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At last, I’m back with new instalments from the long-distance sketchbook/notebook collaboration I’ve been working on with my friend Yoko Hayashi.

It’s always a thrilling day here when a MUJI notebook sized package, postmarked Tokyo, lands in my letterbox!

mujinotebook collaboration - post packagaing

In my previous entry (which you can see here) I’d left Yoko with a rather awkward, untidy-back-of-embroidery page to work with…

muji notebook (tokyo) - back-of-embroidery

I was intrigued to see what she’d done with this page. I knew it would be beautiful and inventive, but I wasn’t prepared for just how beautiful – there was actual gasping when I turned the page to reveal Yoko’s most recent entry…

mujinotebook (tokyo) - artwork by yoko hayashi

notebook [tokyo] – detail (artwork by yoko hayashi)

This fine lace-like filigree evokes a constellation of delicate celestial bodies or magical snow crystals.

Although they are painted they have an enticing three-dimensional quality – like real openwork – that makes one want to reach out and touch them.

muji notebook (tokyo) - artwork by yoko hayashi

notebook [tokyo] – double page spread (artwork by yoko hayashi)

The village beneath this constellation (itself, it would seem, born of fallen stars/snow crystals) exudes a peaceful otherworldly calm, and that deep stillness that almost always accompanies abundant snowfall.

muji notebook (tokyo) - artwork by yoko hayashi

notebook [tokyo] – detail (artwork by yoko hayashi)

Soft, substantial snow came to Haarlem a few days after the notebook arrived. Coincidence or enchantment? I favour the latter…

muji notebook (tokyo) - artwork by yoko hayashi

notebook [tokyo] – all artwork by yoko hayashi

notebook [tokyo] denotes the notebook that started its life in Tokyo, and notebook [amsterdam] denotes the notebook that started its life in Amsterdam

The preceding Amsterdam/Tokyo project posts can be found here:
(1) | (2) | (3) | (4) | (5) | (6 – part I) | (6 – part II)

All artwork in this post is copyright yoko hayashi

Thanks very much to all of you who left such positive comments on my previous ‘handmade cards’ post – much appreciated! On the subject of Christmas cards here’s a fab one I received from a friend in Japan. Beautiful festive trees on a handmade card, containing this magnificent beast:

antlers

His design and construction is brilliant in its simplicity (by good morning inc., Japan).

post animal, by good morning inc.

Wishing you all a happy and festive time, until 2009! Thanks for stopping by…

While checking out various toy links late last night (while I probably should’ve been doing something ‘constructive’) I came across the incredible hand-crafted wooden toys of Takeji Nakagawa (via Toytastic).

Aren’t these absolutely mind-boggling beautiful?!

take-g toys

take-g toys

These magnificent toys are created using the Japanese craft process of yosegi-mokuzougan, or joined wooden block construction. Traditionally a two-dimensional craft, Nakagawa has evolved the process to create three-dimensional designs. He uses four types of wood (keyaki, teak, walnut and white ash) and combines these beautifully, with a deep respect for each wood’s unique colour and texture, and for the trees that provide his raw materials.

Takeji Nakagawa on his art:

“I often get asked ‘Why do you make robots with wood?’ I don’t really have an exact answer for it but I often relate my robots with ‘future’. What do you relate future with? Cities full of metals, glasses and plastics in a SF movie??? What we really want is not that kind of future but one full of trees and something more natural. I don’t think humans can live without trees no matter what advances technology makes. When I think of ‘future’, I cannot help thinking of ‘past’ at the same time. Trees take long time (tens and hundreds years) to grow and show us their beauty (the product of their past). I think that I have responsibilities as a craftsman and an artist of breathing new life into these trees. I have a job to link 100 years in the past and 100 years in the future through my work. This is my values toward my work”.

There is an interview with the artist here. The interview is in Japanese and English but unfortunately (if, like me, you don’t read Japanese) the English translation is a little ‘quirky’. But it’s worth checking out for more images of Nakagawa’s incredible work. 

Sadly his wonderful creations are not available outside Japan (apart from his ‘blocks’ and ‘zoo’ toys which he sells online) and he insists potential customers see the work first-hand before purchasing it. Another reason to make a return trip to Japan asap (not that I’m short of reasons :-) 

take-g toys

Images are copyright take-g toys

 

It’s been mighty quiet around here recently as blog updates have taken a backseat to catching up on work – I have wanted to post about Miranda-Jane for weeks and weeks but spare moments have been few and far between. Just before I left London I saw her on Jezze’s blog and rushed over to etsy to snap her up, supplied a still unfamiliar address for delivery, and hoped we’d both arrive safely at our new home.

Miranda-Jane... already speaking Dutch!

We did.

Being from sunny Southern Africa (Cape Town, in fact), and therefore accustomed to much hotter climes, she’s very pleased she brought her socks with her as Amsterdam turns chillier and chillier. She also arrived wearing two of Jezze‘s beautiful handmade button badges – an unexpected and delightful added extra. Thanks Jezze!

Miranda-Jane is a very charming companion and a pleasure to have around. 

Here she is (toasty in socks) trying to persuade me to delve into my crochet bag and get back to work on the Erika Knight throw I started ages ago and have all but abandoned over these past few busy months…

Miranda-Jane, handmade by Jezze

some of my work, available on etsy
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This magic has just started to unfold in the ‘garden’ on our little roof terrace. Methinks spring has most definitely sprung! #spring #lente #blossoms #plum (?) #pink #petals #stamens #delicate #growth #seasons #cycle_of_life #roof_garden #haarlem Dawn colours #dawn #silhouette #dome #cathedral #kathedralebasilieksintbavo #studio_view #rooftops #haarlem Dressing W-A-Y out of my comfort zone for the “glitter and glamour” themed wedding party of friends tonight. Gulp… they say it’s good to step outside one’s comfort zone now and then, right?! #shimmery #sequins #glitter #festive #ottodame #not_black #colour #pattern #texture This is Henk... just one of the many good reasons to go and get your hair cut @jill_and_sisi (Admiraal de Ruijterweg 221, Amsterdam) #henk #puppy #dog #super_soft #super_cute #jill_and_sisi #pattern #sunshine Full moon rises over the silver hills… (or, much more prosaically, simply a sleeping cat and the negative shapes left behind on a spray painting ‘drop cloth’ :) #magic_in_the_mundane #cat #fur #silver #grey #black #monochromatic #pattern #shape #spraypaint The bike lane… #symbol #icon #infographic #design #bicycle #emblematic #netherlands #bicycle_culture #cycling_infrastructure #ride_on

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