"I see every living thing on earth as 'vessel for water’."
Satomi Ando is a glass artist, currently based in Aichi prefecture, Japan. Her pieces have a mysterious mood with constantly changing expressions, and makes us want to keep looking at them. Let's take a glimpse into the background of her works.
WHY DID YOU START CREATING YOUR WORKS WITH GLASS?
I guess it was my encounter with glass art at my new job. Well, it's going to be a bit long story. I have loved crafts, art, and physical activities since I was a small child. However, I gave up and went to a normal four-year university. Since my family had a strict policy and I could not say that I wanted to study art.
After that, when I was about to finish my fourth year working at a bank, I started to feel gloomy. I had no vision of working there in the future, and I thought that if I didn't do anything, I would end up living a very boring life. I also never had much desire to get married (Laughs).
Even though I had a stable income at that time, doing what I like or going to places I wanted to go on the weekend, I felt empty and unfulfilled. Gradually my desire to make my working time more valuable became stronger as it is the longest time I spend in my life.
While I was thinking about this, I happened to know one of my friends was working for an apparel brand which had a designer I loved. As I was listening to their story, I became interested and changed my job.
When I saw the collaboration between the brand's unique hats and glass objects by glass artist Ritsue Mishima at an exhibition, my idea of glass changed 180 degrees. Until then, I had the image of glass as a "cold, dignified, symmetrical, and still" thing. However, Ritsue Mishima's glass objects were "warm, soft, asymmetrical, and dynamic" and filled with energy as if they were alive.
Also, the hat and the glass were in harmony with each other even though they had a strong character. I was really amazed by that balance! If you put well designed things together, they look somewhat harmonious. However, I felt that many of the combinations I've seen so far were not harmonious in a true way. (There are a lot of really good things too, excuse my straight thoughts...) I was wondering, maybe the material of glass makes this harmony possible. I had been so amazed and very excited by this exhibition, and I started thinking about creating something with glass.
PLEASE TELL US HOW INTERESTING AND DIFFICULT TO CREATE BY USING HOT WORK TECHNIQUE.
It is said that no matter how skilled at blowing glass, it is difficult to control the glass perfectly. I have acquired the minimum necessary skills and knowledge, and I gracefully admit that I cannot control the glass. I try to work with an image of having a dialogue with the flow of the glass. This is very fun, as if I were playing with a friend.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
It may be common, but it is "water. I see every living thing on earth as 'vessel for water’ I think that original forms of things are more like something floating in space, though it may have been held down by various forces to become what you see now.
ARE THERE ANY ARTISTS OR DESIGNERS WHO HAVE ASPIRED YOU?
Glass artists: Ritsue Mishima and Tapio Wirkkala.
Designer: Yoshiyuki Miyamae.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU WHEN CREATING?
I am always conscious of the good balance of not imposing my own will on glass too much. Glass cannot be touched directly by hand during the work, so it is an indirect process. I try not to touch it too much with tools, not to give the glass an artificial shape.
When I try to shape glass into an organized form, I inevitably have to press the glass with tools. I feel this process kills the will of the glass to move freely. So I try not to touch the glass with tools, and get a sense of what kind of form they want to be by observing the motion of melting glass.
I HAVE HEARD THAT YOU WILL BE WORKING MAINLY WITH COLORLESS GLASS FROM NOW ON. PLEASE TELL US HOW YOU CAME TO THIS DECISION AND HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT IT.
I believe that colorless transparency brings out the best of glass. Colorless glass allows us to enjoy the shapes, shadows, and refractions of the glass more directly. I like colored glass as well, but I am not willing to use it at this moment. Using color makes me visually conscious of the color, and unconsciously let me think about the meaning of the color, which limits and restricts your mind.
Last year, I made a lot of works with color to increase my knowledge. I am planning to use it for pieces that have a specific concept. But for now, the best glass for me is colorless and transparent!
DO YOU USE YOUR OWN PIECES IN YOUR HOME? IF YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PIECE, OR A FAVORITE WAY OF USING IT, PLEASE TELL US!
I use all the pieces I make and place them in my living space. They are all my favorites, and it is hard to choose the best. (Laughs). I think it is best if you use them as you want, even though I call it a 'vase'. I hope you will enjoy discovering new ways to use them!
ARE THERE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO CHALLENGE IN THE FUTURE?
I would like to create larger, challenging and better pieces for my next exhibition, as I had a chance to make a large piece at my last solo exhibition, and got a taste for it (Laughs). I would also like to focus more on jewelry from now on.
IF YOU HAVE ANY MESSAGES FOR USERS, PLEASE!
I hope you will enjoy and find inspiration or be healed by my works, which change with the environment in which they are placed, the angle from which they are viewed, and the time of day.
ORIFT OWNER’S COMMENT
Her glass works evoke the word "pure" and have a certain beauty that makes the time stop. Seeing her work and reading her words in the interview made me recall the curiosity about water that I felt strongly as a child. I never got bored gazing at the surface of all kinds of water: bath water, ponds in the park, rivers in the neighborhood, and so on. Her work has an interesting, ever-changing expression that makes you want to keep looking at it, so I hope you will pick it up and enjoy it!
Studio and profile photo credit 2022, Satomi Ando
Born in Aichi prefecture, Japan. After graduating from the Toyama Institute of Glass Art, where she studied basic techniques of glass works, she studied at the Seto Ceramics and Glass Art Center where she discovered and developed her own unique style. Currently based in Aichi prefecture and creates a wide range of pieces by using various techniques such as hot work (blown glass) to create objects and vessels, burner work for jewelry, and kiln work for objects.