NAOKO HATA CERAMICS

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Naoko Hata, a ceramic artist from Suzuka City, Mie Prefecture, describes herself as a "glaze maniac".

While her works are made using traditional techniques, the textures and colors created by her unique glazes are eye-catching. The expression that changes dramatically from motif to motif is also appealing. We interviewed Ms. Hata, who says she is fascinated by glaze and plaster. 

A girl who loves art and fashion jumped into the world of pottery

My family was a farmer in a very rural area, and when I was a child, my mother, who loved art, always took me out to art museums on weekends. I always loved drawing, making things, and just working with my hands, so I decided to go to an art college. I liked fashion and design very much, but in the end I wanted to touch clay, so I went on to study ceramics at Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts.
After graduating from graduate school, she set up a kiln in the corner of her house with the money she saved from her part-time job, and spent her days working as an assistant at a pottery studio in Yokkaichi, famous for Banko-yaki.
I didn't have much of a design perspective, thinking that something like this would be cool and easy to use. Most of my work comes from the idea of "expressing my ideal world" in the same way as if I were drawing a picture. One such example is the "Chain dish" that I created when I was at the University of Arts. I imagined a scene where humans and animals eat together in a forest.

"Chain dish" series

The charm of glazes, which have no right answer, changes with each milligram.

What is most impressive about Hata's work is the variable texture and coloring that varies depending on the glaze. The expression of the glaze after firing can be changed just by changing the recipe in milligram increments. And since you can't see the glaze until you open the kiln, you don't know how it will look. That is why she researches the colors and textures she want to produce with test pieces every day.

More than a thousand glazes Hata has developed

Hata has been fascinated by the charm of glazes, for which there is no right answer, since she was a student. For a potter, mixing glazes is like a cook searching for his or her own recipe. Researching glazes is still part of her life's work.

 

Even the most humble production process is enjoyable to me.

Along with glazes, Hata is also fascinated with plaster. She says that potters generally hire other companies to make plaster molds for their pottery, but she also has a sense of beauty in making plaster molds.

When I was at art college, there was a Korean student who made really beautiful plaster molds. Everyone had their plaster molds prepared to some degree, but when she put them in the dryer, I was shocked by the beauty of her plaster molds, down to the smallest detail. I wanted to make plaster molds like that, so I started learning how to make plaster molds from her, and that is how I became interested in plaster.
There was another craftsman at a local studio who made beautiful plaster molds by hand, and I was fascinated by his handiwork that could be finished without the use of machines. 

Plaster molds

Plaster making, which determines the shape of the work, is a repetitive process of subtle form adjustments that cannot be explained in words. The plaster molds are re-sculpted many times. Even now that I am getting used to it, I still have to reshape the prototype for a new piece four times.

I spend a lot of time searching for the best way to make a better mold. If I feel that the form is not quite right, I shave it down, pour it again, and repeat. Sometimes I display them in places where I can see them, such as the entrance to the workshop or in the kitchen, and try to look at them objectively and explore any sense of discomfort. I enjoy everything about making, even if it is such a seemingly simple process.

Hata says she is conscious of not getting bored with herself.

I am happy when I finish an ideal mold, and that is why I enjoy it. I try to enjoy myself in every step of the process, including plaster making.

Making a prototype of a plate on the wheel

Continuing to make things you want to keep by your side

The works created by Hata with her unique sensitivity brighten up the dining table and daily life.
They are really simple, but I want to make things that people want to keep by their side and that are fun to use. I want them to be a part of trivial everyday scenes, such as "I can do my best today because my morning coffee tastes so good.
The mealtimes that we take for granted every day become a little more enjoyable and lovely than usual.

Hata's works make us feel the invisible energy of the dishes.

 

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