My devotion to stained glass -5

“ZEN”, Tea Ceremony Room at Mr. A’ residence (1988)

This is one of the commissions which I have been very impressed with among my entire works. I obtained this commission 5 or 6 years after I started working in stained glass, and it has given me an influence in various ways later.

At that time, I was just getting interested in Japanese design. I wanted to install a stained glass work in contemporary design with monotone (black and white) into a traditional Japanese tatami-mat room. I wanted to harness the sunlight streaming into the room to make shadows reflected on “SHOJI”, the Japanese paper sliding doors.

I got a well-timed commission from an architect who happened to be one of my close friends. It was a wish come true: he asked me to design a stained glass work for an informal tea ceremony room. I was delighted and spent whole one month drawing out ideas.

My enthusiasm became too much, and I became too self-conscious to do a good design.
I grappled with ideas working every day until dawn, but the right idea didn’t come.
I couldn’t produce anything, no matter how hard I tried. I was in the throes of creation
….and I got impatient. The more I fretted, the more difficult it became for me to draw a design…

I was having a hard time and the deadline was coming closer! I was worn out, I couldn’ help but feel helpless. I still hadn’t completed the disign the day before it was due.
The physical and even more, the mental fatigue was getting to me. I was fed up with this situation and decided to submit whatever I could complete, even if I was not satisfied with it. But I couldn’t keep working and fell asleep. I slept for a few hours.

The design of a monotone circle suddenly appeared in a dream.
I woke up with joy, crying “I’ve finally done it!!”, but it was still a dream.
I finally got up and immediately went to my studio and completed a design of this “Zen” work in 20 minutes before my excitement cooled down and the clarity of the idea disappeared.

From this experience I learned the importance of relaxing, particularly when I have strong expectations of myself, and following my vision spontaneously instead of straining myself to force progress in my work to draw a good design.

This “Zen” work was introduced at the World Glass Congress 1991 Exhibition at Dallas, Texas, U.S. I was glad to hear architects, artists and producers who visited the Congress recognize that the “Zen” work is oriental as well as being original.
It gave me confidence to continue working in stained glass. This ooportunity also allowed my works to be introduced in the book, “Architectural Glass Art”.