November 13, 2015
We’re ending our day with some serene images by Starling Brood. The story of Starling Brood goes back to 2010, when Mihaeko began working with singer Björk to design a series of new musical instruments for Björk’s Biophilia. Mihaeko found a deep affinity with the project seeking to explore nature through art. Having designed and hand-built unique wooden harps that would tour the world, Mihaeko finally turned her attention toward more intimate explorations. She left her home in Brooklyn for a cabin in the mountains of Vermont. We’re thrilled that Mihaeko will be heading back to New York and joining us for our Holiday Fair tomorrow and Sunday!
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?
The name Starling Brood was inspired by David Bowie’s Starman. I was spending a lot of time alone with my work, and had a sense of observing things from the outside.
When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?
I had been collaborating with some wildly creative people and found myself getting overwhelmed by the excesses, the whims of the NY art scene. I wanted to create a quieter space for myself. So I began with my favorite quotidian objects, in particular those used for tea.
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
My designs are free of adornment as much as possible, free of excess. They’re essentially rustic, though each piece is carefully crafted. All of my attention goes into delicate shapes, edges and textures. They’re reminiscent of a certain natural state, connected to simplicity in living, close to the earth
What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
It took me a few months to formulate the Tenmoku glaze for my Mountain cups. There were many unanticipated failures in that process, some of which had to do with the glaze interacting with an unusual clay body. I was very near giving up. When I opened the kiln after firing my final attempt, I was blown away by a perfect, mottled Tenmoku.
Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
For a while I was overly confident in my clay and glazes, and I would fire without testing new combinations. I lost a few kiln loads – many hours of production because I didn’t test first. I’ve learned to be more patient.
How does the city you live in influence your work?
Shortly after I began Starling Brood, I moved from NYC to New England – Vermont and then Cape Cod. I’m intensely inspired by New England’s nature and seasons, as well as a certain Yankee mindset. It can be cold and reticent. Yet honest and intimate too. I think this is expressed most elegantly by William Channing in the letterpress print I made with Elias (EM Letterpress).