De Raquel Manuela

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Maker: Wakako Senda

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Meet Wakako Senda, a brilliant ceramist from Okayama, Japan. Her works are minimal, elegant and rustic all at once. They evoke the sentiments of someone who loves food and loves sharing what she makes with her loved ones. Read about how her passion for food inspired her to start making pottery and launch her business:

What inspired you to start working with ceramics?

I touched clay for the first time at a pottery class of university. After graduation, I started working at a broadcasting station and was in charge of cooking shows. It led me to enjoy cooking more and I started to feel like making tableware as well by myself, which eventually brought me into pottery.

Tell us about your artistic background and education. 

I graduated from Okayama University, Faculty of Education. I completed the curriculum of high school education of arts and crafts. While majoring in visual design and making the graduation work with photography and silk screen method, I enthusiastically took classes of pottery and woodwork.

What inspired you to start your Etsy Business? 

I was recommended by my buyer. In Japan, there are numerous varieties of vessels and a large number of potters with an established market for them. So I thought it could be a challenge for me to see if my works would be appreciated outside Japan.

What is your work space like? 

I’m sharing one room of my house as a work place and a kiln with my friend. We open our studio for pottery classes twice a week.

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What is your creative process like? How do you choose your materials and decide what a piece will look like?

I settle the schedule first and spend four to eight weeks preparing for exhibitions and other events. The first half period is spent mostly for molding and keeping pieces in stock. I make ordered pieces in the meantime. During the latter half of the time, biscuit firing, glazing and glost firing are all done.

 Once I get the picture of what I want to make, I try out blending of the glaze and combination with clay several times to approach more close to my desired texture. I use about four kinds of clay. Sometimes I start with no plans and it works out well with combinations never tested before. 

Who are your favorite artists? 

My favorite potter is Lucie Rie. I like her so much that I even cuddle up with her book. By “duplicating” her works, I feel I can trace her process of creation and gain a lot from it.

 As for painters, I like Giorgio Morandi. I wish my vessels have the atmosphere like still lifes in his paintings.

What are your favorite galleries or museums to visit? 

My favorite museum is Okayama Orient Museum in my hometown, one of the few oriental art museums in Japan. I find it such a pleasure to enjoy its great collection in a provincial city of Japan. It is a peaceful and tranquil place.

Ohara Museum of Art in nearby Kurashiki city also boasts great collection and entrance though always busy with lots of tourists. 

Though not museums, I also like temples and shrines and their collections in Kyoto and Nara.

Thank you Wakako for sharing your story and lovely photos. 

You can purchase Wakako Senda's pottery on Etsy. Visit her website and follow her on Tumblr and Pinterest