30 June 2010

Life is not that smooth. So when working hard, stop, breath and celebrate.

pretty patterns on a grass carpet created by light and shadow

We took a week off, not for a holiday but to concentrate on building my studio-to-be. It’s been ultra busy so far, spending all day out in the garden (the studio was originally a garden shed) under the sun. The thing is once you start something, you find another thing to be done and keep going off the track.. but I know it’s moving forward slowly but surely. It is in a way frustrating process, not being able to see WHEN I am actually in the studio. Wanted to get it done by this September ready for the next term, but it seems not possible. This is unfortunately the fact as we (husband and I) are doing all by ourselves when we could find the time off from work. And of course the cost matters too. So far, we did the floor and roof last year, which is now need re-felting. Sorted the gutter and entrance area. I am doing the ceiling at the moment, keeping air space and layering insulations. Then we found tons of other jobs to pick up in between... like the part of decking to be sorted out, garden allotment, oh let’s wash blinds while it’s sunny, sorting meal for my stepdaughter’s graduation, helping out the neighbor’s garden before his 80th birthday do etc etc...

Life does just not that easily follow as you wanted it to be. But I am learning to embrace that all. Stop and breath here and there, looking back what you have done so far each day and celebrate. That keeps a smile on my face and soul I believe.

This morning as I got up early, I took my skecthbook out for "doodling" during my breakfast. I popped into the local RHS garden on Monday morning using a "half-price" voucher that I kept from newspaper cut-out. Getting inspirations from some photos I took, I drew new ideas of my work on ceramics and prints.
When I see a garden, although I love the colours and flowers, I tend to more focus on something like, the shape of leaves, seed heads, outline created by shadow, roughness of the meadow etc etc. I guess this is simply because I cannot paint! If I can paint well (and I wish I could) I would love to catch those beautiful contrast of colours in this garden. Instead, I usually do line drawing. This seems working for me and easy to visualise how I can translate onto ceramics surface or screens. Anyway, this is what I “doodled”. I enjoyed ten minutes of “breathing” . Let’s get back to work. Start again.

stop, breath and celebrate!

26 June 2010

truly inspirational

Yey, it’s a season of ceramic festival! I just came home and am still buzzing from the visit. Before I go into the withdrawn syndrome (!) ... I am delighted to share with you what I saw today.

In the UK, like other european countries such as Germany, France and Holland, we have various ceramic festivals throughout the year, mainly during the summer or Christmas time. I usually go to three or four locations that I could drive and back in a day. Earth & Fire is at Rufford Abbey Country Park, Nottinghamshire and it’s a beautiful location within the ruins of a medieval monastery, especially when (or should I say if!) the weather was like today. Because of the location, Rufford has a good chance to meet the ceramicists from the south than other fairs I go, where is more in the North. For that I was so excited!

There were over 100 ceramicists' stalls packed with inspirations, including those who I introduced before in this post, Fiona, Steph and Eric. Fiona, oh bless, has got a stand in this event as her first time so she was a little nervous. To get a stand here, obviously you will need to be selected, so I gave her a huge congrats to tap her back.

Today, I spoken to three ceramicists who I particularly admire. Actually taking the work into your hands and listening to their story were truly inspring and great experience. I bought one piece each from them, by extra squeeeeeeeezing my purse. (but, they are going to be my “smile makers” in the house! Oh yes!) There we go! Hope you like them, too. For more info, please click the name of artist to view the website.

Craig Underhill - He builds slab vessels forms and creates beautiful surfaces like painting on canvases. I love his approach to clay, with mark making, shapes, colours and texture in a beautiful compositions. (And he is a very handsome guy!) Today, I was asking him about the colour, and in particular I could not take my eyes off from this red glaze in very matt texture (red is very difficult to achieve in ceramics, by the way) so I decided to bring this work home! LOVE the tactile feeling too.

Jenny Southam - I did not know about her until recently as she was featured in Ceramic Magazine. Since, I immediately fall in love with her quirky sculpture work. As I said before, this was rare opportunity to see an artist from the South like her (she is from Exeter) so it was lovely to speak to her. The display of her stand was also really pretty, like this reclining lady figure surrounded with small trees and birds. (see the image below) Each pieces have a story, which I love about. I picked up this particular story that reminded us. Isn’t that just awwwwwwwwwwww...?
How do you want me to cut your hair, darling?
(I do the same at home with his "left-out" hair!)

Jenny's pretty display

Chiu i Wu - Originally from Taiwan but is based near where I live. Unfortunately I missed the chance to see her in the last open studio so it was lovely to see her today. She is such a sweet lady to speak to. Chiu loves drawings and paintings, (which she also does. check out her website. it’s an eye-candy!) and transfers that on to hand-building tablewares or into sculpture forms. What caught my eyes the most was this simple form of dish with a tall foot. Inside, fish was drawn by hand in the shape of fish (and so tiny!), with a head of chinese calligraphy written as fish. Immediately took me back to my family home.
I didn't get to speak to or manage to buy anything from others, but there were tons of creative people there. Here, two more artists I also found inspirational.

Christy Keeney - somehow reminds me cubist arts in his sculpture. Love the how 3D works in a sense of disfanctional position. Very interesting to see.
Virginia Graham - Love her mix of pattern and form. She gave me a great influence to start my study in printing and transferring. She also produce a range of textile in her design.
Hew... by writing this, my heart kept bouncing with a joy. This is so good. I have two more festivals to go this summer, which will be featured here soon. Look forwards to it!

So, the question is.. when am I going to start the fest for my work then??? Fiona was asking me today. I was actually thinking about that. In five years time I MAY apply the local craft fair, then ten years time I MAY apply for the North POTFEST, then in twenty years time I MAY have built a confidence to try this one..... Gee Maki, you never ever get there if you think like that!!! In the back of my mind, I can hear a part of me saying. With the on-line course I am doing at the moment, I should be carrying positive energy, creative spirit and a total commitment! OK, here is my dream. I can dream big! I work hard toward. I WILL come back here to put my work. I know it’s a long way to go. But this is my aim. It was my back that needed tapping this time.
I can dream big!!!

23 June 2010

seriously cute x

Here is my AWWWWWWW factor of the week.
The weather has been superb for weeks now. After work, I have been busy at garden and working on my studio-to-be to make the most of a day like this. (you know what English weather can be like!) Anyway I just have to put these photos of our garden friends because they're SERIOUSLY CUTE!

The squirrels babies that I was talking about! One at the decking (in cheeky pose) and other one climbing out of our allotment, collecting their "hidden" food in his (or her) hand. (hope you can see). Little blackbird chick also around these days, too (above pic). They just tikle my heart. So, what is your AWWWWWWW factor?

just to add a bit from work. Art-makers have made ceramic garden candle stands. I put them together with bamboo stick to see how they look... here the result. I think they did a good job, don’t you think? I must get back to my own work soon, too!! No pressure then!?

20 June 2010


I LOVE Fiona's most recent butterfly sculpture!

I went to visit local artists yesterday via North Yorkshire Open Studios (NYOS). This is an annual event that open to the public and a great opportunity to see artists, their work and studio directly. I actually didn’t know this scheme existed until this year and recently visited other artists in the similar event. Wow that was fantastic so I could not miss my LOCALS of course.

Spending the most of afternoon, I managed to view 7 artists. They are ceramicists, wire artist, painters etc etc. All unique and so inspirational. I enjoyed getting to know people and peeking their studios - this is a fun bit! Here I would like to introduce those inspiring artsts from near where I live. Please click the link so you can see the images of work and more information.

Fiona Mazza - She is a ceramic artist who mainly focus on butterflies images. Her work are absolute eye candy.

Chris Moss - Wire artist. Her studio and garden were packed with inspiration! She does animals mainly, and her hares in the garden were pure breath-taking.

Eric Moss - He does Raku ceramics and produces numbers of forms that beautifully combine each other, which somewhat reminds me of patterns in nature. He kindly shared me some techniques (which is another great part of open studio!)

Stephanie Black - I met Steph ten years ago when I first studied ceramics (and Yorkshire English!). She was already ahead of us and produced wonderfully thrown pieces. She creates fascinating surface texture on her work.

Charlotte Black - She is a painter who uses interesting materials on her work. Her abstract pieces show very subtle colours yet dynamic movement.

Christine Relton & Tom Marine - They have been collaboratively working together for the past 14 years. I love the way two artists put their spirits and stories together. When I heard how they produce the layers on canvas, I was utterly brown away. And the studio! Looove the space.

Splash of colours! Christine & Tom's beautiful studio

18 June 2010

a nice cup of CHA!

Hello! It’s Friday evening! Since I started a blog, I began rather spending more evening time with my laptop than my darling husband... so I have decided not to blog on Friday evening at least. However, with his much loving understanding, I just wanted to share my happiness.

HANETSUBO - My winged teacups went to sweet home today! As the show ended yesterday, a lady who was interested to buy them kindly came to my work to collect the items. She is a printmaker and I love her stuff (sorry I can’t show here as she hasn’t got online site yet). I recently bought two of her prints so my pocket money in total actually gone minus, but I LOVE the feeling of someone loves to buy my work and truly enjoying the experience.

I got one "glaze sample" pot back and had a lovely cup of tea on my return home. Then I suddenly remembered my friend asking me about “how to drink in Japanese way” (I commented in this post). He specifically asked about my mother (!) but this is MY version of drinking a cup of CHA (tea) in my winged pot. Enjoy!

one hand on foot, other hand on the side to support
(in this cup, under the wings)

lift the bottom and drink

say “Ahhhhhhhh nice cup of CHA!”

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

17 June 2010

the result!

Back to work and opened a kiln this morning. Here is the result of our project with art-makers. This is a ceramic sundial in a shape of sunflower that we are going to give to a local children’s centre. We all are happy with the result. Hope they will like it, too!

This was the second group project that my workshop guys contributed. This time last year I was in charge of another big sculpture project - making a giant ceramic teapot! The local National Trust requested us to do in three months. Oh, it was such a fun (although I was under the pressure towards the deadline!) I share some images here.

sculpture skelton arrived - metal work by a local black smith

mini me running around a giant teapot to assemble pieces
prior to the dead line

we made hundreds of miniature cups and saucers to decorate!!
everything was handmade at Henshaws

then dismantled, wrapped and moved a house....

reassembled at site again then open ceremony! ta-ta!

completed work at the site. visitors enjoying the touch!

More detailed article about this was featured in Ceramic Review magazine issue 240. The teapot sculpture is located at National Trust Beningbrough Hall, which is absolutely worth visiting place. So check it out!

16 June 2010


blue sky and my studio-to-be

Hi there! Hope you are having a good week. Here in North Yorkshire, the weather has been so far super fantastic! Blue sky, fresh breeze and birds singing. I love English summer because I can enjoy the lovely sun light until late evening. This is one of the things I never experienced when I was in Japan.
So, what I have been up to in this weather when I got back form work? Building on my studio(to-be). Yes, more physical work! But I enjoyed it. I must have got such a positive energy at the moment. And I’m loving it! (I do Karate by the way so I have stamina!)

Just thought I’d add this photo that my husband took in our garden yesterday. A little squirrel. Our neighbor has got a huge conifer tree in their garden and we think lots of animals and birds live in there. We had a pair of squirrels kept coming to our decking since we dropped a few peanuts. We only did it occasionally as I felt against their nature (although they must be used to the town people here and are usually “stealing” bird seeds!) They often don’t eat them straight away but hid at different locations for eating them later. Half year on, the pair must got two babies, and this is one of them. Really makes me smile!

Tomorrow morning, I will be opening a kiln to check out the piece that I was working on with art-makers at work. Hopefully I can show you the result. Fingers crossed.

13 June 2010

CRAFT exhibition started

It's been a busy week with preparation for the exhibition job at work that one of my colleagues and I have been curating, organizing and finally setting up. This is an exhibition called "CRAFT" that presents various craft work by a selection of art makers who we support at Henshaw's Arts & Crafts Centre. With help from my fellow colleague with much of his skills (thanks al!), we have done a pretty good job I think. For me this was the first time to do such a job at work, so it was very refreshing and left me a kind of sentimental feeling, too. The CRAFT exhibition is on now until Sunday 18th July. Those who may be around this area, please do call in. It is looking great!

Hence, I know this is a bit of excuse but I was not able to keep up with the e-course I am doing. I have got quite a few topics that I need to read up. However, I must say this, it has been fantastic. First of all, I got this blog started because of the course input. Then I (Yes, me! very shy Maki!) have been expanding my network through the course. This sense of connection has been just amazing! A totally new experience. We encourage each other and accept our vulnerability at the same time. I feel much more stronger, positive and truly honest to myself day by day. This is great. For that, I want to say thank you here, for those who looked at my blog and commented to me. It’s been a good start for me because of you!

Today my husband and I were working hard to establish the entrance area between the house and my pottery studio-to-be. Last year we got flooded the area badly so we’ve decided to make a sump along the way prior to planting anything. Digging the soil wasn’t that easy as you think, oh it was hard work! It is still a long way to go until I actually utilise the studio, but I felt an achievement at the end of the day. One of my close friend told me before, “when you do have lots of jobs to do, set a small goal. Each time you reach to the small goal, celebrate it. Otherwise you will never enjoy the result of endless jobs.” Indeed. (By the way I completed painting the stairs today! So I felt as if I got a bonus!)

8 June 2010

end of year exhibition!

Tonight was an open evening of the end of year show of the course. It was really lovely. I am still feeling the buzz! First of all, thank you so much for people who came to our show. It was lovely to hear the comment to everyone's work. Also thank you for all of my co-students who are fantastically helpful eachother throughout the year. Without you, I couldn’t have done it! Here I would like to share some images of my work, which I photographed prior to the show. Hope you enjoy it!

The display looks like this. I have got this corner space for five of my works. This was my first opportunity to show what I made to the public (except photography I did in the past). So I was pretty nervous.

BLUE BOX & BOOKS: Chagall’s above the town REMIX
This was my very first assignment. It’s a narrative box with lots of zippers and buttons which allow you to open and follow the story. It contains a lid page, four detachable books (all 3D pop up), ceramic base page and final page, which is inside the box when opened as you can see here. It’s a bit difficult to see how it works, so I made a guidebook for the guest. I’m thinking of showing in a video but can’t do it until the show finished. I will hopefully show that in a few weeks time, so please do call back to view!

“KITCHEN” teacosy
Behind that, there are three tea cozies that I made out of hand-printed fabric, in which I designed in screen print. This was my first trial of screen print, so I was very chuffed about the result. I also did print on paper too.

This is the one of the two versions. I hand-drew the image of pots and pots and more pots..(Yes, I am a big POT LOVER!) like I did for fabric, and screen printed. Few people gave me positive comments on this printing. Thank you!!

HANETSUBO “yunomi” version
They are fairly recent ones. Been trying tableware with wings. (I love wings!) This is YUNOMI (Japanese tea cups) and I have been exploring this matt white glaze for a while, which I named it “February white” (as it had a good result in last Feb). My friend said they are pretty but it would be difficult to hold those wings as a handle of cup. Well, it’s actually not a handle because we don’t use a handle for drinking tea in Japan. So I shown him how I would hold this cup... then he asked me if he could see the real picture of my mum doing the same (how peculiar!), so that will be my next task! Anyway, someone really liked them and requested to buy them all! Can’t believe!!!

LUCH Bath ballistic angels
This was kind of the main work of the show I think. In this assignment, we had to promote an existing product. So I picked up LUSH and chosen “bath ballistic”. Just to note I made these all in ceramics and as for birdcage, it's plaster. It was last winter that I made these, and I used “bear” tree in winter as a blank canvas to display. It worked very well.
Just to add for this. I have got a short clip from when I displayed at outside of college. Video blurs a bit but it made them look like really flying!

Last year I had a fortunate opportunity to actually window-display them in our local LUSH store! This was just before the Christmas so it was such a lovely atmosphere. Great experience. The below is the photo of me displaying ceramic angels in LUSH window.

Thank you for watching. Right now I have got lots of ideas coming up in my head and can’t wait to go back to the studio in September. In the meantime, I will continue to work sock off to build my workshop. Slowly but surely... x M

7 June 2010

screen print test tile

Just sorting out some test pieces that I did during this semester. This is one of the test tiles of my screen print design "kitchen". I printed the similar pattern on to fabric and made a tea cosy, which will be on the end of year exhibition on Tuesday. I am nervous but so excited!

6 June 2010

one step at a time

So here I am. This is totally new. I have been on "flying lessons" by wonderful US artist Kelly Rae Roberts for a week. This is e-learning course I enrolled for the first time in my life and so far sooooooooooo marvelous!

Up until now I wouldn't have dared starting a blog myself. I've even avoided the thought of it. Fear of stepping outside of my comfort zone. Fear of not being good enough to show myself to the world. Fear of comparison. My English, my work, my thought and feeling... who really cares? That was me. (probably still is) As much as I’d love to be creative and be honest to myself, I could not move forward for a long long time. But hey, someone out there (indeed, Kelly and all of those co-flyers) told me the truth. Everyone starts somewhere. Face your fear. Practice courage. You can do this by taking one step at a time... So I decided it's a time. Now I can say out-loud "Hello, me. I'm out here. This is my new start. This is the first page of my creative journey. It's going to be good."

By the way, I have been re-painting our staircases lately after all these re-painting after re-sanding...(long story) and I was desperate to complete this “task” as soon as possible. Just happen to be a perfect time, as we are about to go out for this weekend so I thought I could paint all at once and leave them to dry during our absence. Got everything we needed downstairs, here I go.. but my husband wanted me to paint alternative steps so that he could run upstairs just in case. Means that I need to do it again! A little hesitation but I followed his suggestion. After painting, I put post-its on those steps for him "just in case" he needs to access. He smiled. Then it clicked my heart. This is what I am going to do, isn't it? I will remember this bit. We both smiled and went out for the weekend away. (without him going back to the stairs except ME taking this photo)