Friday, October 19, 2012

Crafting at Fureai Park...

If you've been following this blog, you know I have been taking trips with the Cultural Adaptation Program here on MCAS Iwakuni. It's a great program and really lets you see what is available to do in the area. Today we went to Fureai Park in Yuu, a city about 25km away from base. Fureai Park is a nature center up in the mountains surrounding Iwakuni. The leaves are just starting to turn here and it was a gorgeous day, so the views were incredible. We didn't spend much time outside though... we were inside the craft center, creating pottery and replicas of ancient beads called magatama.

First we worked with clay to make a decorative plate. Japanese pottery first emerged during the Neolithic era, called the Jomon period, between 10,000 and 300 B.C. The type of pottery we replicated is called Wabi Sabi, which means rustic simplicity and peacefulness that comes with age. Faults, such as cracks or chips, are considered special traits of that piece and make it more interesting. It also makes up budding artists feel better when our plates aren't perfect!

So each of us started out with a lump of clay:

Eventually, with a rolling pin stick and two ruler-like sticks, I got it in to the shape of the leaf plate that was one of our options for design. We were told to put our names on the bottom so they could be identified later. I added a few details, but did not realize I had spelled the name of the city wrong until the drive home and I saw Yuu on a road sign.

We then flipped the plate over and decorate the top side. I used a comb-like tool and a heart-shaped petal stamp to create mine with texture and cherry blossoms:

As a group we had to choose a glaze color... most of the group did leaves, so the group chose green (I did not argue...) and they will be fired in "One of the Six Old Kilns" in Japan, remains of old 700- and 800-year-old kilns from the Shigaraki region, where pottery is famous because the clay in the region is great for it.

We took a lunch break where we ate rice and curry, and then sat outside to enjoy the sunshine and views.

After lunch, we moved on to craft #2, magatama beads. We each made one bead as a pendant, out of talc stone. This rock is what talcum powder is made from and is incredibly soft, yet not brittle. The beads are curved shaped, either like a kidney bean, or sharpened at ope end to look like a yin or yang. They were worn by ruling elites during the Neolithic period,m until the 7th century to ward off evil spirits. Once the Japanese adopted the Buddhist religion, these beads were no longer worn.

For the project, we were handed a file and a roughly cut out piece of talc with an outline of the magatama shape.

We then filed for an hour, creating small piles of talk powder, which I scooped up and put in a Ziploc baggie one of the other tourists had. I will use it when I want to de-sticky something when I scrapbook. I currently use baby power, since it is cheap and easy to find, but then my albums smell like a baby;s butt, and that's not always the impression I am going for.

The bottom of the bead starts to take shape:

The final steps were to smooth the bead with graduated degrees of course to fine sandpaper.

Fureai Park also caters to kids... we shared our room with some 4-year-olds and their parents. They made a pottery cup and some stick figures made out of leaves, acorns and sticks they found when walking the nature trail. So, I took a photo of their information because it might be something fun for me to take the kids to. And I thought the fax tittle was funny.

Me wearing my magatama pendant:

No comments: