Monday, August 5, 2013

A Cup's Journey

Ok, so remember the workshops I talked about a couple posts back? The ones where individuals with disabilities can go to work during the day? Yes, those! Well, I went to visit one just a few blocks from where I am staying. The facility is called Asahi Art. (Asahi means "morning sun" in Japanese.) And like I mentioned before, people here primarily work to decorate dishes that are then sold in a couple local shops.

I sat down with a group of three young guys, probably in their 20's, who were diligently working on gluing small paper shapes on their dishes. They were all quite shy at first, refusing to look up at me besides a quick smile and wave, not too sure what to do with a young, foreign girl talking to them. They let me watch what they were doing and I praised their detailed handiwork. It was beautiful! Then I got to try my hand at decorating a small cup!

My new friends!

The boy sitting across from me, who has Down Syndrome, was working on the same cup so I asked him to show me how to do it. He slowly and carefully used a special tool to pick up a small paper circle from a glue tray and place it in exactly the right spot above a line drawn on the bottom of the cup. Then he expertly dabbed the paper circle with tissue to get rid of the excess glue and water. It looked great! I tried to mimic the meticulous way he worked. After I placed a couple of my own circles, I held it up for his approval. I got a smile and an a-ok from the professional. 

Me and my gluing instructor.

I left the cup in the capable hands of my instructor and chatted with a few other sweet individuals, who were more than willing to pose for a picture.

I even received a couple original drawings from this sweet, young girl!

During this visit I also observed how the adult assistants interact with the artists. I found they are especially attuned to each individual's needs. They are calm and speak soft words of encouragement or correction when necessary. Instead of just verbally telling an artist what to do they use visual, kinesthetic, and auditory communication techniques to make sure the artists understand what areas of the dish need further polishing for example. The assistants help create a very calm atmosphere, which makes the artists feel safe and relaxed. Don't we all like to have a low-stress work environment!?

So, what about the cup? I visited a cute little coffee shop, which has since become one of my favorite places, that sells the dishes made at Asahi Art. Here they are!

Panda bears added by another skilled artist. SO CUTE!
Couldn't resist. I bought these two bowls.
Yeah, might need to buy a couple plates too. :)
Notice the teapot. Also made at Asahi Art!

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