November 9, 2015
In The Studio
Last year we had the chance to visit the Ashware Studio up in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. When we got there, Megumi hard at work wrapping and packaging her ceramics. The surprise part of our trip was that ceramicists, Michiko Shimada and Beetle & Flor also share the same space. Talk about a triple bonus! After getting a good look around we had the chance to speak with Megumi about her art and living in Brooklyn.
What is your process like?
For my slip casting works, I do many sketches to determine the shape. Then I draw on the Cad or Illustrator and print out to check the size. For the geometric designs, I draw flat die-line then print out on thick card stock paper to cut and fold to make a mock up. When I decide the final design and the size, I make models, then molds. I pour liquid clay in the mold to cast the shape. Finally, I fire. I have done a lot of material and color tests to find colors and textures that fit the design.
I recently started making hand built and thrown ceramics. With this process I have to hear and feel what this clay wants to be. Some chunk of clay doesn’t want to go high like others do, I feel like it is more like working with clay. It is interesting.
When/Why did you start working with clay?
I leaned throwing on the wheel in Japan when I was 19. Then I learned slip casting at Parsons. After graduate Parsons, I got a full-time designer job but work was all computer. I was missing making something with my hands. In 2005, Friends from college and I start renting a table space at Clayspace1205 a commercial ceramic studio in Greenpoint.
How does Brooklyn or New York in general, influence your work?
Living and Working in Brooklyn was very inspiring. I’ve met a lot of interesting people. Seeing and feeling cultures and the trends, and the development of Brooklyn was very interesting.
Luckily, handmade movement and made in Brooklyn became popular. There were more opportunities to show/sell hand made works. I started selling my works at holiday markets. Then 2009 or 2010 I did first Renegade sell and realized I can sell my works. From the show, I’ve gotten some wholesale accounts, collaboration job with Tocca; NYC based fusion and beauty brand.
In 2011, we found a studio space on Ash Street in Greenpoint and I bought a kiln. But, Brooklyn is not that much fun place to be anymore. Everything is over-developed, over-populated and over-priced. Rent price of any Brooklyn building increase a lot. Our studio rent also increased 50% up from This June. More and more Makers are moving to Catskills.
Do you have any tips or suggestions for potential makers out there?
Craft fair is good to start to selling your goods. You can see what sells well. What’s customer looking for. You may be able to meet store owners too.
What are some of your inspirations for your work?
Japanese traditional design, and modern life style. Brooklyn and Catkills life. Nature and Outdoors.
What are your short term and long term goals for Ashware?
Short term goal is start selling one of kind collection and have second studio in upstate NY.
I want to have a store some day. That is my long term goal.
Where did the name Ashware come from?
Ceramics, Handmade on Ash street.
We can hardly wait to see these lovely gals at our New York Holiday Fair. You can view the full set of photos in our Studio Visits album on Flickr. In the mean time check out Brooklyn makers, Ashware Studio, Beetle & Flor, and Michiko Shimada online.