Sunday, 20 April 2014

New Studio, Kitchen and Bath...


Hibernation held me deep in it's warm arms through January.  Sleeping in every morning and going to bed early.  (Recovering from a long and fun year.) In late January it was time to turn 50.  A few days after that was over, I got up one morning  and shook the grog from my head. There was enough work to do preparing for visitors in March and the spring workshops starting in April. More than enough work to do. In fact.... way too much work.

Ignoring the realities of limited hours in a day, three construction projects erupted at one time.

The old clay storehouse that sits beside the house had a load of rotten tatamis stacked behind it and all kinds of old wood and junk that was stacked neatly but with no real future. Yucky place. Ignored for twenty years.


A few months later...




It took only a few hours to clear it all away.  I sat with a sketchbook and drafting paper for a few days to figure out what could be done in that dead space.

The indigo vats sit as guardians at the front door. They have been there twenty years.  I've been solitarily scrubbing  indigo off the stones and concrete and walls and glass late at night after all the dyeing fun is over and everyone is asleep or gone home.  And cleaning up the kitchen after a mad day dyeing in there. It was time to put it all together in one easy-to-clean area.

 That old 70s ramshackle kitchen was likeable. Patched together from all sorts of odds and ends. But the counter was too low. The whole room was beyond ramshackle and fast approaching falling apart. With the help of the towns two best carpenters (Sadly, these old time carpenters are disappearing.) it was rebuilt. I had some very old zelkova pillars from a torn down farmhouse I took to the local sawmill and cut and planed and then put together some drawers.  I re-used the countertop and sink, used local wood to have shelves made.  The carpenters are perfectionists and it was tough to be on the ball with all the drafting. They were critical of how heavy the drawers and windows I made are. (Not to mention my pathetic attempt at glass tiling in the kitchen.)  But they were always helpful with advice and curious to all the design quirks insisted on. Japanese tend to leave everything to experts and not get involved with building except to choose the wallpaper etc. Keeping them happy with coffee and cake while refusing to make decisions until the last minute and changing horses in midstream a few times I managed to get my way.  I gave Eros Nakazato an old milk can and asks him to make a hood for the range. As always, he went overboard. Coolest fan hood on the planet.  Thank you Eros.





New dyeing area outside.  It needs to be used a few times before moving on to the completion phase. It takes time to get a feel for how it can be used.

Another bath was needed for when guests are over. One is not enough. The old one is off the kitchen and there isn't much privacy. Just a place to get clean. Not to cleanse.


This becomes the bathtub.


The two-person bath waiting to be put together in the room when the tiles are finished.

If you have ever been to a Japanese hot spring you know that the Japanese have perfected the art of having a bath. Wooden bathtubs in a steamy, dimly lit wooden room with a stone floor......heaven.  It is ambiguous where the outdoors and the indoors meet. In the old days, baths were wooden and heated by a contraption that required firewood. You were left open on a few sides to nature. Rain or sweltering heat or snow and sometimes the gentlest spring breezes, the thought of the hot water waiting, took away the other discomforts of the time it took to prepare the bath undress and wash outside the tub before getting in. The smell of smoke, the sky and trees surrounding you washed away more than grime.

I wanted one at the house for myself and friends and guests. It is almost finished. I made the tub from Sawara Cypress at the local small sawmill. (The owner lets me use the planers and saws as I am endlessly buying wood from him.) As soon as the tiles are on the wall and the stone laid on the floor we can all soak away our stiff backs after a day at the indigo vats. Conspicuous consumption...a little embarrassing.  (The bath will help to get over the discomfort of it all.)



(The landscaping will wait until December.)

There were a lot of very beautiful textiles made at the house the past few months as well. Pictures to come.
A new kitchen,  a new studio and a new bath and record breaking snowstorms. What was I thinking?
It is almost all finished. The first workshop was a success. Spring has arrived. Life is good.





19 comments:

  1. Beautiful !!! everything is so beautiful...and I love your new bathroom. Have a lovely spring !
    best regards
    Magdalena

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  2. Really amazing.

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    1. so this is why I have no social life. I'll come in to Tokyo and meet you one of these days,b

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  3. OMG! it all looks wonderful, wish I could just drop in and smell the cedar. did you build around the kura or knock it down? happy to see you left open shelves in the kitchen so everyone can enjoy the pottery.

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    1. Kura is standing and waiting its turn to be fixed up.There are doors on the bottom to hide the pots. I should have closed em for the photo.

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  4. it looks marvelous. building takes so much time/energy/imagination--but is so worth it!

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    1. s - l - o - w - l - y - way too slow. i want to sleep in my new house!

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  5. I wish I could come and see for real what it looks now. Wonderful job, such creativity in your renovations.

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  6. I am very excited to e coming later this year. I can't believe all the changes you and your friends have made. Just seeing these images gets my juices going.

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    1. Hi Judi,
      Promise the tub will be in.
      The place needs a few more years and it will be OK.
      See you soon,
      B

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  7. I enjoyed reading and seeing how you are developing the indigo hotel, your next guests will enjoy that beautiful bath, but does it mean no trips to the onsen? The dyeing area will adapt to suit, and become splashed with indigo for you to clean each night (that was why you were up so late, I didn't know). I hope all the new building work has been suitably blessed with sake :-) Enjoy the new season.

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  8. I was thinking of staying home while everyone else went to the onsen and chilling out in my own bath..

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    1. Now that sounds like a plan, no interrogation from the neighbours to endure either!

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  9. How lovely, well done on all the hard work.

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  10. How beautiful!! I can't wait to see it!

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