The lovely "hariko" brooches by Chihiro Inoue

The lovely "hariko" brooches by Chihiro Inoue

Wanderlust by T.S.L and The Superior Labor are so happy to introduce all of you an initiative we have started to promote some of the Japanese traditional arts and crafts and some illustrators and artists that made us fell in love with their work.

In this occasion, we want to introduce you Chihiro Inoue, an illustrator and "hariko" (paper-mache) artists who made these lovely brooches inspired in the traditional "hariko" technique. (Buy them here)

W - Chihiro, can you please tell us a bit of yourself and your career?

C - Hello! My name is Chihiro Inoue. I am an illustrator and a children’s book author based in Japan. I was working as a teaching associate in an art university after graduated Visual Design Course at Tsukuba University in Japan. After working there for five years, I decided to pursue my interest in creating picture books and I went to England. I joined the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art. My debut picture book “The Twin Dogs” was published from Tate publishing in 2020.

Also, since 2016, I started making "hariko" Japanese paper-mache figure, under my original brand called “harikokko”.

W - What are "hariko" and how are they made?

C - “Hariko” is a Japanese traditional handicraft folk toy. It is a kind of paper-mache figure and it's made by using washi papers.  

Usually the inside is hollow and the surface is coated with “gofun”, a white color pigment made from shell powder. 

Then, humorous illustrations painted on it. There are traditional / regional "hariko" in many areas around Japan.

W - How did you got interested in "hariko"?

C - I was interested in it after I visited “Takamatsu hariko” a classic handicraft local store at Kagawa city. The one I saw was a little tiger that looks like is yawning. The bold shape and the painting was very cute and funny and I also could feel that it was really carefully made. I started researching about it and found that I could start making them with everyday things around us. Since then, I started to create my original "hariko" figures, self-studying and improving them little by little.

W - What challenges did you had to make the TSL engineer bag "hariko" brooches?

C - Usually I am making "hariko" with my original designs, and it was my first time to create a product based on existing motif. I didn’t want to loose the original engineer bag’s design, but needed to remain "hariko" like mood. Also, the balance between strength and design was a point. "Hariko" are very sensitive craft, weak against friction and shock. 

I wanted to create a brooche inspired in the "hariko" techniques, but I also had to modify them to make it more resistant and stronger. I tested different coatings/materials to increase the strength and decided to replace the canvas texture by a washi paper texture. I tried to depict the bag design’s details by hand painting and it worked to show the warmth and friendliness of "hariko" craft. I hope you like them!

W - From where do you get the inspiration for your work?

C - I get inspiration from my surroundings. I love the little funny things from everyday life and I'm trying to catch and describe them in my way.
Recently, I started printmaking. It all started when I was studying in England and this process also inspires me a lot. Results always show me unexpected effects or textures. I try not to control it too much and enjoy to develop my ideas for drawing.

W - What are your favorite art or stationery products?

C - I'm bringing Kuretake’s brush fountain pen everywhere for doing sketches. I was looking for a best bold line pen for a long time and finally got this!
Also, I'm a pencil lover and I even made pencil shaped pin badges and paper-mache figures. Finding a new pencil brand while travelling is one of my habits!

W - Will you share with us one of your biggest dreams?

C - Publishing a picture book was one of my biggest dreams and it came true!
Now I hope to continue making books and want them to be read by children all over the world in the future!

W - What is your favorite place in Japan?

C - My favorite place is the Seto Inland Sea. My grandmother was living in Kagawa prefecture and my family used to spend the summer vacation there. I love getting on a boat there and see the peaceful and beautiful view of many little islands quietly floating.

W - Would you like to send a message for the TSL fans?

C - Hi! I will be super happy if you can feel a bit relaxed and happy through my works! 

W - Thank you so very much, Chihiro!!!
We hope you enjoy these handmade TSL Engineer Bag brooches and had learn a little about the traditional Japanese "hariko" figures. For sure these brooches will make you feel Japan closer to you!

Artist: Chihiro Inoue
G: @chihiro__inoue
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