“Because of the great earthquake, his house, studio, and storage house were devastated:
the pillars of the house were snapped, all window panes were smashed.
on the floor in the studio, all colors of frits were scattered.
the heavy kilns moved unbelievably away.
To my sorrow, it seemed like all of their glass works in the storage house were damaged.”
-Keiko, friend of Kimiake and Shin-ichi Higuchi
This is just one small story of many in the aftermath of the great Japan earthquake of March 11, 2011. Kimiake and Shin-ichi Higuchi are masters of the art glass technique known as Pâte de Verre, in which glass powder is packed into a mold and then fired in the kiln. Glass Art Magazine has said “many see Kimiake and Shin-ichi Higuchi as the King and Queen of Pâte de Verre. Their work in this medium possesses luster, translucency and shine that seems unfathomable.” Both artists are fine after the quake, but their studio, home and much of their work has been destroyed.
The Higuchis are both inspired by items from nature. Kimiake often works with flowers or vegetables she grows herself in her extraordinary gardens and creates works of such startling clarity and color one can almost believe they are real. “I pick each bloom or leaf in the moment of its prime, and in my hands the plants become glass.”
Shin-ichi uses insects as a common theme in his work to express his concern for the environment and the loss of so many small creatures. “In our civilization, human ego is destroying so much of nature,” he explains, “Some of the most victimized are the smallest creatures. My pieces convey a warning about the insects and also my feelings about their loss.” I love how modern and yet quintessentially Japanese the honeycomb pattern is on his mosaic Bees Casket in the collection of the Corning Museum of Glass, where they had planned to do their annual workshop this summer. Unfortunately, it looks as if this will have to be cancelled.