Soju Projekt's Kenneth E. Lawrence and Kumiko Lawrence took part in 'Senses of Japan' event at Fran's Chocolates this weekend. The event was a display of exquisite Japanese craftsmanship, impressive not only for the traditional techniques of the craftsmen, but also for the innovative ways they have developed to keep their art alive.
One example was the work of Shokan Matsuda (松田祥幹) A third-generation lacquer artist, Matsuda-sensei applied the centuries-old technique of makie (literally 'sprinkled art' 蒔絵) to decorate an unusual item, a stratocaster electric guitar.
Interestingly, the man who commissioned Matsuda-sensei's work, an avid collector of guitars, expressed similar concern for a disappearing tradition, the stratocaster, once the guitar of choice for many great guitarists. This means a lot to Kumiko and I because even a partial list of stratocaster players - Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, George Harrison, Adrian Belew, The Edge, George Harrison, David Gilmore, Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townsend - includes many of the guitar greats who we listened to and saw in concert 'back in the day.' The stratocaster is now in danger of fading away.
Matsuda-sensei used immaculate technique to hand-paint the lacquer, then sprinkle the gold, silver copper and brass powders. The selected design was of a demon mask and costume used in traditional Japanese theater.
It was an excellent display of traditional craftsmanship, amazing to watch. It was also wonderful to see tradition and innovation in action.
Mr. Matsuda Shokan's website http://www.makieshi.com/