|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.