When Colorado potter Kazu Oba and his wife Yuka visited San Diego to install his show at the Japanese Friendship Garden in November 2017, I invited them to stay at my house. For a few nights, we shared simple meals using some good pots and talked about pots. It was great fun. One night, he told a story that stuck with me that I would like to share.
Kazu belonged to a potter’s group in Colorado several years earlier, and one night he attended one of its gatherings. “When I arrived, there were drinks served in plastic cups and paper plates for the food. I was so shocked and I said, come on, we’re potters!” Kazu said. Several people explained that they used these disposable wares because they didn’t want to create a burden for someone to wash up afterwards. So Kazu offered to be the dishwasher. They further responded that there was nowhere to store the plates and cups. “I said, if we can’t even bother to use what we make, then who would?” So Kazu left the group.
Kazu became a potter because he worked in a restaurant as a cook for many years but wasn’t satisfied with the vessels that were commercially available. So apart from making pots to sell, he creates vessels for restaurants, such as Ramen Star in Denver. The owner of Ramen Star, Takashi Tamai, is equally passionate about the quality of the Ramen he serves. If you are an ardent chef considering handmade pots for use at your restaurant, Kazu would be perfect for you.
I focus on finding well-made handcrafted items for use at Entoten, because when people understand the intrinsic value of crafts, a distinctive taste is developed that will strengthen the Crafts Culture. This culture is about being thoughtful of a lot of things: our history, traditions, quality of life, environment, sustainability, and spirituality to name a few. But Crafts Culture is not built by crafts people alone. We the users also bring our passion, knowledge, and experience to infuse into their values.
When I think about Kazu’s infamous plastic cups and paper plates episode, I chuckle because it must have created quite a stir among the potters. Kazu said a few agreed with him. But I also feel lucky to be able to work with Kazu who is so passionate about making and using handmade pots. By doing so, he is playing an invaluable part in nurturing the culture of caring.
Kazu Oba is having a Summer Sale by appointment from August 30-Sept 6, 2020 at his studio in Lafayette, Colorado.