pottery

Kuge Crafts (Teshigotoya Kuge) launches new website

teshigotoya-kuge_new_website 旦那の両親が教室を再開しました。手仕事屋久家で、絵画や楽焼や金継ぎを教えます。企画支援もあります。様々な年齢や国籍の人が集まります。私は教室で、最近エアプラントの植木鉢を作りました。杉並区の新高円寺の近くです。お気軽に見学にいらしてください! My in-laws have relaunched their art studio as Kuge Crafts, or Teshigotoya Kuge. They are still teaching pottery and also now kintsugi (a form of decorative repair for ceramics), drawing, and jewelry making. The studio is near Shin Koenji, in Suginami ward. The teachers welcome students from all countries and of all ages. One thing the website doesn’t mention is that delicious cake and coffee are also served at every class! If you’re interested, please call or drop by! Thanks to graphic designer and former student Jessica Mantell and front-end developer Kai Bansner, we made a new website for the studio that is formatted for smart phones, PCs, and tablets.

White pansies have bloomed all winter in kintsugi ceramic

史火で友人のマシューが作った金継ぎの植木鉢の中でこの白色のパンジーは冬からずっと咲いています。金継ぎという芸術は壊れた陶器を直すことです。

I love this white pansy and the beautiful kintsugi pot that my friend Matthew made at Shiho ceramic studio. Kintsugi is a technique for repairing broken pottery, and involves painting the cracked lines in gold or silver. They’re have been many continuous flowers for months, even though I never added soil or any nutrients to the store-bought filler plant. Very satisfying and cheerful.

Shin Koenji garden explodes in mega-growth

 東日本大地震の影響で、東京の庭の草木がものすごく育ったと、日本のお母さんが言っています。

Recently, my mother-in-law surprised me by telling me that she attributes her garden’s explosive growth this spring to the Tohoku earthquake on March 11.

I was surprised, too, by its mega-growth: the hydrangea are enormous, once small variegated vines are sprawling, the self-sown shuro palm is pushing lots of new leaves. The growth is all the more suprising since the garden is very shaded, particularly after the plum and persimmon trees leaf out in April. I inquired about fertilizer use, but m-i-l insists that she adds nothing more than frequent watering when there’s no rain.

I love how her recent attachment to gardening have transformed a rarely used place into a great addition to her home and pottery studio.

This small garden includes the fruit trees that pre-date the studio, volunteer plants like the palm tree, and more recent garden plants. The sour plum tree produce thousands of tiny fruits that m-i-l makes into a home-made jam.

From Shiho blog.

Beautiful water plants in bowl outside Shizen

I love these water plants outside of Shizen in Sendagaya. Shizen is a stylish pottery, homewares, and plant store on the ground floor, with a great restaurant with very reasonably priced lunch specials on the second floor, and a roof garden. A simple bowl with plants can really add visual impact to a central city sidewalk.

Ceramic studio’s new website

My in-laws have been teaching ceramics in Tokyo for over 30 years. I recently helped them relaunch the website for their Shiho ceramic school in Suginami. Please have a look. The website is in Japanese, but very visual. The classes attract an interesting mix of first timers and serious hobbyists, Japanese and foreigners.

Several students have developed their skills over five years or more and have solo shows. Everyone participates in an annual student show, as well as special events like climbing Mount Fuji in the summer, bizen pottery in Numazu (wood fired ovens), bowling parties, and mochi-making parties.

For me, pottery has been a way to experience Japan’s famous soil, and to create dozens of flower pots for my balcony garden. In addition to the pottery wheel, you can make pottery through hand forming and shaving, or through forming slabs and using molds. Pottery is fun and connects students with each other and the earth.

The website illustrations are by Kuge Shu.

5bai Midori plants arrive during typhoon

5bai Midori plants arrive during typhoon, Shiho pottery studio

Thursday 5bai Midori delivered the three “satoyama units” I ordered, two for my home and one for Shiho, the pottery studio I attend in Suginami. I was amazed that the delivery service was uninterrupted by Typhoon #18 (known as Melor outside Japan), the first typhoon to hit Japan’s mainland in two years.

5bai Midori in boxes at home

5bai Midori’s native plants were more than I expected. It takes 4 weeks from ordering to delivery, and they arrive in large cardboard boxes. When the teachers and students opened the box at Shiho, they found a lizard. I hope he adjusts to life in the big city.

5bai Midori box at Shiho

The “satoyama units” are amazing: a mix of small trees, bushes, grasses and vines. The Shiho unit is a 30 centimeter square. The home ones for the balcony are 20 cm square and a rectangle measuring 15 cm by 50 cm. Included is a detailed list of the plants, including name, family name, latin name, description and care instructions. There is even a description of the metal frame and the soil. Attached to many plants are small metal tags with the plant’s name.

5bai Midori plants arrive during typhoon

I will blog about the seasonal change and growth of these 5bai Midori satoyama units. The locations could not be more different: the home balcony is on a high floor balcony with full southern sun. The pottery studio faces north and is underneath an awning.

5bai Midori plants arrive during typhoon

The pottery teachers were somewhat concerned about police protests (apparently they previously complained about the air conditioning units that also sit on the small strip of pavement between studio and sidewalk), and the possibility of theft. Still, they are excited to have this live environment which will slow pedestrians down and introduce more people to their studio. If it works out, I’d like to add several more units.

Here are my previous posts about 5bai Midori:

Beautifying major streets (May 5)
Meeting Tase Michio (May 21)
5bai Midori, or 5 sided green (May 22)
3 Projects created by 5bai Midori (July 22)
Satoyama and biodiversity (August 26)

And here are the sketches they created when we first discussed the projects.

5bai midori sketch for Shiho garden 5bai midori sketch for balcony garden

The balcony plant list is: Reineckea carnea, Quercus acustissima, Quercus serrata, Camellia sasanqua, Quercus myrsinaefolia, Clematis terniflora, Carex siderosticta, Trachelospermum asiaticum, Trachelospermum jasminoides, Eurya japonica, Petasites japonicus, Ardisia japonica, Liriope muscari, Kerria japonica.