Spirit of Spring
featured on the cover of the 2011-2012 Jewelry-Maker's Best Sellers Catalog
Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Jewelry-Making Contest
2014 featuring Creative Clays
Bronze Medal Winner
||Meet the Designer-Artist
Eriko's home-studio in scenic Tehachapi, California boasts a cornucopia of her beautiful beads. They burst from baskets, plastic tubs and cubbies arranged by color, style, and of course, favorites. She often has a special bead that she can't part with and as she sneaks it into her pocket says, "No, this one is no good. Let me find you another."
Always striving to invent new techniques, her biggest goal is to push the boundaries of the medium and herself. Eriko has a motto of "Never make the same thing twice." She says the possibilities are endless and will keep exploring tirelessly. She often lays awake at night dreaming up new designs.
Share Your Background
A self-taught polymer clay artist, Eriko trained in handicrafts and arts in Japan where she studied textile and pattern making. In 1998 she discovered polymer clay, though after taking a class she was disappointed and lost interest right away. Coming back to the art later and using a few books as reference, Eriko developed her own voice through the craft and also found a way of expressing her heritage.
Eriko's polymer clay beads are individual works of art. Developing a style similar to appliqué, she layers colors and visual textures to make wearable art. She refers to her technique of layering polymer clay flowers and leaves as "millefiori clay." The style is inspired by the Italian ornamental glass craft of bundling rods of cane glass and fusing them together, resulting in a mosaic flower design. The same technique and theory is used with the polymer medium, but is more clay-like and opaque.
Her work is vibrant, colorful and stylized--it is typical of the Japanese style and spirit. A collection of her mother's kimonos provided the initial spark of inspiration. She says of the kimonos, "On a blank canvas of muted color, highly detailed and colorful patterns are intertwined."
Glass beads are Eriko's biggest source of inspiration and challenge. She loves the luminosity and translucent qualities of glass. She accentuates all of her beadwork with smaller glass beads and crystals, contrasting between matte and glossy. Delicate detail and contrast of bold color is a hallmark of her work, while flowers and leaves are her trademark.
One of Eriko's beads may take up to three days to make, although a few dozen beads are yielded at once. Her larger beads are decorated with flowers, leaves and occasional butterflies. To make a single wing of a butterfly, it takes 13 steps of manipulating the clay. On closer inspection of a butterfly you'll notice tiny details--to mimic the scales on a wing she'll use up to 18 orange, 14 white and 9 yellow "scales," each surrounded by a black frame.
Eriko's amazing "Spirit of Spring" necklace is featured on the cover of our Jewelry Maker's Catalog of Best Sellers for 2011-2012. Featuring her handcrafted "millefiori clay" beads, the inspiration for the piece came to Eriko after the devastating 2011 earthquake in Japan. With family and friends living in the area at the time, Eriko was feeling down and worried about her loved ones. She created "Spirit of Spring" to express to others "not to worry; you're having a hard time now, but spring will come. There is always hope."
Eriko has tried her hand at tailoring and oil-painting and had a small store in Tehachapi, California, selling her handcrafted, sewn and quilted items.
View all of Eriko's designs in the Gallery of Designs.