30 August 2010

meet an artist

It's Bank Holiday Monday evening here in England. Back to normal tomorrow. Hope you had a good long weekend. We have been busy doing up my studio all week, but before going into that, I would like to introduce a wonderful US photographer Katrina who I met last week.

Katrina is originally from Oregon and currently living in Italy for two year assignment work. Using this opportunity she and her family are traveling around Europe, and on this occasion they were visiting England. Katrina and I were two of over 600 participants of this e-course earlier this summer, and from that the most amazing on-line connections among the people from all over the world have began. Noticing that Katrina was coming to York, where is fairly near to the town I live, I responded to her. We’d arranged to meet up for the morning tea at a local traditional (and ‘posh’) English cafe called Bettys before they set off to London. I have never met anyone in this way before and found it quite strange. I was excited but more so nervous, worrying if I’d suggested the right thing, if she understands my English and simply because I am shy! Katrina was very friendly and sweet, so were her family, which made me feel more relaxed. Thanks to her warm smile, I had such a lovely time.

Interestingly having shared the similar situations, Katrina; American living in Italy and me; Japanese now living in England, we talked lots about cultural influences, experiences, language and thoughts. Talking about the outcome of the course, I felt I am still on the process of finding myself through this creative journey as my blog itself is meant to be. Katrina uses just the right words, ‘finding yourself through art’. Absolutely! As a photography lover myself, it was also nice listening to Katrina’s passion towards photography and creativity, which inspired and encouraged me gently but surely. In her website, Katrina explains her philosophy of the photography that her eyes are the important element, not the equipment, which I totally agree with. Her photography is stunning and I love how Katrina captures the images. I’m certain that she took so many beautiful images during the visit and can’t wait to see her blog post. She also writes beautifully and often kindly shares her tips too! Visit her website here, it’s a pure breath-taking.

Thank you for meeting me, Katrina. Happy creating! xm

25 August 2010

treasure hunting

treasure or trash?

Do you like car boots sale? Do you often pop into your local charity shops? Do you become curious when you walk pass a skip? Well, I am! If you are too, you may find this exciting.

Currently building my studio-to-be is located next to our garage. We are thinking of connecting the back of the garage to the studio to access as a storage space. So we had a bit of clearing around that area. The garage is full of stuff that had left from the previous owner’s husband, who had lived here for a long long time. He must have collected almost anything from woods and metals to old tools and gadgets. You name it. So to my husband, who is much of DIY lover and doesn’t like throwing things away, it is a great space to look into. I love hunting stuff too from somewhere looks like rubbish to someone’s eyes. You can imagine, how we get slowed down our main tasks of building the studio, once started to dig out the back of garage... Oh well, but it was FUN! I got carried away and found a box full of fascinating stuff as you can see...

This metal box itself looks ACE to me. Thinking about what to do with it is just exciting.

Old copper tapes are a good use for garden. So are these cotton strings with two metal pegs. Love the weather effected blue.
Wooden measurement tools. One is foldable and one with split level.
Old linseed oil bottle. (on the right) It was so dirty and took me ages to clean. Now it has joined my collections of old bottles on the shelf.
Old tools are fab to just display on a white wall, which I will be painting my studio with. Metal sands are still usable for ceramics.
A traditional English trifle dish in lead crystal. It may look a bit granny-ish but I love the pretty patterns. I am thinking of placing my jewellery in it.
Old small tins and a miniature car. Simply Gorgeous.
Smash! I have never actually used them but some of you may remember one in a tin like this. (and 7p off!) Shall I plant herbs or make holes to use as a candle holder?
A blue and white patterned mug. No maker name on it so probably just a cheap buy nothing special, but kind of nostalgic which I like about.
I was so pleased with my findings and bringing them back to a new home. Hindsight is that I was far behind from the planned job. Tomorrow I will ban myself from the garage.
What can you find in your garage?
(I guess yours are tidy and organised unlike ours... oops.) xm

23 August 2010

small is good?

We have been building my pottery studio-to-be from an old garden shed, as posted in the past. (you can see the posts by topics under: studio) Today was a good one step forward. Finally got water connected to the studio! Hurray!
It was a long way to come. Two years ago, we dug 1m deep ground between the house and the shed to place a large pipe, which was for an electric and water line. That was hard enough work but more so to get things connected through the house. Which means, lots of going-under-the-floor job. I am petite, just below 5 foot. My husband is 6’1” tall. Ultimately I am the one that always goes under the floor. Here I was, down with a head torch...
(i just had to laugh at myself!)
Still lots to do, but this was a kind of main job, so pretty pleased. We ordered the main windows also, which hopefully arrives on Friday. More story to follow... xm

21 August 2010

before the chaos...

Hello weekend. Can’t believe it’s nearly the end of August! We are in a week off now to catch up with the things before the chaos of September arrives. Mainly planning to do more studio building and work for coming craft fair. I’ll post the progress of studio building here hopefully. For now, here is a quick view of work in progress. Vases of my HANETSUBO (winged pot) series, waiting to go in to a kiln. Will be firing and do some glaze test next week. xm

19 August 2010

sweet lily

gorgeous painting by Lily Greenwood

This is another inspirational artist for you. A few weeks ago I went to Manchester Craft & Design Centre. Should I call it a sort of collaborated artists space? The space where many creative artists use as their studio and shop. Instead of being by oneself but with many of them, it seems to be more attractive to both visitors and artists.

When I first visited MCDC in March, I thoroughly enjoyed its atmosphere. I found quite a few artists that interested me, in particular I fell in love with work by Lily Greenwood. She paints with a collage of natural features and creatures, which many of them are butterflies. Some of her work reminds me of Japanese paintings, in fact she said she was influenced by kimono patterns. Lily is so sweet just like her name and kindly explained to me some techniques she uses. I bought a pretty print and framed it for the “wings-themed” wall, which I am currently working on.

This time on my second visit, I found this beautiful small canvas with white hydrangea. (as you can see the image above) White hydrangea is a kind of memorable flower for us as we used for our wedding. I love the background colour and of course butterflies. I could not resist to purchase an original so took it to sweet home.

If you have a chance to go to Manchester, do recommend to visit this place. For more Lily’s work and information, please visit her website. I can assure your heart will fly!

16 August 2010

home sweet home

having a quiet night

just drinking a cup of chai as usual

in gentle candle lights

nothing special

just listening to the favourite music

in a smell of frankincense

his smile arrives on the door

there is no other place like a home

14 August 2010

smile maker of the week

illustration by Veronika Horrocks

Today, I would like to share with you a great surprise that I had this week. The UK based artist Veronika’s illustration has arrived to my home. Yey!

This is one of the great things by blogging. To engage to people. Only a year ago that I somehow started to see “blog” on my computer, you can tell how trendy I was (NOT!). Then after having some time of learning I got mine started in this June 2010, without knowing what’s really going on. Then interestingly the link to these people in the world began to develop. Veronika is the one of them. Luckily I found her this summer and I started to view her illustrations regularly.

Like I mentioned before (in this post), I deeply admire the people who can paint or draw. Because I simply cannot. Their skills and imagination are such respect. Veronika presents her illustrations and messages in her blog almost daily, which I take my hat off for her energy. Then when I found this particular illustration and message, my heart clicked. Yes, I am a bit of camera geek I must admit. But it spoke to me. Yes, I do need to look into further to find what I really see. It was interesting. On the return to my comment, you know what? She offered me a gift of this drawing! How lovely! So I was so chuffed when it finally got to my home. I immediately dug out my old camera and positioned it next to her illustration. Ahhh. Now I am thinking how to frame this illustration and where to put... such an exciting feeling and I LOVE it!

I felt terribly selfish just to have it for free, so we've agreed to have an exchange. I sent my ceramic piece to her this week. I was nervous actually if she does not like that or thinks too simple or whatever. But I am hoping she would connect to me somehow, like I did to her. If she does like it, that would be a bonus.

Do have a look at her website here, there are more illustrations you can view.

Have a lovely weekend everyone! xm

10 August 2010

wing matters

I am currently working on FLARE craft fair that will be held in November. It’s a crazy thought (well, was to me at least) whilst I’m on the course and day jobs and studio-less-situation. It was a pushing-to-my-aim-otherwise-never-happen sort of decision but I must tell you this, I am deeply in a panic mode. It’s counting down to 13 week left but I am not doing well as planned. It is hard enough to work under the gazebo and to carry green-stuff to a kiln located to miles away. Working on time?? Don’t ask...

Some of you might have noticed that I have a thing with “wings”- simply love them. I have been making some ceramics with wings and selfishly named them HANETSUBO (winged pots). Recently one of the HANETSUBO wing got broken, so re-considered the shape and how to attach to the body. Drawing (ok “doodling” rather) doesn’t come quite the same as working on clay. I was trying different shapes and methods but could not decide which way to go until the final glazing. Then got this problem with the glaze firing. Due to the situation, it cannot be done until next semester starts. In the meantime, I just look at those half-finished pots hopelessly... But you know what? I may just try several types of wings anyway so that people may choose what is the best. I may just keep making them without worrying too much. At the end of the day this was supposed to be the first “have-a-go” event. So far I have tried yunomi (Japanese tea cup), goblet, jug, vase, trinket box, brooch and candle holder. I will continue to work on those. I have got other ideas apart from wings and am working on it. Hopefully I can show you here in near future.. For now here are some images from my sketchbook.

If you are good at time-management and dealing with a panic situation, please share your tips! xm

wing matters!

7 August 2010

inspirational weekend-out 3/3: not dainty but chunky

beautiful painting "A family" by Shirley Hudson

The final post of this week that I would like to share is Shirley Hudson. She is a painter and sculptor from York. I visited her exhibition called “not dainty but chunky” (love the title!) that showcased her six portrait paintings and other six by her partner.
As soon as I went into the room, the colours flooded into my eyes. I loved the dynamics of her colour combinations. To me this is something I found difficult to imagine, such as on people’s faces. Some are much rougher brush strokes I could see than others. Whichever the way she paints, they were filled with warmth and a sense of honesty.

Her partner, Tom Handley, actually is a forester. He says, “I’m not trained to paint. I’m only filling the space” in a reserved manner. He captured the ordinary people who he saw in his recent visit to Ireland and in the local sawmills and woods he visits as part of his working day, yet by him painting they became genuine arts. I love the way he composed them.

"Men sawing wood" by Tom Handley

People who can paint - I simply admire. Because I simply cannot paint. I do drawings now and again but should rather call them “doodling”. Ok, I cannot draw or paint. When I come across their skills and imagination, I just take my hat off. A total respect. Therefore I was pleased to see her paintings for the first time, despite the fact I have known her for some years now. Shirley told me that she hasn’t done this for years and wanted to start again. For her this exhibition might have become a sort of awakening point.

The exhibition room was a cemetery chapel, which I first thought was quite unusual space to present, but how the work were put was rather interesting. They used the wooden boards to display the paintings instead of hanging on the wall. (and much lower, which I much appreciate because of my height!) With the airy space toward the ceiling of the chapel, this painting exhibition was very soothing to my soul. (We had a warm welcome and homemade cake too which was lovely!)

Shirley is currently working on a series of commissioned portraits. If you would like to discuss a portrait commission contact her via email: shirley-hudson@zen.co.uk or call 07787 176 242. Also to contact Tom via email: tom-handley@zen.co.uk

this was my favourite!
"A bearded ne'er-do-well" by Shirley Hudson

4 August 2010

inspirational weekend-out 2/3: POTLOVE

How’s your week so far? It’s been quite busy over here, as I have been doing extra summer scheme. In between I’ve managed to do my own work at home under the gazebo as you know... but for now, as I mentioned in the previous post, I would like to share another artist information from the visit on last weekend. Today is Adam Frew, one of the leading young ceramicists in the UK. I visited his exhibition at Red Barn, in Cumbria. He does beautiful porcelain in a dynamic manner with funky decorations. I have fallen in love with this square bowl with lots of pots decoration. So much of what I love. Check out his website. He is a good looking man too, as a bonus.


1 August 2010

inspirational weekend-out 1/3: POTFEST

How was your weekend? We had a very busy weekend, visiting three art events. They were all inspirational and I thoroughly enjoyed. As I am still recovering from the excitement and a long drive, (yes, age...) I would like to share the information here by dividing them into three posts from today.

Starting from POTFEST in the Park. This is another annual ceramic festival I like visiting as nearer to where I live (still three hour drive though). It’s held in Cumbria, you know where it’s famous with the Lake district, at the place called Hutton-in-the-Forest. It was great as usual, so much joy to see many ceramic artists from all over the country, including Germany, France, Japan and USA. There were some artists who I’ve already mentioned before in this post, such as Chiu-I Wu, Virginia Graham, Christy Keeney and Craig Underhill. You never get board of seeing their work. As great as always. Although some of the artists who I expected to see weren’t there this year, I managed to speak to many artists, including those who I have never seen before. It is truly exciting talking to artists and getting their insight. Here I would like to share those who inspired me.

She is the local to this event. Makes beautiful porcelain pieces combined with her charming drawings and pressed images. I have her cup and jug at home (you can see them in here), since I was completely drawn into at last year’s show. This year, she seemed to expand more colours and matt texture. I loved every pieces but especially I could not take my eyes off this one. This hand-shaped daisy patterned mug was so tiny that can pop on to a baby’s palm!

German ceramicist. She does wood fire domestic pieces, beautiful thrown and altered the shape. Unlike normal wood-fired work, she adds quirky lines and doodling using ceramic crayons. I love the sense of playfulness within her quality and simplicity.
As you can see the first photo, his work are so adorable. Alongside his skillful thrown earthenware pieces, he also makes themed sculpture. Often appears with comical human, birds, sheep and mermaid! Such a joy to see.

Ireland born Scotland based ceramicist. She was surprised with me showing the interest in her work, saying “Not many Japanese people stops for my work.” I presume they tend to prefer simpler or traditional form than rather spontaneous, colourful, playful piece of work like hers. To me that was what caught my eyes. I love how she transformed the slab of clay into such a free forms with colours, patterns, drawings and transfers. Almost like making a collage on clay.

Another German maker I love. His beautiful thrown & salt-glazed ware are great to have at home. I bought a teapot last year that I had fallen in love with the cute body shape and the base. (You can see in here) He makes lovely bottles too and sell with tasty fruits schnapps made by his neighbour! This year, I got this simple yet stunning large dish. I am thinking of using as a fruits bowl.

Ireland based artist who once featured as a “samurai potter” in a magazine. He had some years spent in Japanese traditional pottery regions and was very excited to tell me about the experience. Although I could see a hint of Japanese pottery in what he makes, it shows his own spontaneous, energetic and dynamic style which was oppose to the tradition. I bought these two sake cups, which base were hand-turned. He asked, do you think they are too big for sake? I said, well probably but probably not for a big drinker. A handsome smile appeared under his beard. I personally don’t drink sake but certainly will enjoy some other favourite in this cup, like lemonchello, sho-chu and peach schnapps in a Bang bottle... mmm

Finally, a showcase of the day, “Homage to the Shrine of the Flight” by Christine Hester Smith. POTFEST has a themed competition among the exhibited potters each year. This years theme was “shrines, Alters & Markers”. This piece was awarded by both visitors and makers. Look at those penguins going toward the foot of bird shaped shrine gate.

Just so awww......