A bowl made by Hanako Nakazato is so succulent that the clay seems as though it is still pliable.
“I try to bring out the natural beauty of the clay and glaze”, says Hanako. She finds that the beauty of clay is in its unique plasticity, receptive to the slightest pressure from the fingertips. That characteristic of clay is masterfully brought out in her works. It is hard to resist the urge to pick it up and hold it in your hands.
And pick it up you should because Hanako creates wares that are intended for regular use. “A ware’s significance is only complete when it is used” she explains. “The same ware will manifest different expressions depending on the food it carries. I want people to enjoy that variation.”
Among the assortment of plates and bowls in the cabinet at home, a select handful keep getting used over and over to serve different kinds of foods. They are chosen because the cook can visualize how well the food fits with the vessel. Hanako’s creations easily trigger such visualizations. The Shinogi sobachoko, for example, is ideal for serving appetizers, soups, ice cream, and many more dishes.
Hanako wants her wares to be used often and for many years by their owners. She explains that the key to making such wares is to keep a neutral mind and to “go with the flow” during the production process. Too much planning, eagerness, and intent by the potter will result in works that suffocate and bore people over time. Hanako never measures her wares as she throws.
Hanako can only pull off such a feat because she is an extremely skilled potter. She is from the Nakazato lineage of potters that have been throwing pottery for 14 generations in Karatsu, Saga Prefecture, Japan. Refined expertise can only come through rigorous study and learning from the best, and Hanako went through many years of tough apprenticeships under her father, renowned potter Takashi Nakazato, and also Malcolm Wright in Vermont, a student of Tarouemon Nakazato XII, Hanako’s grandfather who was designated as a living national treasure by the Japanese government in 1976.
Hanako’s unique approach is also shaped by the way that she is able to harmonize and find balance between the dual worlds that she inhabits. Born and brought up in Japan, Hanako went to high school in Florida and subsequently studied Art at Smith College in Massachusetts before returning to Japan to apprentice with her father.
This bicultural potter has expertly synthesized the deep traditions of the Nakazato heritage with her own modern American interpretations and experiences. Hanako now spends half of her time in Japan and the other half in her studio in Union, Maine.
Select wares made by Hanako Nakazato and Monohanako West is available at our shop.
Read more about Hanako Nakazato here.