Monday, 5 December 2011

Kuniko Kanawa


Q So who is Kuniko Kanawa ?

Kuniko Kanawa is Japanese, a professionally trained authentic Edo Tsumami Kanzashi artisan as well as a certified Kimono consultant of All Japan Kimono Consultant Association.

My works can be seen at:


IMG_8065 interview

Q Where in the world are you based?

I was born and raised in Japan and currently live in the Unites States.

I work in both countries, but mainly in the United States.

Q When did you decide to become a maker?

I do not remember if there was a particular moment that I decided to become a maker. I would say it just happened like it was my destiny, directed by my ancestors, which I am very honoured to live for rest of my life.

As I was studying Kimono, I became more and more into pursuing our traditional culture and felt the strong need to preserve it by discovering that it is rapidly disappearing due to us becoming too westernized. Our traditional culture is the core of our soul. I just could not let us loose it, for our ancestors and future generations. Somebody must carry.

By the time I realized, I end up obtaining a certification of Kimono consultant and became a professionally trained Edo Tsumami Kanzashi artisan. At the same time, I studied Bingata, and Japanese classical dance. Again, I must have directed to this life by our ancestors.



Q What made you choose the materials that you work with?

Definitely being Japanese made me choose Kimono (silk, cotton, rayon), Chiyogami and traditional natural dye to work on.

For dichroic glass, I fell in love with the finished look after melting it in a kiln. Fused glass is amazingly beautiful. So I thought it will be perfect for Obi-dome (Obi belt holder).

Q What other materials would you like to work in?

If I am to work on any new materials, I would like to work on glass to make Japanese glass beads.

Q Where do you get your inspiration from?

I certainly get inspiration from beautiful Mother Nature. Living with enriched seasons, such as Spring, Tsuyu (transitional rainy season between Spring and Summer), Summer, Autumn, and Winter definitely inspires me.

I also get inspiration from other traditional Japanese cultures and other types of Japanese artisans who strive themselves for “Kami – waza” (神業:an act of Deities), meaning the feat beyond human power.


Q What motivates you?

Respecting how our ancestors strived to carry traditional Japanese handicraft motivates me.

Q Do you create your work in a studio base or a home base?

I have a fabulous studio at my new home, surrounded by protected forest by the state.



Q Crafts in the 21st Century – what does this mean to you?

Crafts in the 21st Century means, “No roots, no future”

This is the time for Artisans to once again look back the history and respect traditions, to be truly creative. No profound understandings of roots, no authentic art.



Q How do you sell and promote your work?

I mainly sell through my online shop.

I sometimes attend craft shows.

Some resellers such as museums sell my work.

For promotion, I deal with press, YouTube, Facebook, twitter and MySpace and so on.



Q What does your typical working day look like?

Wake up in the morning.

Perform simplified “Misogi” (禊: a purification ceremony (performed with water); ablutions) before visiting Shinto shrine

Pray for Shinto shrine, to appreciate nature, our ancestors, and our traditional culture.

Take my Kishu dog (the oldest/ancient breed in Japan) for a walk in woods

Have breakfast.

Take care of some housework

Work in my studio

- check e-mails from my customers or any purchase

- prepare shipments.

- draw new designs.
- make new items or custom orders.

- take pictures of pieces

- post new items in my web shop.

- Edit my shop or official website if necessary



Q What is your working style?

1. Morning person, but can be a night person as well

2. very organized

3. mixture of traditional and contemporary

Q 3 words of advice for an aspiring Craft artist/maker...

1. Be always respectful to authenticity and ancestors who carried that art with all of their lives

2. Be modest

3. Be free

Q Who is/are your favourite artist(s)/maker(s)?

Hiroshige Utagawa (Ukiyo-e artist)

Hiroshi Matsuda (Kanazawa Japanese Umbrella artisan)



Q likes and dislikes?


1. Living with Nature

2. Visiting world heritage

3. Singing


1. Noise

2. Smokers who lack the manners

3. Terrible customer service


Q What do you do to relax?

Hiking in Mother Nature

Taking a bath, ideally Hot Spring

Chilling by a Japanese pond at home


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Claire Partington


Q So who is Claire Partington?

I’m an Artist working in Ceramics


Q Where in the world are you from?

I live and work in North West London, UK. My roots are further north, but I’ve been a Londoner for nearly twenty years. I like the ever changing diversity of London and I have my family here.



Q When did you decide to become an artist/ maker?

I was always making stuff as a child and I left school to study Art, it was pretty much an automatic impulse. I moved to London to do a Fine Art degree at Central Saint Martins, specialising in Sculpture, but I found my year group very serious and disjointed and I couldn’t really gel. I took a year out, and went back into a much more relaxed group, but by then, I was more interested in the practicalities of life and I’d lost interest in making my own Art. Obviously, I was still very interested in Art and Design and, once I left full time Education, I eventually found jobs in Museums and Galleries working in Exhibitions both as a technician and exhibition organiser.



Q What made you choose the materials that you work with?

I always looked forward to Pottery lessons at School, most probably because we had an excellent if somewhat anarchic teacher who had some of his vinyl collection in the studio and let the students choose what music to listen to, so it was a bit of escapism from the norms of school life (I still have the Funkadelic record he gave me). It’s also a very rewarding medium – instant gratification, even though ceramics has a number of processes, the initial modelling stage can be very quick.

I returned to making Art and ceramics in particular, because I had a career change from Art and Exhibition work to Music. In 2003, I got a job at a Mute records archiving their back catalogue and I started attending a Ceramics Workshop in the evenings at Kensington and Chelsea College (which was just a short walk away) and I stayed there for about five years.

I think my return to making, especially in ceramics was prompted by the detachment from the Fine Art world, so not having the pressure of finding some conceptual reason for making Art and returning to auto pilot. Although my work is Fine Art and obviously has a lot of cultural and historical references, it’s primarily produced for my own enjoyment.



Q What other materials would you like to work in?

As a sculptor, I’ve tried all sorts of media. I do add a bit of mixed media to my ceramics here and there and I’m going to continue with that, but at present I’m sticking with clay.


Q Where do you get your inspiration from?

A lot of my work is based on folk and fairy tales, so they are illustrations and I’m inspired by some of the illustrations from books I remember as a child. I started making a few figures based on illustrations by Russian Artist Ivan Bilibin, who had such a beautiful style.

I’m a magpie for decorative styles and I was lucky enough to work at the V&A Museum, which is such an inspirational place and fantastic resource for makers. I also did a Post Graduate Degree in Museum Studies as I’m fascinated by the need for people to collect and classify “stuff” and display their collections. There have been so many “golden ages” of European collectors and I love the European appropriation and misinterpretation of the “Exotic” in period interiors and applied Art and Design.



Q What motivates you?

This comes back to that automatic, spontaneous urge to make things. I always have ideas flying around and it’s a shame not to realise them.


Q Do you create your work in a studio base or a home base?

I work from home and a studio. I have young children, so most of my work is done in my kitchen in the evenings and I have a studio space at Kingsgate Workshops in Kilburn that I get to at the weekends.



Q Crafts in the 21st Century – what does this mean to you?

Well, it’s a totally different beast from my perception of Craft from twenty years ago. I guess as someone outside of a Craft background I have a very stereotypical and withering view, a lot of brown – large wooden jewellery and brown ceramics, all obviously hand made and a bit wonky.

However, a lot of the work I see today is really design led rather than purely materials led and often very slick, maybe it’s a return to the high standards and diversity set by the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 1800’s early 1900’s or maybe there’s just more opportunity for Craft makers to show their work.

I have to say, I don’t consider myself to be a Craft practitioner, rather someone working in Applied Arts, as my background and work is Fine Art, but I think that reflects the change in how craft is considered generally.



Q How do you sell and promote your work?

Initially, I made a conscious decision not to sell via Ceramics fairs and Craft galleries as I didn’t feel my work or myself would sit well in that environment. I’m represented by the James Freeman Gallery in London. I recently had a show there for the whole of June 2011 and they are very active selling at Art fairs like the AAF.

I’ve just been selected to be a member of the CAA, so will have work available from them and I have a website showcasing some of my work and I get a fair amount of interest via that. –

I also want do more curated shows, where the theme, rather than the media or price range is the reason for inclusion and I may show my work in a few group exhibitions in the coming months. See my website for any updates on exhibitions.



Q What is your typical working day like?

As I said before, I have young children, so I generally only work in the evenings, when I can get three or four hours of uninterrupted time. I can carry out research, like museum visits with my kids in tow, but I like to get out to the studio for a full day of work at the weekend.


Q What is your working style?

It’s historically influenced and uses a lot of traditional techniques and materials, but there are a lot of contemporary urban references thrown in due to my environment and personal influences. I’ve been making a lot of large figurative vessels so I would say predominantly historically influenced figurative vessels. I’m currently making a large pair of porcelain figures of Louis XIV and his wife and I’m going overboard on decoration.


Q 3 words of advice for an aspiring Craft artist/maker...

Do it yourself



Q Who is/are your favourite artist(s)/maker(s)?

I’m really inspired by amazing skill, and there are hundreds of beautiful unattributed objects in the V&A in all mediums. I’m fairly new to the world of the Ceramic Artist and it’s only in the past few years that I’ve taken an active interest, but I really like the work of Matthew Groves and Sophie Woodrow. They are very different in their styles, but both heavily reference historical and literary themes. Their work is highly finished and excellently executed and, as with my work, their work has an appearance of age.


Q What music do you listen to?

It’s so diverse, it’s hard to say one thing. The only thing that curbs my listening choice at the moment is my six year old son – we can’t play anything too obscene, and he objects to random noise.

Music has always been a passion, from school, through college, I always had Saturday jobs at independent music stores. My first Full time job was at the British Library National Sound Archive and then, much later, I got to work at Mute, which been responsible for some awesome electronic noise.



Q 3 likes and dislikes?

Likes: Monsters, Pitt Rivers Museum, Lego

Dislikes: “Wonky” craft, Rushing, Doughnuts


Q What do you do to relax?

Go to the studio!


Monday, 7 November 2011

Liam Carey - Merlin Glass



Liam Carey at Work


Q So who is Liam Carey?

A quiet, introvert, eccentric artisan. Non competitive, always liked taking things to pieces to see how it works. Dreamy, passionate and loving!


Q Where in the world are you?

Located at my glassworks in Liskeard, Cornwall, England



Glass Blowing in the Studio


Q When did you decide to become a maker?

At the age of 16, I went to Liskeard Glass and within a week fell in love with the craft and art of glass making. At the age of 21, I took the opportunity to take over the glassworks and renamed it Merlin Glass.


love heart knobs

Love Handles 


Q What made you choose the materials that you work with?

Glass is a fascinating material and difficult to learn, which I was attracted to.


Q What other materials would you like to work in?

I work with other materials namely Metal and Wood; I would like to do more with other metals including Silver.



The Furnace known as The Glory Hole – temperatures can reach up to 1100°C


Q Where do you get your inspiration from?

My designs are made from inspiration, form and nature. Living in Cornwall it is surrounded by rugged coastline which has stimulated my thought provoking process.


Scent Bottles with Stoppers


Q What motivates you?

I like design evolution and the evolution of the making process, assessing it, looking at it and improving it, seeing what evolves and what is not obviously there before you get there.


Chequerboard Door Knobs – Frosted and Clear Glass


Q Do you create your work in a studio base or a home base?

My glassworks is located behind my house, so a big building in the yard!



The Glassworks


Q Crafts in the 21st Century – what does this mean to you?

The internet has the opportunity to reach out and connect with people in a way which has never been seen before. This could provide more opportunities to engage the crafts directly with customers.




Q How do you sell and promote your work?

When I started off the glassworks was open to the public where visitors would come and watch me make and have the opportunity to buy from my shop. When I started making the glass door knobs I closed the public access to the glassworks.

Now I sell my work through our shop, internet, architectural ironmongers, exhibitions and marketing. I have advertised through many different sources and more recently we have become involved in social media and often get asked for editorials. Word of mouth and reputation also has lead to a lot of sales and interest in my work including commissions.


Individually handmade Edwardian style solid glass cupboard knobs.


Q What is your typical working day look like?

If the furnace is on my whole lifestyle revolves around the furnace. I like to make at night, I find it quiet, trancelike and enjoy the flow.


Apple Green


Q What is your working style?

I like to listen to music and then my work time kind of flows. I plan what I am going make and work through, after making so many I have a break and then get back to it.


Millefiore – Decorated with Glass Beads From Murano in Italy


Q 3 words of advice for an aspiring Craft artist/maker...

Believe in yourself, open your eyes and mind to imagine what is not there, don’t be afraid to experiment.


Glass Donut Pendants for Jewellery Making


Q Who is/are your favourite artist(s)/maker(s)?

Picasso and Mary Martin a local landscape artist.


Daisy Door Knobs


Q What music do you listen to?

Boards of Canada, Tinariwen, loved listening to John Peel - RIP, Gotan Project, Air, The Fall, Mazzy Star, PJ Harvey, Nirvana, King Tubby, Augustus Pablo, lots and lots more.....


Decorative Glass Flowers


Q  likes and dislikes?

Likes - Cycling, the weather, mountains, hand painted old cars.

Dislikes – dog poo in the street, aggressive driving, cheap sausages! Horrid plastic windows in beautiful houses.


Flower Vase – Combining Opaque and Transparent Glass


Q What do you do to relax?

A going to the beach, spending time with Darcie rose, swimming, cycling, walking,



Wave –Blown Glass Vase – 10cm high

Friday, 16 September 2011

Shellie Holden

Wall Paper - Mounted Paper Textile Approx. 60 x 115 cm


Q So who is Shellie Holden?

I am an artist/maker, wife and mother brought up in Lancashire, trained originally in embroidery at MMU, Manchester then later at Goldsmiths University, London. I lived in London for 11 years before relocating to Wales two years ago, having been drawn to living by the coast.



Behind Clouds - Framed Paper Textile - 41cm x37cm


Q How did you decide to become a maker?

Naturally progressed from a background steeped in creative and practical endeavours. It seemed the most obvious and fulfilling direction for me to take.


Text Book


Q What made you choose the materials that you work with?

Low cost/low key/reclaimed- freedom they gave to be experimental and non-precious with the opportunity to turn them into something unique and valuable because of the labour and investment of time spent in the making.

Extracted Teeth Book and Neckpiece


Q Are there any other materials you would like to explore and work in?

I have recently been producing a series of laser cut paper textiles and this has led to an interest in working with more precious materials such as silver and copper as this would enable me to produce more robust pieces hat could be used for both interior pieces and body adornment.



Q What are you currently working on

Several projects - one of which involves looking after my new-born! I’m catching moments in-between to work on pieces, including the project described above. I am also completing a piece for the ‘First Anniversary: Paper’ exhibition, 5th May- 31st July 2011, at Unit Twelve, Tixall Heath Farm, Tixal, Stafford, ST18 0XX and also for an exhibition at Newport Art Gallery and Museum, Wales, with Fibre Arts Wales, a textile group that I am affiliated, 30th April - 11th June.


Q Where do get your inspiration from?

Difficult to pinpoint exactly - my surroundings, attitude to life, experiences and chance occurrences. Perhaps something someone has said, or something I have seen that triggers a response or reaction.


Q What motivates you on a cold winter’s day?

Being in my home. I collect and acquire pieces of furniture, objects and textiles which I enjoy refurbishing, restyling and reinventing. This is an on-going project, which I see as part of my creative work. I like the idea that objects can evolve and change, but can also be timeless when mixed with traditional and contemporary styles.

Stitched and Constructed Textile Painting  - Dimensions 92cm x 92 cm each


Q Do you create your work in a studio base or a home base?

I have a studio from home in the loft of our Victorian property. It’s a unique space, which has slanted walls and an original fireplace. I have furnished this with tables and chairs I have acquired over the years, each which has its own story. They just happen to fit perfectly around the edge of the room leaving me a big open space in the middle. I love walking to the top of the staircase and entering the room. It is my sanctuary.

Q What is your working style?

It is very much about collecting and collating, reclaiming and reinventing. I approach my work with an idea, which I then aim to convert into visual objects/pieces through a process of experimentation with materials and techniques.

Q What does a typical day look like?

Varied - Some days/weeks I am able to devote entire periods to the production of new work, which I find deeply gratifying and inspiring. Other times I am distracted by domestic chores, and other projects, which perhaps take me away from the immediate task of making although give me the time and space to process ideas and consider new or different approaches, which are equally valuable to my work as a whole.

Stitched and Constructed Textile Painting 2 - Dimensions 50cm x 40 cm


Q Crafts in the 21st Century – what does this mean to you?

Versatility, vitality, diversity - breaking the rules, revisiting traditional materials and techniques, experimenting with new technology. Less about trying to categorise, more about (effortless) originality.

Q How do you sell and promote your work?

I am a member of CAA, London, Fibre Arts Wales and Textile Forum South West (TFSW). I’ll be showing work at the two exhibitions due to open (mentioned above), and am hoping to sell work directly through my website soon.

Q 3 words of advice for an aspiring Craft artist/maker...

Perseverance, persistence and passion!


Corsages - hand made in fabric or paper. Approx. 10 cm circumference


Q Who is/are your favourite artist(s)/maker(s)?

Wide and varied including photography, sculpture, painting, textiles, mixed media….. Includes Jeff Wall, Cy Trowbly, Sarah Sze, Jonathan Callen, Louise Hopkins, Joseph Cornels….My husband recently brought me an exhibition catalogue featuring photographs by Robert Polidori which I am currently looking at.


Q What music are you listening to at the moment?

Wintermusik by Nils Frahm, The Blue Notebooks by Max Richter, Music for Egon Schiele, by Rachel’s, Found Songs by Olafur Arnalds……


Q What do you do to relax?

Fresh sea air (and a swim in the sea in summer) always helps.


Ordnance survey of England, Kingsbridge and District (third edition) sheet 150, 1908-9 - updated in London 2006 Dimensions and Ordnance survey of England, Cornwall and Devonshire 1919 - updated in London 2006 - Framed Stitched Drawing 75cm x 87cm

Monday, 22 August 2011

apologies from the editor

Dear readers if you are experiencing issues with the images not showing please bear with me. For some unknown reason the images have suddenly disappeared and i am now in the slow process of relocating them and re uploading them - this will take some time to resolve.

My apologies in the meantime and fingers crossed things will return to normal as soon as possible.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Li-Chu Wu


Q So who is Li-Chu Wu ?

Li-Chu is a Taiwanese jewellery designer maker who based in the UK.

Q Where in the world are you from?

I was born in Taipei, Taiwan.



Untitled (Necklace – Paper and Sterling Silver)


Q When did you decide to become a maker?

I trained in Jewellery Design and Making at Fu Jen Catholic University and graduated in 2006, then completed a Masters in Jewellery, Silversmithing and Related Products at Birmingham City University in 2009. I am now working independently as a jewellery designer-maker in Design Space.



Floral (Necklace – Paper)


Q What made you choose the materials that you work with?

Multiple layered paper interests me with its subtle movement and tactile qualities. I aim to recreate the link between the material and its original source in the natural environment and intend to show the values of material itself.



Untitled (Series of Three Bangles – Paper and Sterling Silver


Q What other materials would you like to work in?

Paper, metal(silver, gold), gemstones

Q Where do you get your inspiration from?

Natural forms, processes and movement inspire her to make a collection of paper jewellery.



Landscape II (Three Brooch Series – Paper and Sterling Silver)


Q What motivates you?

People who love my Jewellery, my families and friends.

Q Do you create your work in a studio base or a home base?

Both, I like to work in front of the bench and really enjoy the time while making jewellery. However working with paper needs a tidy place, therefore I always finished the paper part at home before I go into studio for my bench work.

Q Crafts in the 21st Century – what does this mean to you?

Contemporary, chose what you like, make everything possible.



Pebbles (Nine Brooch Series – Paper and Sterling Silver)


Q How do you sell and promote your work?

I sell my work in exhibition, trade/retail fair, on my website - and Esty.

Q What is your typical working day look like?

Get up at 10am, checking e-mail and work on computer, cooking, go to studio, bench work, go home at 6pm, cooking, stay late for the part of paper work, go to bed at 2pm.



Untitled (Ring – Paper and Sterling Silver)


Q What is your working style?

No rules or principles.

I spend a lot of time on exploring the nature, spend a lot of time on thinking and drawing but work efficiently while sitting in front of my bench.



Untitled (Three Rings – Paper and Sterling Silver)


Q 3 words of advice for an aspiring Craft artist/maker...

Be creative, be motivated, and love what you do.

Q Who is/are your favourite artist(s)/maker(s)?

Noriko Ambe

Q What music do you listen to?

Indie music



Blossom II  (Brooch – Paper and Sterling Silver)


Q 3 likes and dislikes?

Likes: Kings of Convenience, chocolate, my little pet

Dislikes: spring onion, things that didn’t go well as I expected, shortage of money



Untitled (Necklace – Paper and Sterling Silver)


Q What do you do to relax?

Go inline skating with my iPod



Grassland (Brooch – Paper and Sterling Silver)