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Fushimi Maki’s Biography

  Born in Yokohama
  Enters Kamakura-Bori Training School. (Trains in carving and lacquering)
  Graduates Kamakura-Bori Training School. Enters Kamakura-bori Hakujitsudo, begins training in carving After two years, commences study in lacquer coating.
  Enter Sato Senro’s Lacquer Ware Studio as an apprentice (Nagano Prefecture, Kiso County). Starts his training by learning how to make daily household lacquer craft wares.
  Establishes his own workshop.
  Awarded Japan Folk Craft Museum, Encouraging Award Holds solo exhibitions in Saitama Prefecture, Kumagaya-shi, and in Tokyo metropolitan area.
  Moves his studio to Kanagawa Prefecture, Hayama-machi
  Various solo exhibitions in Tokyo metropolitan area Fushimi

(Fushimi working in his studio)

Maki’s Spoons and Forks

As handmadejapan.com wishes to cover more in depth and share the beauty found in the world surrounding bamboo craft, this feature will present his bamboo spoons and forks. We will introduce total 9 types. Spoons and forks used for pasta and curry, soup, dessert, salad, etc. They all vary in size. Each piece is exquisite with the lacquer blending harmoniously with the bamboo core. Among the “bread-and-butter” works, his bamboo series are actually one of his favorite personal hobby-like creations. These pieces created with his distinctive unpretentious air are so attractive that one can not resist from reaching out to hold them in one’s hand and try to touch with his lips.

"Beauties" created by the artist’s magical hands

You can definitely see his professional skill in the carvings. By accumulating knowledge through experience working with bamboo, he is able to understand more in depth, the quality of the bamboo. He aims to create each piece bringing out the best of the bamboo. He takes no shortcut, and his dedication can be seen in the full-fledged process of making these spoon and forks with seven layers of coatings. Now let’s take a look at the process.

(photo 3 -The patterns are traced alternately, finding the best position for the nodes as accents)

(photo 4-Before the spoon is cut into shape, the spoons curve must be carved out to fully exert his energy, he explains.)

(photo 5-A tool is an extension of a person's hand. Arranging various ingenious personal tools is part of a craftsmans work.)

(photo 6- The holes are where the forks will be trimmed)

First, a very thick, moso-chiku bamboo is obtained from the bamboo yard. The bamboo is left to dry naturally for a period of time. Next, on the bamboo’s curved surface, the shape of a spoon is traced from a pattern paper. Very carefully, small slits are made into the bamboo with a saw. The firmness of bamboo sheath and the flesh is totally different. The outer layer is extremely hard, and the blade quickly becomes dull. On the other hand, the inside can be easily carved with a carving knife, or chisel.

After the bamboo is split into individual pieces, the process of chiseling the curve (concave) of the spoon follows. After much trial and error, the method he has contrived is to make several small diagonal cuts along the surface. Carving the hard surface, with just the strength of his fingers, will not only make the sharp blades become dull quickly, his thumb will result in suffering with arthritis. The small cuts on the surface, facilitates making precise incisions with the blade. Gradually removing the outer layer, the spoon curves are made to 1.5mm to 2.0mm thickness.

Following, is the trimming away of the excess bamboo with a small handsaw. Finally, the bamboo begins to assume the shape of a spoon. The rest is a long painstaking process of gradually carving out with a chisel, working with his sensitive fingers as his guide. Next, the protruding (convex) surface of the spoon curve is meticulously sanded. It is not possible to sand the concave surface of the curve. To avoid any bumps visible with the lacquer coating, the irregularities of the surface must be carefully smoothed over with the chisel.

Rather than leaving rough rugged cuts or bold primitive finishes, he chooses to carve until he is satisfied with the exact precision and elegance. Because bamboo is rather a simple and unsophisticated material, he places much energy to finish each piece to perfection. His attention to the details is incredible. The artists concern definitely goes beyond many. He carefully calculates the size and the smoothness of the spoon, as it touches against one’s sensitive lips. The distinctive smooth touch of the lacquer, and the subtle curve of the spoon, should flatter the food carried into one’s mouth. He finds many utensils today are focused on modern shapes and form. Unfortunately, they are often not very comfortable when eating, moreover, it makes the person look extremely unattractive when eating. Yes, his concern goes to that extent.

A lacquer-coated ladle and spoon have been made since early times. However, this is the first time I have ever seen a lacquered fork. They are not at all delicate as the tiny forks for Japanese confectioneries. On the contrary, they are very sturdy forks that you can actually pick fresh cucumbers in your salads, or twirl pasta from your plate. The idea that you can use this fork like any other metal forks is so exciting.

The artist works into the late hours of the night, using simple tools, carving away and polishing the agile forks, with the distance sound of the waves from the Shonan beach. The contrast of the smartness of his forks and the long hours and tedious labor just seems incongruous to me. There must be a reward for those who endure repeated manual labor. I can only imagine how immense the sense of fulfillment he must feel.

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Service-plate, dinner-plate, soup plate, salad bowl

Let us also introduce beautiful plates and bowls that matches the bamboo spoons and forks. They too, are “natural beauties”. There are four types: service-plate, dinner-plate, soup plate, and salad bowl. Placing a ceramic plate beneath the urushi plates will create an exquisite presentation, adding even more panache to your table.


Enticing Italian dishes with the vessel

Fushimi’s lacquer ware is a handy utensil that can be used for culinary delights from any nationality. Here we show you delicious dishes prepared by Chef Kojima Masaaki, from the Italian restaurant Aqua Pazza in Minami- Aoyama, Tokyo.

On the service plate the chef has prepared "Bagna Cauda with Season Vegetables". You can see the fine wooden grains through the transparent lacquer.

On the dinner plate is a delicious "Smoked Duck Hamburger Steak with Balsamico Sauce".Of course, any homemade hamburger served on this plate will look sharp and stylish.

In the soup bowl is the tasty "Green Perilla (Japanese Basil) Cold Fedelini Pasta Seasoned With Green Vegetables and Botargo".

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