Tomoko Fukahori

Tomoko Fukahori
1977 Born in Kumamoto , Japan.
2003 Graduated from Okinawa Prefectural University of the Arts , craft

Interview with Tomoko

Q1. Why did you start making these unique cups?

A1. In the ceramics department at university, there was an environment where I could make whatever I liked freely, so I started making different works of art. When I graduated and started working professionally, I thought I had to make practical vessels. However, I felt that there was a limit to pursuing originality with practical pieces. I felt I wasn’t cut out for the work of a so-called “craftsperson” who makes a number of things with the exact same shape. The first step was to try to make the cup handles in the shape of a ladder. It was the result of searching for things I could do, that only I could do

Q2. How do you decide the ideas for your work? Where do they come from?

A2. At first, I made slightly abstract shapes based on things I saw in my dreams. Bit by bit I make more definite shapes, and now things I see in encyclopedias and books or if I’m hungry, food all give me ideas. There are various catalysts, but I always start with the handle. From there I’ll draw a design on the cup that’s something like a title or connected to the theme. There is no specific story, but I think the viewer will feel as if they are looking at a pop-up picture book.

Q3. I think it’s convenient to describe them as cute, but personally I feel their charm is that they’re not saccharine. Are you conscious of that?

A3. Actually, I’m a person quite removed from fairy tales, and I’m more attracted to the creepy and grotesque, so the balance you mentioned is more from trying not to put too much of that into my works. Also, artists who draw pictures in glaze color on their various ceramics generally finish it with an on-glaze (a method of applying color after the glost firing), but in my case I apply all my color with glaze. That’s why there is a subtle color ― you might say a dull color ― which keeps it from getting saccharine.

Q4. It’s not very common to color with glaze, is it?

A4. When applying glaze, it’s very common to just soak the whole piece in it, but I add it one color at a time by brush. It’s really hard work, and very easy to peel off or crinkle, so I get butterflies in my stomach every time because I never know how it will turn out after firing. There are a lot of failures though, so it’s hard and there are times I wonder why I do it. On the other hand, I believe that some works can only be created through a process of hard work rather than technique, so I think these are one-of-a-kind things.

Q5. What kind of people buy them?

A5. There are people who are kind enough to buy them eagerly like collectors. I personally also love the idea of arranging works to make a scene, so I'm conscious about making things that are fun to collect. For example, when I repeatedly make something with the same motif, I can change the shape a little or change the color of the inside of the cup. In doing so, some people will graciously collect them as a series. It takes a lot of time and effort to make the insides different colors, but their cuteness when lined up is completely different, so it’s something I’m not willing to change.

Q6. Why do you think your works are so loved?

A6. For me it’s a process of elimination. I think it’s the result of doing that which I am capable of doing, and I think that my own human nature has made the works the way they are. I am fortunate and grateful that there are people who happen to like them and that I am able to continue making them.