Interview with Shoichi Ishizawa and Makiko Miyata from Ossu! Syugeibu
My dear readers, today I have two special artists that I have interviewed last week through Anna Hrachovec from Gallery Hanahou at the Luv-able and Hug-able exhibition which will be held until January 7th, 2009.
Although I didn’t meet them in personal, but I can feel that Shoichi Ishizawa and Makiko Miyata from Ossu! Syugeibu are very friendly persons and funny too. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to interview these two wonderful artists.
Q: How are you guys, and thanks for the opportunity to interview you.
A: We’re flattered. Yes, it’s nice to meet you.
Q: First of all, can you guys tell us your name and a little about yourself?
A: My name is Shoichi Ishizawa, but you can just call me “Bucho” (“club leader” in Japanese). My specialty is being leading crafter for Ossu! Syugeibu. Basically, I cover all creative aspects of crafting at Ossu! Syugeibu, from choosing the raw materials, deciding methods of handcrafting, and all the different ways you can use your creation.
I’m Makiko Miyata, from the Ossu! Syugeibu. Although the core members of Ossu! Syugeibu are men, I could say that I am the “Top Star” among the women in the club. Well, at least I call myself that.
Q: I have read on the news from DesignTide Tokyo 2007, that none of the founding members of the Ossu! has any background or skills in handicraft, can you tell what makes you interested to make handicraft toys in first place?
A: For now that’s the truth. Still, generally, none of us has any traditional crafting expertise. And we don’t really teach it, either.
Typically, people consider crafting to be a woman’s art. But we wanted to put a more masculine spin on it. So one day, seven of my male friends in the neighborhood and I got together and started the Ossu! Syugeibu (or Men’s Handcraft Club). That was 5 years ago.
We didn’t meet for the sake of crafting. It wouldn’t have been fun since none of us had any experience crafting before, right?
So, we decided to create something without using any special skills, instead of just not creating anything due to a lack of skill. This is the policy since the beginning and it remains that way here at our club.
And so began Ossu! Syugeibu:
- We don’t overthink it
- We don’t plan it out
- We don’t use patterns or kits
- We don’t take any measurements
- We don’t use pins or mark spots
- We don’t have perfect stitches
- We don’t compete or compare each others’ crafts
That’s the philosophy! And we stick to it.
Most people think that having a philosophy is restrictive. But this liberates all of the members and lets us appreciate each others’ uniqueness, so we can create whatever we want without boxing ourselves in.
Q: Also from DesignTide, they said that the group has invented many new handcraft techniques, can you describe in short, what technique that you are usually using when making a plush toys and why?
A: The best technique that we came up with is the notion that you don’t have to try to create things perfectly.
Q: I heard from Anna of the Gallery Hanahou that your group also make plush toys together out of unusual materials, any particular reason why using that such materials?
A: We try to meet once a month for club activities. The theme changes each time and we make the crafts accordingly.
Overall, I’d say that we’ve had about eighty different themes. We use cloth, yarn, socks, gloves, and other things you can use for crafting but they’re too normal and kind of boring, so we also use stuff like umbrellas, slippers, and bandages.
We even use left-over cloth that is normally considered garbage and old batteries. We love to create things with them because using those unusual, surprising materials inspire the members.
Q: Is there any plush toys that you ever create which has a special meaning, or the one that you especially enjoyed so much while making it and be a masterpiece of yours?
A: This one was first made by club members without use of sewing, knitting, or machine.
I thought the members who didn’t have any crafting skills could at least coil yarn around cotton to make these plush creations. The transformation was great from the start. Good times!
Q: Can you tell us how many members that you have now and where are they come from, also is there someone in the group that was considered as the ‘leader’ among others?
A: Once you join one of the workshops that Ossu! Syugeibu organizes, you’re a member of Ossu! Syugeibu instantly, like it or not.
Since the workshops are usually held in Japan, most of the members are in Japan. But we also have some members in France, Italy and Korea, where we have held workshops. While we were in New York for Luv-able & Hug-able, we held a workshop there as well.
Many participated from gallery hanahou, so we have members there now, too. The total number of members is 500 or so. And the core members are 7, who are all mainly, handsome Japanese guys.
Q: And for the last one, do you have any message that you want to say to my website readers?
A: Crafting with kid-level skills using a kid’s imagination is awesome!
Shoichi Ishizawa and Makiko Miyata
CWC International + gallery hanahou
611 Broadway, Suite 730
New York, NY 10012
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