Sandblasting Glass Art, Takarazuka Sumire Gallery, directed by Eiko Yamada

My Journey of Glass

Light and Shadow in Romania

From Narita airport, via Paris, I flew to Bucharest, the capital of Romania. During the eighteen hours flight, I studied about Romanian history, economics, and culture as if I would take a college exam next day. So the long flight went by so quickly. Romania is about the size of Honshu (Japan's biggest island) and has four seasons. Last year, the first time I came to this country, was the coldest time of the year. Romania shares a border with Hungary and Serbia to the west, Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, and Bulgaria the south. Because of the oppression and invasions from those nearby countries for four hundred years, the upper class and the aristocracy remained mainly outreach of the country. They struggled to enrich their own culture and art grow freely for a long time. The gray sky covering over the land seemed to represent the historical background. I remembered that the pure white snow shining the city and the coldness held me up.

This time, it was spring. Romanian land healed me from the chaos in Japan. There were laughters on a wagon carrying a pile of fodder. Under a stork nest, a shepherd was looking over the peaceful landscape. People in this land were flexible, patient, joyful, simple, and friendly. Forty-five years of Communism and twenty-four years of Ceauşescu's project of total reimbursement of the foreign debt impoverished Romanians and exhausted the Romanian economy. Caused in its path, Romanians were suppressed to follow the order even after the revolution act in 1989 which resulted in the slow growth of its economic reform and democratization. Five hundred million dollars of Japanese economic support to countries such as Romania, Hungary, Germany, Rom (Gipsy), Ukraine, Serbia, Judah, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Armenia didn't seem to put toward any successful projects.

There was glass production near the center of the city. Because of the location, I can speak to people with English and French although Romanian is spoken inside the factory. We share the common knowledge about glass making so our communication could be done by gestures to get our point crossed. In Japan, I had attended the glass production of my master, Kou Takeuchi (the world-known sandblast artist). Every time I visit other productions, I became aware of how high his skill was. It is difficult to import colors for glasses in Romania which limits their artworks with color variations. The outer layering technique (lightly cover the surface of an artwork with colored glass) was familiar to me. I prepared the color coordination of glass cullet (glass beads) and canna (glass bar). The glass artists in the factory gently taught me how to blow glass. When my artwork came out well, many artists clapped their hands and cheered loudly. I suppose it was their welcoming expression.

Danube Delta by the Black Sea carried Roman glass from Russia a long time ago. It's possible that the technique of Roman glass was studied by the Romanian which originated the outer layered glass art here. In the production of Emile Galle, there were many Romanian workers. With their help, Galle was able to create some of the major Art Nouveau creations. The root of his outer layering technique might have originated in Romania.