27 March 2011


(Information only. This post is updated on 12th May 2011, following the completion of the project.)

What is it?
This project was set up by Makiko Hastings, Japanese ceramicist who currently lives in North Yorkshire, U.K. , aiming to raise money to help Japan for their recovery from the devastating Earthquake and Tsunami on 11th March 2011. Makiko has family and friends in Japan, where many others are affected by the Earthquake. As you can imagine, Japan’s recovery will take a long time, it can be decades for people to get back their lives. They need help more than ever. Makiko believes every little helps and can make a difference, which lead her to the idea of selling1000 handmade ceramic birds. All sales of the birds went to Japan Earthquake appeal. 
Why 1000 birds?
The idea was influenced by the Japanese story of 1000 paper cranes. Please click here for the information.

What does the bird look like? 
(click to view larger images)
The original design of bird came from her work, bird and building box, which she has been making since 2009. Each bird is handmade and individually decorated by Makiko from her home studio. The birds on this project have no wings, instead ‘HELP JAPAN’ logo were embossed on its body, which emphasising the wish that with YOUR HELP they can hopefully fly for their life once again. Red chest is a symbol of Japan. Individual birds are numbered from 0001 to 1000. Makiko’s signature is embossed on the tail. Birds are small enough to hold in your palm, in a shape of a chopstick rest. You can also keep it as a lucky charm, which is a tradition in Japan. (e.g. to wish for your child’s growth and good health) 
A short documentary film of making birds can be seen here

Who and how helped on this project? 
The project was opened to the public via this blog SHIN SHIN, so anyone who could access to the blog could offer help. The method of order was used Email and pay pal payment system. 
Makiko received 176 online orders in total from all round the world, including the U.K., Northern Ireland, U.S.A., Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Slovenia, Israel, South Africa, Singapore, Malaysia and affected county Japan. Birds were carefully and individually wrapped by Makiko along with her hand written message to the participants and posted by Royal Mail. 
For online orders, 730 birds in total have flown to the new homes. The rest of 270 birds were by direct purchase from Makiko’s studio and the local event on the 23rd April.
How much was it? 
The bird was sold £3.50 each with additional charge of P&P. Extra donation was voluntary.  
How long this project lasted? 
The project opened to the public on the 27th March. It was originally set up as an on-going project to help Japan long term, until the sales reach 1000 birds. Due to the huge response from all round the world, the project completed on 30th April when received all payment toward the bird order. 
Makiko thanks to all people who spread the word through their blogs and social network sites, which resulted this project so successful. 

How much did the project raise? 
Total donation on the project was £3975. Donation from HELP JAPAN HANDMADE ART SALE was added on to this, and we have raised £4933.20 in total.
Where did money go?
All donation was sent to Japanese Red Cross via the Japanese Embassy. This has been forwarded to the Donation Allocation Committees of the relevant local governments in the affected areas to be dispensed to the people affected by this disaster.
What else could we do now? 
Your thoughts and prayers for people in Japan would be great support for their on-going recovery. If you would like to continue any donation, you can visit Japanese red cross site, which currently accepts donation until September 2011. 
Thank you so much for your support on this project. 
© makikohastings all copyright reserved

24 March 2011

HELP JAPAN 1000 Birds Project - prep.2

Thank you so so much everyone for replying to my previous post for HELP JAPAN 1000 Birds Project! Thank you for speading the word via your blog site and facebook pages. Your support is grately appreciated and so encouraging for people in Japan today. Many of my friends who live in Japan are already spreading YOUR positive energy to help people over there, so thank you!
Sorry for keeping you waited, but finally my paypal account is now confirmed. (I’ve never expected it to be so complicated...) The first batch of 100 birds will be out of the glaze firing tomorrow so that I could check out all postal costs and everything else accordingly. Hopefully the project will be open on my next post. Please keep your anticipation and do come back. 

In the meantime, I would like to show you some images of the first batch of 100 birds on day 2 & 3. I can only do so much at once and have been working in the studio after work till midnight so far. Bisque fired birdies are carefully hand-decorated one by one, wiped, waxed and glazed. Every pieces are unique, just like our characters. They don’t have wings to fly, that’s why they need YOUR HELP so that they could fly for their life again. During this process, I was thinking of all people who needs help in Japan and those who are supporting in this project. You are the one who helping me do this, too :) 
Before I go (am off to the studio again to continue another 50 to be finished before going to bed tonight), I will share one video that I found via Japanese site. There are no English translation, but you can see what they are helping each other TODAY in Japan. What you can do individually may be small but that little help will be big if many people do. 1000 birds project is the same idea. In UK where I live, Japan related news has already started to disappear from TV. That does not mean that they are fine. They are facing a very long term recovery. Please don’t forget they are STILL suffering and fighting for thier life. Please do come back. Every Little Helps. xm

21 March 2011

HELP JAPAN 1000 Birds Project - prep.1

Day 1
The first batch of 100 birds is now ‘baking’.
I am waiting for my paypal account to be confirmed. 
Hopefully these can be yours via on line soon.
Please spread the word. Every Little Helps.

18 March 2011

Every Little Helps

A week has passed since the devastation in Japan. Here in the UK where I live today, although people care and give me thoughts and prayers, life just goes on.  At college, we are counting down for the biggest show in April. I’m supposed to be super busy, but my mind hasn’t been functioning. Looking at a pile of to do list, I am trying to keep as occupied as possible, which temporarily helps me getting by each day. It has become my routine to check the news as soon as I get back home instead of going to the studio. This lasts almost all evening. I’d better avoid watching the news so long, you may suggest, but I need to know about them, I feel the need, so I continue to look for Japanese news on line, as BBC doesn’t show everything. Each day, things are getting worse. Hundreds of thousands people are now homeless. Not enough food is getting to them. Blackout and severe weather hits many. People are starving and suffering from hypothermia, within the evacuated places and even in the hospitals. 
The situation at Fukushima has worsened and gets closer to my parents home. My worries translate into the numbers of phone calls I make to my family. A retired couple not picking up the phone at home. That’s odd. My worries accelerate. Eventually I found out that my mother ended up calling for an emergency paramedic at her friend’s house, as she found her on a floor. My mum was concerned as she didn't answer the phone, so went to her house to see if she was ok. She lives on her own and had mentioned before that she had family in Fukushima. She is now in the hospital. More concerns and fatigues spread out to my mum. I tell her sarcastically that she is strong enough as she could walk for 7 hours, trying to give her a little rest. She laughs for a second, then tells me that they are fine, nothing to worry. We pray for her recovery and the rest of Japan. 
Many foreigners are now leaving Japan and people in Tokyo are moving out of the city. Instead, I would rather jump in the airplane now and go to help those who need urgent help. I know this cannot be done, as I just get in a way. Knowing too many people are suffering in Japan, my home country, I feel helpless for not being able to do much, other than praying hard. 
On my arrival to work yesterday, I found many white origami lilies on the workshop table. Caring messages from my students and staff for me and Japan. Opening each pieces and finds their bold writings and drawings. I started to cry. I must carry those prayers with me. For Japan. For people who are suffering. I started to think what I could possibly do more. I must use my brain rather than just watching news and feeling sad. 
Many artists, musicians and professionals are using their work and skills to collect the donation. Having seen them, I feel little discouraged as I am not certain that I could do enough like them. I don’t even know how to start selling things on line either. There’s too little time to start learning such computer tech what not. Yet opening my studio is limited for people’s attention. After squeezing my little brain, I decided to go for the local. It may be small but better than nothing. I applied for the local Easter fair stall next month to sell my stocks of ceramic and print work for Japanese Earthquake appeal, which all proceeds to go to Japanese Charity. 
In order to collect as many casual attentions from the visitors as possible, I have also decided to make 1000 mini birds to sell alongside. I can do them quick enough by Easter and also small enough to be able to post, if anyone interested in contributing on line. Why 1000? The idea came from a Japanese story of 1000 cranes. It may not be going to work, but worth trying. The full recovery of Japan will take a long time, it can take years or even decades. Until those hundreds of thousands people can live under the proper roof, with food and sleep without fear, Japan will continue to need help. 1000 birds may sound silly for someone like me, a small individual, but I believe even little help would make a difference. So I will be continuing to keep this 1000 birds for HELP JAPAN open to anyone who can help via my fair, outlet and hopefully soon in my blog. From tomorrow, I will be starting this as well as preparing for the fair. College work will catch up. I know what my aim is now. I can do this. 
It would be grateful if you could share your thoughts on this. For those who are happy to donate, I will post more information as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can go to;
Handmade for Japan - This US site will be doing an on line auction shortly. 
Whatever the way you choose to do it and how small it can be, your help is valued for many many people in Japan now and the future.  

12 March 2011


After a restless long day of trying to contact my family and friends in Japan, my saddened feeling has never stopped. What nature brought to Japan on Friday has begun to appear far worse. 
Firstly, thank you for those who were concerned about my family and friends via emails, phone and facebook etc. They are all safe, including my close friends who live in Hachijyo island and in Sendai where tsunami hit directly. My parents were trapped in underground at that time but luckily managed to get out and ‘walked’ home for 7 hours from Tokyo in the black out. 
I hear that the energy of this earthquake was 8000 times of recent Christchurch, 22000 times of atomic bomb in Hiroshima. Tsunami was as if dropping a boulder the size of Isle of Wight into the ocean. These are not just numbers and metaphor that scares me but also a horrible reminder of what beautiful nature could do to powerless human. The earthquake has not stopped yet. My family still feels the shakes every minutes today, people in North in particular, in much high level of magnitude. Fear and tsunami warning will continue. 
My heart aches so much for people who lost their life, of loved ones and homes, after seeing devastating scenes. Soon after the earthquake yesterday, I received so many desperate voices via RT twitter from people who were still stuck in cars and buildings, and were unable to escape from tsunami. I could only hope they are now rescued safely. Due to the massive damage of Fukushima nuclear plant, which is supplying major amount of electricity to many areas of Japan, many cities are still shut down. In many areas, including Tokyo, there will be ‘scheduled black out’ again to save energy from this Monday till they don’t know when. In the most effected areas, survivors who lost homes and loved ones have to face the after effect in still dark and snowy-cold weather. In Fukushima, people continued to evacuate from one place to another, each time the radiation warning spread, without getting much information. Hearing what they experienced was terrifying, even though I have ‘grown up’ with earthquakes in my whole life, it was beyond belief. Devastating. 
All my feelings and thoughts are for the people in Japan. 
HOPE is all I can do.

7 March 2011


new version of rakugaki (doodle) series. 
this is ladder to the sky. xm

3 March 2011

girl’s day

Today was girl’s day in Japan. We display Ohinasama dolls to celebrate the day, wishing for girls' growth and happiness, traditionally believing that dolls take the place when illness comes. When I was young, my mother used to display a pair of beautifully hand-crafted dolls for me every year. These new small dolls are a gift from her that arrived yesterday. Bringing me back some memories :) Thanks mum. 

By the way, boy’s day is 5th May and it’s a National Holiday, whilst today isn’t. I always felt unfair, especially having grown up with two brothers. xm 

1 March 2011

learning curve

The result of the first glaze firing in my studio. Some good, some need reviewing. It is not straight forward for everything to get a happy result. Especially the glazing is a killer as it could ruin the whole thing at the last minute. There is always something to learn. At least Hanetsubo candle holders seem to be steady away... They are going to be at BCTF in April as a part of my course work. Hope they will bear with the pressure. (I certainly won't!) xm