Tomoko Morisaki works quietly inside a converted garage in Torrance California, her hands coated in slip (clay liquid) as she gently raises a bowl on a spinning wheel. Her electric kiln is within arm's-length, and her shelves are lined with neutral-toned clay creations in playful geometric shapes. A cluster of cat dinner bells stand politely next to a stack of bowls that collectively resemble a tiered cake - the glaze drips down their sides like frosting.
Working with clay is a solitary activity, except Tomoko is also a mother of 2. One is in grade school while the other is a middle-schooler, and since going into lock down in March they are constantly at home. We're checking in with Tomoko Morisaki, local ceramic artist and founder of Tomoro Pottery since 2014, to see how she's doing while Safer at Home.
E: How are you, Tomoko-san?
T: I'm genki (Japanese for 'healthy and well'). Enjoying a slower life at home.
E: Has your life changed since the lockdown started?
T: The number of orders decreased as shops have closed. But the number of direct inquiries and orders from individual customers have increased, so I'm happy to interact with customers one-on-one.
E: Is it easier or harder to be more creative while Safer at Home?
T: Now that orders have slowed down I'm enjoying this opportunity to live life more slowly.
E: What have you been working on lately?
T: With my extra time I'm making prototypes of new tableware designs, and I'm also making artwork that I couldn't make until now. This is an opportunity to slowly face the work again, and think deeply about the best way to express myself creatively.
E: You're a mother of two. How are you spending your time with your family?
T: Before Safer at Home, the children were busy with school and sports, so our family rarely ate meals together. Now I feel happy we can share all three meals together, talking and eating as we enjoy each other's company. I also enjoy playing with clay and drawing with the children. When I talk to them while they're making, I'm often amazed by how they express themselves - their natural creative intuitions. I feel moved by way they think and process. It's truly a very valuable time for us.
E: What do you want to do first when you finish your lockdown life?
T: I want to meet up with friends and talk about delicious food! It's my greatest pleasure to spend time with friends who I've met through pottery and parenting.
E: Thank you for speaking with us, Tomoko-san.
T: Thank you too. I have one last message I'd like to express. There is a saying in the Japanese Way of Tea— 一期一会 (Ichi Go Ichi E)—that regards every encounter as a unique opportunity of a lifetime, or treasuring each passing moment. I consider this time of pandemic as such, and a chance to be honest with myself, to be humble, and grateful for life. This moment in our lives gives me a chance to deeply appreciate everyone who is around me.
Thank you Tomoko-san for talking to us. We're glad you're finding quiet joy in slowing down with family while remaining creative. We look forward to seeing you face-to face soon.
We'll be re-ordering Tomoro Pottery in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!