Check-In with Black Barc's Mizuki Tsurutaka During Safer at Home - tortoise general store

Check-In with Black Barc's Mizuki Tsurutaka During Safer at Home

Posted by CreativeR Collaborator on

Mizuki Tsurutaka is the Japanese designer and sole pair of hands producing her beautiful jewelry line, Black Barc.  When you meet her in person, you can't help but see the resemblance of the artisan to her craft; she's petite, sparkly, delicate  - a tad bit shy, whimsical, but understated.  

Mizuki began Black Barc in 2011 in Los Angeles, several years after moving to the United States when she was just a 19 year-old student.  The name Black Barc references her commitment to hand-forging her jewelry over relying on molds - using traditional Japanese blacksmithing techniques to form all her work. 

It takes laborious, detailed work requiring real strength to produce Black Barc's delicate works of wearable art: pieces that feel organic and truly original in their array of precious metals, gems, and now stones. 

We called Mizuki to see how she's doing in her expanded San Pedro studio (she moved there in 2017 with her husband - the designer behind the brand Prospective Flow).

As always, it was lovely to catch up.

E: Hi, Mizuki-san!  How are you doing?

M: I'm doing fine!  Genki! (Japanese for 'healthy and well')

E:  Has your life changed a lot since we went into lockdown?

M: There's less orders, for sure... that changed a lot.  I work with mainly small retailers and these are the businesses that are affected the most with this lockdown.  I am a small business myself, so I depend on orders from other small businesses and individual people.  But pretty much I work all day in my studio, then I go home and sleep, and that was my life before and it's my life now (laughs).  I miss going to the stores (vendors) a lot, cause that was the only time that I left my studio with a purpose.  Visiting the stores was the most fun thing I did in my day-to-day life!  Meeting with the staff and talking with people - that has completely stopped due to this lock down. 



E: Is it easier or harder to be creative when you're 'Safer at Home'?

M: There's a lot more time to think and be more creative.  I concentrate on one thing more intensely now with the extra amount of time I have.  It feels like I'm sometimes stuck in one place and thinking about my jewelry all the time.  I'm posting more pictures and trying to be more visible online, and I've never done this before.  I really enjoy talking with people online though, because more people are seeing my work and reaching out to me directly.  This is kind of new.


E:  What have you been working on lately?

M: Beetles mostly!  I love making small beetles (laughs)!  Small beetles, medium size beetles.  Beetles everyday. 

E: What made you want to create the beetle jewelry?

M: My concept is nature.  And the beetle is my favorite insect.  I showed Taku-san (the owner of Tortoise) a necklace with a stone and he said the shape looks like an insect, and his words stayed in my brain for a while.  For over a year actually, and it made me want to make I did it.  


E: What is your favorite thing to do at home with your husband?

M: I love teasing my cat, Afro, a lot (laughs).  I love watching my cat sleeping.  Or cleaning!  I don't get to do that regularly so when I get a chance I like it.  I like eating and cooking.  Sleeping.  Sorry, this is a bit embarrassing!  I love watching movies and dramas.  I usually watch comedies and dark comedies. 

E: How old is Afro?

M: Afro is 11.  I found him underneath my sister's house.  

E: After all this is over, what is the thing you want to do first?

M: I want to visit stores again! I want to visit Tortoise again!  I also want to go and watch a movie in a theater.  

Thank you Mizuki-san for talking to us!  There's certainly a lot to look forward to when things return to normal.  We can't wait to see you again in person.  

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