Friday, June 22, 2012

illustration friday (space)

hashi-oki (chopstick rests)








There was a time in my late teens and early twenties when I seriously considered becoming a professional potter. My life unfurled in another direction entirely, but my love for clay and things formed from clay has always remained. For a while I satisfied that love by collecting earthenware dishes-- forms that delighted my eyes and hands, made with particular clays or techniques that represented different regions in Japan and other countries in Asia. But for a young family that was constantly on the move, pottery was too heavy, too fragile, took up space we didn't have, and was, quite frankly, too expensive a hobby. So I turned my eyes to ceramic  hashi-oki, the "chopstick rests" that are often exquisite works of art in miniature, but are cheap, sturdy, and take up very little space.

handmade ceramic buttons







Fast forward a few decades, and we come to the last year or two, during which I've had the pleasure of getting to know Vika, an artist who makes buttons, pendants, and brooches from clay. She is curious about Etegami, partly because she sees it as "art in miniature," similar to what she is making. She asks me about the aesthetics and processes of my work. From time to time she sends me beautiful buttons that she says were inspired by my etegami. Last year she interviewed me for a post on a blog called Beads of Clay.  I owe her for opening my eyes to a world I had never considered before. The creativity and skill packed into each button astound me. Like hashi-oki chopstick rests, they are affordable, utilitarian, and take up very little space. Even someone like me, who never, ever sews and has almost no use for buttons as buttons, can spend many delightful hours touching and admiring each of these tiny morsels of art.

11 comments:

  1. Funny how things sort of roll around and artists meet artists and some of us do many types of art and meet in different groups. I came to follow your blog through doing temari and yubinuki. I met Vika through Beads of Clay, I used to do a lot of clay work, but now am studying hard for my temari certifications which cuts into clay time. I have had the priviledge of participating in BOC swaps, and have several beads/buttons of Vika's that I absolutely treasure! She is a consummate bead artist! Your button etagami did well by her buttons! Beautiful.

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  2. Aaaawww. Debbie, thank you. Your comment means a lot because I am in awe of your etegami. Thank you very much.

    OOOOOOOOHHHHH!!! Chop stick rests. I saw them when I stopped over in Tokyo early this year. They are so delicate and wonderful. Alas, I don't know how to use chop sticks but my children do so I bought them chop sticks but did not get the rests! I will be sure to get a couple when I stop by again. Do you still have your collection?

    Thank you again for your visits and supportive comments.

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    1. I do! I do still have my collection of hashi-oki, and it continues to grow. Right now I have them scattered along the edges of my bookshelves, but eventually I want to get one of those glass-topped coffee tables that has a wood frame with lots of little compartments (like a printer's drawer) so I can display them. :)

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  3. Hi, Debbie,
    Another great post! I love them all!!
    Cheers, Sadami

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  4. So interesting as always, Debbie. Your life has taken many turns, as has mine. Pottery was one of my passions as well, but I had no gift for doing it, just admiring. I collected for a short time, but then when i went to Turkey to teach I had to sacrifice many possessions in order to vacate my house. The pottery is just a memory now.

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  5. What delightful, sweet collections they are, and you captured them beautifully in your etegami!

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  6. Ohhh, I love Hashi-oki!! They are small, could be cute/pretty and really practical thing!

    I prefer to eat salad with chopsticks (much easier to handle leafy vegetables than forks)and I wish I brought bring some Hashioki from Japan.

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    1. I absolutely agree that salad is best eaten with chopsticks! :)

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  7. I just love these! Collections of tiny beautiful things. So cute and precious, particularly the range of wonderful patterns on the buttons. Loved the interview as well! Do you still think etegami are not fine art? It seems like fine art to me. But you are the one with all the cultural experience. (I was going to say "expert" but that does not strike me as a word one would choose in this context.) :)

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  8. Read the link interview, nice insights to take away... especially the idea of a small thing standing for more than itself as an object - makes me think of the treasure I felt I held when I was allowed to look in my mom's button collection. (housed, actually in the round wooden containers that used to hold my father's go pieces - the cold stone chips so similar to buttons) and the memory has led me to cut off buttons from clothing no longer in use, to enjoy on my own or share with my kids. Thanks for awakening these memories, Debbie. I will go now and see if I have any ceramic button treasures.

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