Seven years after having moved in, friends coming over are still asking us when the loft will be finished… Whilst I definitely don’t want lots of stuff, winter drawing in made me want to add some furniture and furnishings.

I’m really happy with our new reading light from Lumina and the woven carpet and the cork trivet from the Ilse Crawford Sinnerlig range (designed for Ikea).  Still haven’t found any art I really like so instead, I’ve put the Obus vase, from our ICO range on a plywood base.

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Living in rented accomodation and moving across continents (twice!) meant we never had a lot of plates or other breakables as it was just easier to buy everything new locally.   I’m now slowly building our crockery collection having chosen the beautifully pure and simple Pieter Stockmans plates from Serax.  The plates are glazed on the top but onglazed on the back which makes for a beautiful contrast.  Now available in the Joy of Little Things shop here.

PS I also have my eye on their beautiful marble presentation platters I saw during their recent open days but being the new collection, they won’t be available until later this year though… just in time for my birthday…

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The joy of little things shop is almost completely sold out of the Tomii Takashi wood objects.  This Japanese woodworker is considered one of the best in his field and – outside Japan – only sells through a gallery in Canada.  These functional yet beautiful objects are hand carved in Kyoto from wood that Takashi hand selects and finished with oil or lacquer.

I only have two of the black walnut cups left.  These are originally coffee cups but could equally be used to serve nuts or keep small items such as jewellery safe.  The urushi lacquer finish really makes the wood shine.  There are also a few cherrywood spoons left, finished with a black urushi lacquer.  The smaller spoon was originally designed by Tomii for feeding his daughter when she was a baby but is also great for condiments such as mustard or preserves.  The medium spoon is the perfect size for eating yoghurt.

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I am incredibly excited to be able to offer you the beautiful wood spoons, bowls and cups by Tomii Takashi in my online shop.  This Japanese woodworker is considered one of the best in his field and – outside Japan – only sells through a gallery in Canada.  Influenced by a stay in Oregon, US where forestry was the key industry, Tomii started carving kitchen tools such as butter knives, spatulas and spoons from twigs he gathered in the hills.  Since 2008, Tomii moved to Shigaraki and started creating wooden tableware for daily use in his workshop in Kyoto. All of his pieces are still hand tooled or turned on a lathe into very simple and beautiful shapes.

Tomii lives with his wife, Miyuki who helps with his work,  a daughter and a son. They are enjoying their everyday lives surrounded by nature which is clearly reflected in the simple, functional tools that he creates. I was very interested to hear his view on his work as an artisan, you can read our exchange below.

 

1. A lot of the objects you design are made using traditional techniques. Why is this important to you?

 

This is just what I design cannot be made only by machines.   Of course I use several kinds of woodworking machines, but it is still essential to use hand tools to make them so I have to stick to traditional techniques.

 

2. What is a typical day like for you?

I usually get up at 5 in the morning and as soon as getting up I start woodworking or urushi lacquering at home until breakfast.  By 9, I am at the workshop about 8km away from home and work until 8 in the evening. I get back home and enjoy playing with kids and having dinner. I often work after dinner until 11. So this means that I am always making things and thinking about what to make! I love eating and drinking so what I make is all for a wonderful meal with wonderful tableware. There is no boundary between work and everyday life. Everything happens in my life is embedded in myself, which eventually produces my work.

 

3. How did you get interested in working with wood?

We have so many species of trees in Japan and traditionally wood is used everywhere. It is very natural to use a material like wood because trees are just about everywhere. I feel very comfortable when surrounded by wooden products in wooden house, that is what I like about wood. The first time I got interested in working with wood is when I came back to Japan after 1 year stay in Oregon, USA where I saw many many huge trees and logs. I started making kitchen tools such as butter knives as soon as I came back. I would like my design to be beautiful so I try to select the best suited wood for a single design. Sometimes I select the wood first and think of what to make. Each design has at least one function, so selecting the best wood for the function is also very important.

The quality of wood I use is not that precious because I want to use quite ordinary wood for my happy happy life.  Of course I also love precious wood with the most beautiful grain, but it is too much for my everyday life. Mostly I use domestic wood like cherry, chestnut, oak, birch, and so on. The exceptions are American black walnut, cherry, etc…

 

 

4. Can you tell us about the different finishes you use?

 

I usually use three types of finish. One is oil+bee’s wax finish. You can maintain the bowl by coating it with natural oil by yourself. Another is urushi finish. Urushi is definitely one of the most beautiful and durable finish one can achieve in nature. The other is what I call “kaikou” finish which I use for certain trays. In “kaikou” finish, a workpiece is dyed with ash and polished with rice bran, which gives calm texture and quiet natural gloss. Polishing floors and posts with rice bran was very common in the old days in Japan.

 

5. Which is the favorite from all the pieces you have made so far?

 

Actually I love all the pieces I make now. So the favorite pieces are everything because I make what I want and need!

 

6. How long does it take to make for example a coffee cup?

 

I first cut a board in to rough shape and roughly hollow the block out. I have to wait for weeks until the block is ready for finish turning on the lathe. Once I finish woodworking processes, I lacquer the cup several times. I usually need to wait for a day to overglaze and a cup has inside and outside, so at least it takes 10 days to finally finish it

 

7. In Europe, Japan is on one hand know as a very high tech society. Yet from Japan also come the most beautiful traditionally made objects. Why do you think that is?

 

Japan has become a high tech society only for 30-40 years or so… Very short period of time I guess and the position could be easily taken over by another high tech society (Now South Korea looks more high tech!). On the other hand tradition is always tradition. After WWⅡ, Japanese people dedicated themselves to hard working to recover their lives and since we do not have rich natural resources in this country, we had to find a way in the high tech field.

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I received a lovely note in the mail from the Kinfolk team to announce the launch of their new brand Ouur, a line of ready-to-wear apparel.  They wrote ‘Like Kinfolk, the Ouur collection will promote values of comfort, utility and simple living.’  The range will be launched in Japan this spring, then in the US in August later this year.  Check out their website for lovely linen items with evocative names such as Linen Barista Button Apron, Linen Saturday Dress, and Linen Foraging Blouse.  My favourite? The Linen Pouch would make a great bag on the go!

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This beautiful teapot and sugar tongs from Analogue Life just make me want to stay at home and drink tea all day….

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At the Maison & Objet tradefair in Paris last Friday I finally had the chance to see, touch and feel the Sfera objects in real life.  I have long been coveting pretty much their whole range but my favourites are definitely the cute cups and pitcher you see above.  Followed closely by the Kaikado tea canisters.  They are made out of tin, copper or brass and change colour with time and use.  I am seriously thinking about adding these canisters to my webshop just so I can gift one to myself. I mean now that I buy my tea at Qualitea time, I need to be able to store it properly right?

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