no. “Big beach for everybody, this is for Sabrina.” She was just so happy there. So we played in the tiny sand beach, just me and her with two pairs of bare feet. 

Maybe I waited too long. Maybe I was over cautious. Anyway she made a sand debut. A great one.  mx 

6 August 2016

studio day and night


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Summer is here everyone! (well, maybe not for everyone in the world.) We are enjoying lovely August sunshine, making the most of it by being out in the garden and absorbing much vitamin D! 

When Sabrina first increased one more nursery day after the holiday in Japan, she was just absolutely exhausted by Friday, used to crash before tea time and her bed time routine went pear shaped. As result of that we hardly had our night time off. Since she has got used to four days a week at the nursery, her night routine has become a little more easier these days. This means that my night time work at the studio became possible as long as my husband is available. (I have never quite trusted a baby monitor, so even it is possible to take it to the studio in the garden, I wasn’t fully comfortable leaving her in bed in the house on her own.) Thanks to my kind husband who can be watching her at home, I have been working a couple nights a week in the studio to extend my one-day-a-week pottery business. (My studio day is on Tuesday and I work elsewhere as a workshop teacher for the rest of the week.)

I must say it’s not easy. As I mentioned in the previous post (here), you will need to organise well to get the timing right. You cannot possibly do the follow up tasks from daytime in one night, so night tasks had to be stretched to a few nights, which means you need to carefully deal with drying clay. Good planning was crucial. I did make a few mistakes as a result of rushing and getting tired, but I’m learning to work around it. So far I have managed to get some good results in making, decorating and finishing pieces, so I am happy. Here are some images of work in progress and the end result. 


All photos are from my new Instagram, which I’m just having so much fun right now. Please come and have a look if you are Instagram friend! xm

31 July 2016

POTFEST in the Park


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We visited POTFEST in the Park this weekend. 

For those who might be new to POTFEST, it is one of the biggest ceramic shows gathering over 100 potters and ceramic artists from all over the UK and beyond. It is held in the park at Hutton-in-the-Forest, Penrith. You can see so many variety of ceramic work, get inspiration from, meet makers and of course can purchase some of your favourites directly from the artist. 

POTFEST in the Park has always been my favourite to visit out of many other ceramic events and we try to come every year. We had to miss last year due to my daughter’s operation, so it was very exciting visit for me. We have certainly developed our favourite makers over the years and enjoy adding little by little to our collection each year. 

The image on the top is a stand by Hilke MacIntyre who’s based in Scotland, originally from Germany. I absolutely adore her ceramic relief pieces. They are full of imaginations often come with quirky animals, creatures and human beings that she created. We are pleased that we got a little piece for our friend and a new addition to our collection as the image below. I see Hilke’s work on the wall every day and makes me feel so happy. 


We also stopped and chatted to lovely slipware potters Fitch & MacAndrew and finally met their little one Pippin! (baby in front of the photo)  I can imagine lots of us who may be seeing them on Facebook etc, cannot just resist smiling. What a happy charming couple they are and a gorgeous daughter Pippin is! It must be hard work keeping pottery alive as well as looking after such a little one, so I genuinely admire them. We have taken a beautiful honey glazed jug home and this was the first time for us to have Doug’s piece so I’m quite chuffed. Hopefully it will be one of many to come. 


I usually take more photos at POTFEST but this year it was a bit difficult to get into shooting mode with a threenager around my knees (literally!), so sorry I haven’t got many to show you here. 

There are many more wonderful potters to look for, so if you have missed this year’s POTFEST, you know what to do! m x

27 July 2016

part-timer


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Timing is crucial. 

This is something I was aware of prior to going back to the studio one day a week, but it became so real this week after throwing on a wheel. Throwing pots require turning the base afterward and sometime assembling handles or decorating slip. Mine requires all of these. If you are not familiar with pottery, let me tell you, timing is crucial. If it’s too wet, it’s not ready to do so. If it’s too hard, you’ve probably missed the chance. You just have to get the timing right. Ideally you do things like this on the day after you thrown, but I am currently a “one day a week” potter. Just need to juggle to get it right as possible. With all the other things, like cooking dinner for family, doing laundry, bathing daughter and putting in her bed, or cleaning up her sickness at bed if worse.

Luckily my husband did her bedtime routine for the last two days, so I managed to sneak out to the studio to complete turning and assembling on one night, and slip decoration on the other night. Working night shift is not really my thing, as I tend to rush and make a mistake because of tiredness. But this seems to be the only way at the moment, so I just have to juggle it.

How on earth other mummy potters are getting their work done, I wonder? They must be super women. 

Anyway, enough of moaning! (Thank you for listening.)

I guess I just carry on and give my best shot. One day I may be better at it and be like a super woman. m x

16 July 2016

Instagram


Instagram. Just started. Please have a peek if you are fancy. xm

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13 July 2016

scraffitto

Once my daughter has gone to sleep, I have a bath and do a quick chore, then off to the studio for a bit, carrying a baby monitor with me. Lucky my studio is in the garden. 

Scraffitto on slip. Oh how much have I missed this sensation! m x

11 July 2016

first firing


first firing since being back in the studio. lovely summer evening. unloading Christmas items (!) (once a week potter needs to work ahead, you see) m x

7 July 2016

good bye terrible twos, hello threenager


How time flies seems to be accelerating even more when you are with a little one. Once a-tiny-baby-used-to-be now has turned into a three-na-ger. I know it’s an old cliché to say this but where has the time gone??? Honestly!

I am beginning to notice some changes in her already, in particular her attitude and way to cope (or not to cope) with things that you may think trivial. Of course, nothing is trivial to them. Silly mum. She seems to be obsessed with certain things, for instance, she bothers about a tiny splash of water or dirt on her clothes, and wants to change them so frequently. Obviously she is bound to get dirtier soon enough, so I’d say bad words like “it’ll soon dry” or “it’ll get messy again when you play outside”. Then she goes ballistic as if it’s the end of the world, demanding to change her clothes, crying, throwing herself and stripping her trousers off anywhere etc. Well, I suppose this isn’t that bad, considering all sort of worst case scenarios that I have heard, and after all I am hoping it’s just another phase. 


Nevertheless, the goodness and loveliness of our little one are still all around, making her mum proud. Her potty training is doing really well and her sticker chart now has gone to the second sheet. She keeps wearing the medal she was given for completing a half-mile charity run she did the other day. She enjoys bubbles like the bestest gift ever. I can still eat up her cute bum and her sleeping face. These are only a few of many reasons that I can still be here with a new three-na-ger. m x

29 June 2016

starting again


Squeezing up our finance by having my daughter started an extra day at the nursery, I have recently gained my studio day once a week. Using last two of these new occasions, each of them approximately 7 hours, I have set myself back into the studio. Last post shows that I was pretty lost because of the state of it. It was that bad. Yes, I was that bad to look after it, or rather not looking after it. This week, however, I finally managed to tidy up to the level that I can actually get back into work. I still need to mend a leaking roof and remake broken moulds etc etc… on going jobs, but I’m back! 
Once a week is a very limited space of time for working with clay, but it’s better than none. The goal is the show I’ll be taking part in November. The first event in a long while. Fingers crossed for making enough items by then. m x

21 June 2016

it’s time

full of spider webs 
accumulated dust and clutters 
broken pieces 
unfinished pieces
piles of unknown boxes and unknown stuff from elsewhere
no surface can be seen on table or floor
what happened in the last three years
only been three years
yet unexpected three years
as if it was an abandon ship 
embarrassingly neglected place
place that I once dreamed of

where to start
I sigh 


c’mon get on with it
a familiar voice from sky high

it’s time to move on
m x

12 June 2016

Japan here we come 3: NUSHISA


Whilst we were in Japan, one place that I longed to visit. NUSHISA

Some may remember my blog post (→here) about children’s cutlery set. Sabrina absolutely loves these, saying “special spoons”. Indeed they are very special. Individually handmade, beautifully curved wood and softly finished with lacquer in unique colour variations. They are made by Keisei Takemata, a master of NUSHISA

NUSHISA is located in place called Yoshikawa, less than an hour train journey from my parents. It’s a small cafe where you can eat family meals with organic vegetables and fresh fish, whilst you can also enjoy his handmade tableware and furniture. As soon as we walked in the place, we could feel the warmth from the wooden furniture and surrounding. Each wooden furniture shows different faces with different characters but all look happy. Especially the chairs. So fun to choose from, my daughter alike.


Main menu changes weekly. The photo shows what we had for lunch on the day. These homemade Japanese meals are far beyond my forte. It was delicious! We certainly enjoyed it but I wish I could cook like this! 

Eating with wooden tableware gave me a fresh sensation. So light, so warm. It comforts the users. Something totally different from ceramic ware, it was an exciting experience to me. When it comes to Japanese lacquer ware, I usually imagine traditional shyu-red or black shiny ones, which has somewhat a snobbish look. Keisei’s lacquer ware, instead, gives us gentle and calm feel, and the most of all the warmth. Unlike traditional shiny lacquer ware, Keisei’s ware has the texture of wood and rustic colour variations. They have rather “down-to-earth” look, no gimmick or no snobbishness, just genuine honesty. You can tell that not just by looking, but also by touching by hands and your own mouth. (When you eat Japanese food, unlike us placing everything on a plate and using a folk and knife, we lift a bowl to eat with chopsticks, sometimes it touches our mouth directly, so each ware becomes more close to us.)


My daughter also enjoyed her meal, which originally came with that special spoon, but she picked up much large wooden spoon from the table. She certainly enjoyed it, opening her mouth so big and wide! That’s the way you do it, girl! 


We have brought two of his handmade plates home. We loved those quirky shape and lovely texture on the surface. It’s fun to think about what and how to display food on them! 

You can view more of NUSHISA (→here). Hope you enjoy it, too. m x 

7 June 2016

Japan here we come 2: celebration time


Visiting family in Japan is always special, but there was another special opportunity for us. 

Shichi-Go-San (7-5-3). 
In Japan we celebrate children’s growth and good health at the age of three and seven for girls, five for boys. Shi-Go-San is traditionally on 15th November and we often visit a shrine for blessing, but we wanted to do it during our stay as my daughter turns to three this summer. 

I guessed it would be pretty hard work for a toddler to get dressed in kimono, have her hair done, and walk to shrine all in one go, so we had two separate days to do the blessing at our local shrine and to get photo taken. Thanks to the professional photographer who has this super magic to turn a wiggly toddler into a photo-shooting mode! It was brilliant! 


Both days were lovely and we enjoyed it very much. My baby is growing fast! mx

3 June 2016

Japan here we come 1: family time


We went on holiday in Japan last month. It’s been nearly four years since we last visited and first time for our daughter. Thankfully she was fine with her first long flight. Pretty much everyday she was just full of beans. We had a wonderful time. 

We didn’t plan a lot this time, as we wanted her to get used to Japanese family. I was rather worried how she would react to people, but there was no need for that. She was happy as soon as she saw her grandparents. It was the same for my brothers family, she was giggling and smiling. Good job we’ve been doing Skype so often. The power of Skype cannot be underestimated. Especially to one of her cousins who is the same age as her, holding hands and walking around together. What a lovely sight it was! 


Weather wise it was stunning sunny early summer. We enjoyed picnics and visiting animal park. Spent our spare time at so many parks, running around, playing with slides and seesaws. Picking strawberries at her granddad’s allotment, getting excited with origami jumping frogs made by her cousin. Every moment was precious.


Mum’s food is always the best but everywhere you go you won’t fail in Japanese food. We certainly enjoyed it and Sabrina did too. She ate well, played well, slept well. It was a lovely three weeks. mx

27 May 2016

coming soon


Dear blog readers, 

Just to say hello from sunny Japan, having a great time with family. I’ll post more from holiday when we get back home, so watch this space!  m x 

22 April 2016

precious ordinary

My heart goes out to people who were effected by the recent earthquake. 


Ordinary day. 
Nothing special but everything special. 
Even with hustles and bustles.
Grateful to have today, here with my family. 
m x