Jorie Johnson (Joi Rae): Gourd Runner I table center/tatami series, natural color and vegetable-dyed wool, flax, kudzu fiber, skeletal leaves. Photo by Toyoda Yuzo.Surrounded by lots of lovely Japanese ceramics I wanted a new way to initiate conversations between the clay objects, textiles and the room interior.  In order to protect the table top, tray surfaces or tatami from rough ceramic bottoms I designed a group of felt textiles to solve the problem.  Also, the clay, grass fibers, trees and sheep all exist in the same environment so I found that the combination of materials was very simpatico and coordinated naturally together in almost any interior setting. Nice with clay pots, glass vessels and wood. / Keiko Gallery - Japanese artists

Jorie Johnson (Joi Rae): Gourd Runner I table center/tatami series, natural color and vegetable-dyed wool, flax, kudzu fiber, skeletal leaves. Photo by Toyoda Yuzo.
Surrounded by lots of lovely Japanese ceramics I wanted a new way to initiate conversations between the clay objects, textiles and the room interior.  In order to protect the table top, tray surfaces or tatami from rough ceramic bottoms I designed a group of felt textiles to solve the problem.  Also, the clay, grass fibers, trees and sheep all exist in the same environment so I found that the combination of materials was very simpatico and coordinated naturally together in almost any interior setting. Nice with clay pots, glass vessels and wood.
/ Keiko Gallery - Japanese artists

Jorie Johnson (Joi Rae): My Rising Sun With In: Dark Green carpet series 2011, 106 x 170cm, natural color and acid-dyed wool; Landscape Fragments cushion series 2011, wool felt cover, cotton cushion, suede. Photo by Toyoda Yuzo.  After the March 2011 earthquake/tsunami/reactor explosion I realized that we all look at Japan in a different way. So in reference to the name Land of the Rising Sun, I was working through current queries about my life here in Japan. / Keiko Gallery - Japanese artists

Jorie Johnson (Joi Rae): My Rising Sun With In: Dark Green carpet series 2011, 106 x 170cm, natural color and acid-dyed wool; Landscape Fragments cushion series 2011, wool felt cover, cotton cushion, suede. Photo by Toyoda Yuzo.
After the March 2011 earthquake/tsunami/reactor explosion I realized that we all look at Japan in a different way. So in reference to the name Land of the Rising Sun, I was working through current queries about my life here in Japan.
/ Keiko Gallery - Japanese artists

Interview with Jorie Johnson - Textile artist, Keiko Gallery

Interview with Jorie Johnson (Joi Rae) - Textile artist represented by Keiko Gallery, October 2011

The special feature in partnership with Keiko Gallery includes interviews with 10 Japanese artists represented by Keiko, and many images with their works.

→ This interview is featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue One, Winter 2011-2012.

Ceramics Now Magazine
: From functional, to decorative or aesthetical, your works also vary in techniques and materials. Tell us about your woolen felt creations.

Jorie Johnson: I am drawn to the painterly and sculptural characteristics of feltmaking with its broad capabilities as a “hard textile” but which also lends itself to soft, sensual body wraps.  I like the challenge of completing a work that functions in a practical way as well as becoming an object of aesthetic value. Unlike weaving, each felt piece is disconnected from the next,  so in that way, a seamless, three-dimensional vessel, hat or bag may remind us more of a ceramic form than a textile.

The essential material of wool comes from sheep which grow new fleeces each year and which have served mankind in very isolated regions of the world. I love the natural color of wool, as well as, the possibility to blend it with other fibers, to dye the wool or to over dye a completed piece and manipulate its’ shape through this procedure. Now with years of practice I can approach a work from different angles, theorizing which method works best for an expected results, but while shaping and finishing I am on the alert to pick up on a characteristic born through the process that I never figured on. This spontaneity keeps things very interesting.

Jorie Johnson Textile works - Joi Rae on Ceramics Now Magazine

Jorie Johnson Spring Collection 2011 (beret, vest, skirt, neck wraps), wool, novelty yarn, silk fabric, linen lace fabric, silk cord. Photo by Toyoda Yuzo - View her works

You are using many layering techniques. Can you explain the process of making a new piece? How long does it take?

The matrix of the work is hard to see by the naked eye but while the selected wool fibers start their migration progress they entangle and actually pierce and consume auxiliary materials such as Japanese Washi, silk organza, cotton gauze, skeletal leaves, lace and so on, into the surface of the fabric and become an integral part of the finished fabric we call as FELT. Under optimal conditions (increase in humidity, higher temperatures, change in pH, application of agitation, etc.) and using a selection of different sheep breeds a variety of fabrics result from dense, coarse carpet weight to silky merino blends for sensual neck wraps.

In order to achieve fine fabrics I use many thin layers of carded wool but for the loftier carpets I use coarser wool in thicker layers. Once the design and materials are selected and the shrink factor determined I work as swiftly as possible to complete a piece within a few days as not to cause the wet wool and auxiliary materials to begin to break down.  I have to commit to a “work swipe” as I call it, not to damage the wool, silk or other materials by keeping them wet for too long.

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Interview with Takeda Asayo - Japanese textile artist, Keiko Gallery

Interview with Takeda Asayo - Japanese textile artist represented by Keiko Gallery, October 2011

The special feature in partnership with Keiko Gallery includes interviews with 10 Japanese artists represented by Keiko, and many images with their works.

→ The interviews will be published in the first printed issue of Ceramics Now Magazine. Pre-order Issue nr. 1 - Winter 2011-2012 or subscribe for one year.

Ceramics Now Magazine : You are one of the most appreciated textile artists in Japan, with many awards for your purses. When did you start working with textiles?

Takeda Asayo: I started making purses in 1970 and had my first solo exhibition in a gallery in 1983.

Do you remember how much you asked for the first bag you created to be sold?

It was about JPY 12000 (=$150). That purchase made me confident and gave me the power to go forward.

Takeda Asayo Japanese Textile artist - Ceramics Now

Sculpturesque Purse, 2009, Cotton, leather - View her works

More than 30 years ago, you established your own independent studio for the production of fabric sculpture and bags. What can you tell us about the studio, how it evolved in time?

I would like to create the usable sculpture rather than just looking. I believe that this new concept appeals to many people, so I have been able to continue my style until now.


Your works have an amazing and innovative design which distinguish itself. You carefully chose the fabric material, and you try to make your works to be comfortable and complimentary to the human body. Doing all that, you find a balance between functionality and design. How?

Our body of work consists in many curved lines, so I always consider that the shape and lines of my purses can harmonize with our body line. I prefer to improvise rather than using the fixed patterns. That makes my purses comfortable to wear.

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Jorie Johnson (Joi Rae): Olympia Series Jacket 2006, wool, leather. Photo by Kobayashi You.I love making asymmetrical collars and also working the edge of a piece to produce a soft “washi” paper effect rather than a hard cut edge. Here also, the bits of color were laid between the black wool base and the white top layer before the felting process began to help emphasize the collars and jacket edges. My influence came from the Central Asian nomadic herders coats but with a little Joi Rae Textiles twist. Stitched pocket flap and felt rope closure. / Keiko Gallery - Japanese artists

Jorie Johnson (Joi Rae): Olympia Series Jacket 2006, wool, leather. Photo by Kobayashi You.
I love making asymmetrical collars and also working the edge of a piece to produce a soft “washi” paper effect rather than a hard cut edge. Here also, the bits of color were laid between the black wool base and the white top layer before the felting process began to help emphasize the collars and jacket edges. My influence came from the Central Asian nomadic herders coats but with a little Joi Rae Textiles twist. Stitched pocket flap and felt rope closure.
/ Keiko Gallery - Japanese artists