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"The third generation Tomi - a quiet artist"

Kazuyuki Tomi, is not talkative and very quiet in nature. Her mother Kyomi, comments "I would like to see him show more enthusiasm towards his work...” but he does not seem to be bothered by his mother's words...he continues to keep his own peaceful pace. He is challenging himself to cut his own path, to find something different from his mother and grandfather. The materials he uses, are wild Kozo, wild mulberry trees growing in the mountains behind their paper mill. "After boiling, then beating to "loosen" the durable fibers they begin to expand. You can then widen the fibers by flattening them out with your fingers", he explains. "This is very similar to the tapa cloth, created from long ago, by the people on the Polynesian islands. It was when I learned about this characteristic of the fiber, that I discovered my course", he comments. The wild Kozo's raw fibers are stiff and durable. The tough wild Kozo make the process to prepare paper stock very tedious. Kazuyuki's idea came from looking at it from the other end. It was his artistic mind, that brought him to find a method to develop the characteristic of the fiber to it’s fullest.

 
 

The frames of his lamp are like washed up logs, battered and bleached like bones, beaten by the fierce Japan Sea waves. The light passing through the plant fibers and the frames are soft, and the intensity becomes gentle and comfortable. It's gentle illumination coordinates well with today's modern interior. Another of his work, is a lampshade that assembles numerous irregular bamboo branches’ tips. It is a dome made of washi paper and bamboo. At first it looks very simply to make. But I was surprised as I listened to him explain each meticulous step that requires careful attention. Nowadays we do see many lighting fixtures made with washi paper and bamboo, but this lampshade is somewhat different. He utilizes the elasticity found in the very tip of bamboo trees. The approach to skillfully apply the elasticity of the bamboo to the lampshades is absolutely novel. Both lampshades are handmade works, which can only be made when the artist collects enough stock. He will not work with materials he is not satisfied with. Therefore, they are not suitable as sales item. However, they are exquisite pieces of work I would like to introduce to the public that cherishes a one of a kind original piece.

     
 

How are Kazuyuki's lampshades made?

Let us now see how the lampshades are made. The materials used are natural wild plants found locally. Dye made from boiled chestnut burs collected from the woods is applied to the wild Kozo paper with a brush. The best word to describe the finished lamp may be “ethereal”. They look so light that they would float away with the slightest current of air. They are handmade lampshades that are refreshing as the early spring breeze.

 

  30-cm diameter frame made of bamboo
  Calculating ample lengths of the bamboo to serve as the legs of the lamp, the bamboo strips are laid and tied piece by piece with Kozo fibers strips to form a dome.
  Washi paper, dyed gray (with boiled chestnut burs), are piece by piece glued on to the frame.
  The finished dome.
  The soft colors of washi dome light.

The photographs were taken by the photographer, Katsuhiko, for the quarterly magazine "Ginka" vol. 84. They have been used here with the permission of the publisher and photographer. We are grateful for their kindness.

 


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