looking out of my kitchen door yesterday morning I heard the squeaks and honks first, then looking up, there they were, skeins of pink-footed geese lit by the sun like strings of pearls wavering against the dark blue-grey storm cloud. I didn’t get a picture then, but here they are today, not as close, nor lit like that. geese-flying.jpg

this week I went to a demonstration and lecture on Japanese laquer, urushi. its a very old technique, used by the Jomon culture at least 4,000 years ago to stick arrowheads to their shafts, and then eventually to make objects. two of the urushi makers in the Crafting Beauty exhibition which finishes at the British Museum this weekend have been giving demonstrations at the Sainsbury Centre at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. this is a very time consuming art, requiring enormous patience and manual dexterity. I went to see Murose Kazume using gold and silver dust, mother of pearl, cinnabar, and abalone to decorate laquer objects in successive layers of urushi laquer. I have to be honest and say that while I respect absolutely the virtuosity of this artist, these objects are far too perfect for my taste. I found his tools the most interesting things. he has brushes of mouse hair, and tubes with silk over the end of various grades to sift out the particles of gold.