Alleluja: Sawako Hayakawa

I discovered Sawako’s work via a twitter comment from Kit Lane telling the world that they had to click over and visit an amazing new Etsy shop. I found the most beautiful and original work at Alleluja, Sawako’s shop, I hadn’t come across anything similar anywhere else, an astounding combination of kawaii, colour and exquisite skill. Really it is so hard to convey just how perfectly made these tiny porcelain creatures are, you need to hold one in your hands, feel the smooth, glassy glaze next to the warm and fuzzy felt. I am a rhapsode for Sawako’s Kigurumi pincushions, oh and you can wear some of them as pendents as well!

Tell us a little about yourself, the media you work with and your creative process.

“My name is Sawako Hayakawa. I live with my partner and two cats in the suburbs of Tokyo, Japan. I work as a transcriber at my home office. In fact, I don’t know how you say my job in English correctly. It is to convert the oral conversation into the reading ones. I keep typing almost everyday. I began to go to the ceramic workshop of the neighbouring town ten years ago. That was my first experience of ceramic work.

“Also, I started to do the needle felt in my own style a few years later. In after years, I combined them with my work as the pincushion. I think it is the natural flow, because I like the wool as much as the clay. Now, I make the ceramics in my spare time. I formed porcelain soil in my home and do the glazing and the firing in the ceramic workshop.”

< From where do you draw your inspiration: music, books, people, nature etc?

“I like movies and music. Also, I like science fiction novels and manga. My work is sure to have all those influences. Usually, I draw rough sketches before making ceramic works. Every time I find any cute thing, I make a simple sketch of them in my notebook.”

“I always listen to music while making my work, and I’m an iPod user outdoors. I like music such as alternative rock, indie rock and folk music. This music uplifts my feelings and it surely leads me to better work. And I like cats. I find the “kawaii” in their casual gesture day by day. I am inspired by their cuteness.”

“Above all, I like movies very much. My screen name “alleluja” was taken from the hero in a spaghetti western movie titled “Heads I Kill You, Tails You’re Dead! They Call Me Hallalujah”. I’m a movie lover. I am dedicating my work to the movie as a hommage in a somewhat strange way.”

If you could talk briefly about the background to one of your pieces which would you choose and why? Please tell us the story behind the piece.

“I want to talk about my Kigurumi pincushion. I have begun to make this works recently. At first I intended to make Kigurumi doll of the porcelain. “Kigurumi” means a stuffed-animal suit in Japanese. I have been interested in the animal suit long before and I tried to make it with the ceramic art work. I molded an animal suit doll with clay and laid it prone. That pose of the tiny animal suit doll reminded me of a scene in a well known movie.”

“It is Hitchcock’s “The Birds”. At the outdoor party scene, a flock of birds descended on the children and attacked them. One girl who was running away fell prone, a bird stopped on her head. She was struggling to escape from the bird. She fell down on the ground and fluttered her foot. It was a very impressive scene. I felt sorry for her, and even more, I was instinctively fascinated. It was really cute! So, I decided to make Kigurumi dolls fall prone and make pincushion in their back. By such a process, the Kigurumi pincushion was completed.”

“I received a lot of responses to my Kigurumi pincushion at Etsy and Flickr. It’s wonderful! It makes me feel really happy! I want to thank KitLane who encouraged me when I was hesitating about having my Etsy shop. And thank you, Lisa! I could think deeply about my work and myself through this interview.”

Find Sawako here:

What a joy to learn some more about Sawako and her beautiful work. Thank you so much Sawako. I adore the story of the inspiration behind the Kigurumi pincushions, I must watch that scene again. Good bird phobia aversion therapy. Do you lovely kittens have any unusual sources of inspiration? I would love to know. I will let you into a little secret, my pieces for Plush You have been made with memories of Battle Of The Planets swirling around my head, do you remember that cartoon, I was *obsessed* with it is a child?!

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8 Responses to Alleluja: Sawako Hayakawa

  1. Pola says:

    Oh! Lovely, I know her from you, and she is great, love the little characters, you always sorpraise me!
    Brava Sawako San!

  2. I adore her work and the interview was truly insightful. Wow!! I would never have imagined pairing that adorable little kittie in a stuffed suit lying on its side and a scene from one of my favorite intensely psychological movies from my childhood. I can picture the exact scene it my mind right now!
    Lisa , I can’t wait to see you plush you contributions. Maybe i need to start working on mine. Hmmm

  3. Rosemoo says:

    Great interview! I started noticing her after that Kitlane comment too! One of these days I’ll get me a little porcelain friend from Japan.

    I love that her inspiration comes from wonderful movies! I never did get around to seeing The Birds, although I’ve seen a lot of his other work. I guess I should get out and watch that!



  4. Kit Lane says:

    The work of Sawako Hayakawa captured my attention and my heart. I simply had to touch it. My wish came true when she opened her Etsy shop and I was able to have one for my very own. (now two and probably lots more soon) Sawako’s photographs of her work are darling indeed but they don’t compare to the absolute dearness of holding one in your own hand. They come packaged so sweetly with all the loving care of a mother swaddling her infant which to me was nearly as endearing as the work itself. For me, they will be treasure for always.

  5. Amy says:

    Oh, Lisa, I can’t thank you enough for bringing this lovely, talented artist to my attention! Her work is haunting (in a good way) and so dear. I’m heading to her shop right now, but I had to thank you first. What a treasure…

    Blessings to you, and to Sawako! xox.

  6. i love these little characters very much. great interview, thanku 🙂
    . . . would love one day to have one as a pendant.

  7. danica says:

    oh her work is such heaven! thank you for sharing, i’m so inspired.

  8. erin doubek says:

    Hello! We are staying at my father in law & his wifes home & they have a beautiful platter about 18 in diameter… Olive back colors with cobalt shape in the edge to middle & interesting white dots that almost look like watercolor. It is so beautiful & my children broke it. We are so upset & are looking to replace it & live in ventura,california (southern California). Are there any stores (physical or online) that I can visit so that I may replace the piece? Thank you so much for your help… My mother in law really enjoys your work 🙂 erin doubek

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