Tomoko Nangu, the owner of nangoo glass accessory, runs her own gallery, Gallery+Shop Loquat, in addition to creating her glass works. We visited her small atelier located in her lovely gallery. Let's take a glimpse into the background of her creation!
You can see her works here
WHAT SHE VALUES WHEN CREATING
I think it's about making something that I want. I am sure that if I want it, there will be other people who want it.
ーーIT SOUNDS SIMPLE AND NICE! DO YOU MAKE SMALL THINGS BECAUSE YOU LIKE THAT SIZE?
That's because there is a limit to the size you can make with a burner. But I think it is easier to make something with a bit of a limitation, and it probably fits my sense of size. I have no desire to make something huge.
Even if I am allowed to make anything I want freely, I cannot do it. Rather, I like to have a theme, for example, "something to be wearable," and then think about what kind of object would be nice to express within that theme.
I would really prefer a larger space in which to work. (Laughs) I think that you can feel the wide universe in a smaller thing.
Material glass rod.
Melting the glass rod using a burner, and wrapped around the blowpipe.
Roll it around and shape it into a sphere.
I often get inspired outdoors because I love to be outside. Recently, I've been cycling and having picnics. When I'm working, I'm always cooped up, so in my free time, I go outside if the weather is nice.
A small atelier filled with Nangu-san's vision.
In terms of philosophy, I don't have a particular person. I think that my work is a little influenced by what I feel from each artist, such as his/her colors and shapes, which I somehow integrate into my own work.
If I had a favorite artist who strongly influenced me, I'm sure I'd enjoy it, though. For example, if there is a film director that I really like, I don't want to watch all of his or her past works from scratch. In my case, there are 2~3 directors that I like, and when their new works are screened, I go to see them. I enjoy their works in a more casual way.
ーー YOUR COLOR SCHEME IS VERY CHIC! WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FOR YOUR COLOR CHOICES?
I often decide by looking at the glass rods that are the material. The colors of glass rods are so pretty already, and there are so many different kinds of colors. For example, I may choose one color, and then decide which color goes with it, and then decide on the combination.
Also, when I participate in an exhibition, I focus on the seasonality. I want the exhibition to be unique to that time of year. I look at the colors of the glass rods and choose colors based on a seasonal mood.
Colorful glass rods. It is thrilling just to look at them.
Sometimes when I get stuck, I become unsure of what colors I like. (Laughs) I sometimes wonder if I am really doing the right thing when my mind becomes limited and I have to choose by a process of elimination, or when I end up with just a single pattern. There is a book that I always look at in those situations, a book by an artist named Frank Stella.
A collection of works by Frank Stella.
This is a book I got from my high school library. Originally I was not good at colors. There was a time when my tutor at the art prep school told me that I looked "That's a tacky color, like a hick from Kawasaki City."(Laughs) I probably used only vivid colors like magenta a lot at that time.
I stare at these pages and think, “placing this slightly more subdued color on the side of a flashy color might be a good idea.” But there is no color exactly the same for the glass, so I just use it as a reference. This book is in shreds because I only look at these pages so often! (Laughs)
As I was not good at colors, I began to think about it more carefully, and now I am able to choose colors by feel without thinking too much about it.
Blow to make the glass thickness uniform.
ENJOYMENT AND DIFFICULTY OF CREATION
First of all, just handling the molten glass is so much fun. Also, thinking about color combinations is enjoyable. There is nothing particularly hard when creating. I think I am able to continue creating because I enjoy it.
Well, there are some physical difficulties, such as the pain from grinding the glass, which also scrapes my fingernails, or tired hands and arms from working all the time, stiff shoulders, hot hands, and so on. But there is nothing special too hard about it.
I don't even think people expect that much from me, so maybe I am not putting that much mental pressure on myself. But when I create something new, I sometimes get worried that other people will not like my work. I am expressing my personal taste, but I really don't want it to be self-satisfying, as I want to share my feeling with people.
The process of attaching the glass ball to brass.
Finally, fire it up with a burner to get the surface just right and voila!
IN THE FUTURE
I would like to exhibit only my mobile works. I want to fill a white space with only mobiles. Right now I am thinking about color combinations and balance within one piece, but I would like to try thinking about how to showcase it in the space as a whole. I have a place where I would like to hold an exhibition, so I think I should be a bit brave and approach them.
nangoo glass accessory NANGU TOMOKO
Graduated from Musashino Art University, Department of Industrial, Interior, Craft Design, Glass Course. In 2004, she began working as nangoo glass accessory, creating glass accessories and mobiles. In 2009, she opened her home gallery "Gallery + Shop Loquat", where she holds permanent exhibitions of her own work and her favorite craftsmen.
You can see her works here