Maiko Okuno, a Japanese woodworker

Published on August 3, 2015

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Maiko Okuno is a Japanese lacquer artist and woodworker who produces a mixture of functional objects at her studio in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan.

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Each item is made by hand, with the process starting on the lathe where she turns a rough shape out of wood. Depending on the desired article she may also use chisels and knives to get the desired shape, lastly adding lacquer in layers to protect and preserve the wood.

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Maiko Okuno’s philosophy is to “create something that can be cherished for life”. Her inspiration came when attending an exhibition showcasing the work of famous lacquer artist Ryozo Kawakita, a director of the Japan Craft Asso­ci­a­tion and a Liv­ing National Trea­sure of Japan. In 2005 she went on to set up her own studio in Ishikawa Prefecture, where she is now at a point of high quality construction and craftsmanship.

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One interesting thing about Maiko’s work is the elaborate and often complex shapes that she’s able to produce by hand. This, in combination with the smooth and often undecorated surface, leads to a contemporary set of vessels that offer a twist on such a traditional craft. As you will see here, not only does she make angular forms, she also produces teardrop shapes and curved vessels that are very fine and detailed.

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In such simple items “detail” can sometimes be lacking, but it exists here in subtle ways unseen from afar, such as how the lids on the vessel connect or how the small plates ebb and flow to represent the living nature of the wood. This just highlights the true skill in the work. Thanks to talented Japanese photographer Shigekazu Shinya OEN has been able to document and capture inside her workshop, hopefully showcasing some of the skills in which it takes to produce such beautiful forms.

You can check out and buy the full range by Maiko Okuno here.

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