My shop is now open!
After much Japlanning I have had the most epic 2 month travel trip researching paper making, moku hanga ukiyo-e, indigo dying and the production of silk. I started in Tokyo which was like falling into some 50’s vision of the future and I was most inspired by getting lost in this Empire of Signs - neon lights, bold text, three dimensional structures that interrupt streets and intersect with thousands of electric cables. Quiet cars creep like eels edging in and an out of underground garages in the built up backstreets of Shibuya. Weird and wonderful food, runs through rainy parks, and meeting up with old friends in whiskey bars on the 19th floor of buildings.
Osaka was grittier where Tokyo was manicured, it is louder, smokier, smellier. No sumo wrestling for me despite 4am wake up calls to join the throngs of people trying to get last minute tickets on the door. I got flu and was feeling pretty sorry for myself, resorted to sketching and city hopping to Kyoto and Nara. I found some weird little hostels and spoke to some people that lead me on a whirlwind walking tour of Mt Koyasan in the snow. I loved the peace of the mountains so much that I went on to Wakayama, despite having no hiking gear, and broke up long walks with longer soaks in the natural onsen towns en route.
Then city hopped my way to Kurashiki for some kimono shopping, Naoshima for ART, Hiroshima for history, and Fukuoka just because. Met my parents along the way! I had an unexpectedly magical time on Kyushu, staying at a Ryokan which was NUTS after hostel hopping, then another sojourn back in the mountains staying at the Sky Tea Farm with Jiro, drinking tea (no surprise there), eating the neighbours honey, walking through bamboo forests….Then went on to ONTA for some research into the pottery of the area- walking in the steps of Bernard Leach. Had an amazing day sketching potters and buying their wares, eating udon and drinking more tea as per. Discovered a chocolate bar called Black Thunder which rocked my world after a month of eating pickles and strangely slimy Japanese deserts.
A shout out to Hiro and her cutest of family members for showing us around Usuki, CHERRY BLOSSOM IN FULL BLOOM and we had a pretty epic few days of hanami.
I managed to get away from city life and find some subtropical calm whilst hopping around the Yaeyama archipelago, drawing water buffalo and equally big bottomed tourists bobbing in the shallows of some of the most beautiful seas i’ve ever seen. The highlight was a walk into the jungles on Iriomote and finding fireflies like I’ve never seen before - like being in the centre of a silent paparazzi storm.
Back toward mainland Japan I had an incredible day learning to make Japanese washi at Awagami Paper Making factory on Shikoku near Tokushima prefecture. I completely fell in love with the process of making giant sheets of paper. I will never forget the fermenting smell of the sails of dyed indigo paper hung up around me and the sound of sloshing as waves of pulp were levelled in their large frames. Shodoshima stole my heart. I spent sunny days here sketching fugu and soy sauce factories, eating soy sauce ice cream, and adding soy sauce to everything else.
Finally made a trip up to Nagano to visit some old friends from Sweden and explored the Japanese Alps from the backseat with their kid Leo, half watching pokemon and half looking out for elusive views of Mount FUJI. We had flicka hanami and went looking for silk worms. The production of silk is like watching people make clothes from fairies hair - magical folklore come to life. NATURE IS MENTAL.
I have sketched most of my way, check out my instagram page (@harriet.bruce) for more updates.
This book project explores the act of ‘emergence’ in both theme and function. I wanted to negotiate the book as an object that binds something within it, so I chose to focus on creatures that are caged or cocooned in their own bodies. By opening the books the reader forces a maguey plant, a human body, and a periodical cicada to qUiTe LitErALLy break out of the book 📚
These bespoke pop up books are illustrated with my own relief prints and stamps, and bound with the help and expertise of Manuel Mazzotti. It still blows my mind what that man can do with a simple piece of paper and a bone folder tool.
If you would like to know more about the book and how to get your hands on one of this limited edition then please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
So happy to have been a finalist in the 2018 Liberty Stores competition with my hand stamped design ‘tyger tyger’ - pipped to the post this time by some amazing designs but THANK YOU everyone who voted for me. More of this to come next year!
I am moving to London having just finished a print internship with Damn Fine Print, Dublin and a degree at Trinity College Dublin -so many more damn fine prints now to be made in the big shmoke! WaTcH tHiS SpAcE...