Akio Nukaga’s throwing demonstration really inspired me this weekend.
It was remarkable to see a person who is such a master of his artform behave with such a limitless sense of humility.
It was incredible to watch him bring the clay into shape, despite being watched by a large group he was calm and seemingly effortless with the clay, answering questions and explaining his process as he went.
Afterwards we took part in his friend and master woodworker Hideki Takayama’s wooden spoon finishing class. Takayama had carved each spoon and walked us through the process of sanding and oiling them. Takayama examined each stage letting us know if we were ready to move to the next grade of sandpaper, or politely pointing out certain areas, encouraging us to trust the feel of our hands over simply our eyes.
In between sanding with the different sandpapers, the spoons were wiped down with a wet cloth, and we waited for them to dry. We began with 180 grit, then 240, 320, 400, and finally 600 if we wanted. The wetting process removes dust and swells the wood slightly so we could clearly see rough spots, and what needed to be done further. I finished with a 600 grit sandpaper, which is very fine and gave the wood a beautiful smooth finish.
Takayama was so kind and patient with everyone, encouraging and suggesting, but never forcing his opinions, and always having us think about how the spoon would feel on our mouth, and encouraging us to use it tonight to finish its journey.
Care instructions were to simply wash it by hand with dish soap, and reoil it occasionally if it gets dry. We used walnut oil, but olive oil and grapeseed oil are also good options.
Truly a great experience with both artisans, and we got to take our spoons home with us!