Seventeen years cycle cicada, 2016

Added on by Yoko Sekino-Bove.

At the end of May, 2016, my backyard is covered by cicada shells. This group of cicada is called Brood V, they spend seventeen years before crawling out to the ground to breed. The most surprising thing about this black and red cicada to me is not only that they spent that long time in the dark, but how tiny and subtle they are. I got used to the super-loud, large, brittle and aggressive Japanese cicadas (one of the few insects in the metropolitan Tokyo area) with only three years cycle, finding out how small and quiet the seventeen year periodical cicadas are was quite a surprise. When I was in a grade school, I learned that the North America has seventeen and thirteen years cycle cicadas (only place in the world) and wanted to see them. Never thought that dream comes true, but Western Pennsylvania is THE place to be for the special seventeen years cycle cicadas.

This is a very special occasion, and for the first two days, I was thrilled to see them. Then they kept coming out from the soil and promptly covered the yard. It was just creepy to see this volume of one species of insects, like a horror movie. Each cicada is kinda cute and romantic to think how ling they spent in the ground for this hatching day, but there are just toooooo many.

My great advisor Ms. Varian Wolf, who is also the gallery manager of Charlie Cummings Gallery, came for rescue (again), and suggested maybe I ought make artwork about it. What a great idea! Sleeping in dark and dreaming about the day to see the world, for a long, long time. Anything could go wrong in that seventeen years, and only the survivors can come out to see the actual world above the ground, just for a few days. What a story to tell, right?

They are still out there and living their short, miraculous life right now. Their lives should be celebrated, and I think the pillow series would be the best to deliver a story on their long waits and sleeps in dark. They remind me how fragile the life is more than anything. What kind of dreams have they had in that seventeen years?

So grateful that I have the chance to see the cicadas, and I swear I will never cut down trees unless it's desperately necessary in my yard from now on. I will never know how many cicadas are relying on that tree to survive for the next seventeen years.

Upcoming NCECA 2016 Kansas City

Added on by Yoko Sekino-Bove.

The next NCECA conference will be the big 50th anniversary one in Kansas City, MI. I am excited to be a part of it as much as everyone. I have never been in Kansas City, so this will be a great opportunity to visit all the museums, galleries, and exhibitions to see what's going on there.

NCECA granted me an opportunity to present a thirty minutes demonstration at their K-12 room. The theme is of course my "30 minutes teapot", originally designed for K-12 classrooms. My turn will be on Friday, March 18, 2016, from 1:15pm to 1:45pm, at 3501 G&H. Please stop by during the conference if you are coming, at least you can enjoy the post-lunch nap on a chair.

This conference will be my third one to participate, but the first one to be a presenter or participate to the whole event. I was a volunteer at the NCECA Pittsburgh in 2008, and went to NCECA Indianapolis 2004 for one day, so it's been a while. There will be so many exhibitions and events to see, but more than anything, I cannot wait to see the clay friends I don't have a chance to see often enough. And meeting new people.

I hope you are coming to the conference in Kansas City, and if so, please say hi to me when you see me. I am looking forward to seeing/meeting you in person!

Happy Spring!

Added on by Yoko Sekino-Bove.

In every late April, Washington, PA is full of flowers. Daffodils, Cherries, Muscalis, Tulips, Violets, Dandelions, Magnolias, and Forsythias, everything blooms at once. It had been cold all the way to mid-April, nothing was happening, then, one day, every bud from every plant opens together.

When I grew up in Tokyo, daffodils and plums were the first ones to open in February, Forsythias in two weeks, then Cherry blossoms by mid March. Tokyo has many good spots to see magnificent Cherry blossoms, and every school has a group of them as well. The national news forecast the best days to see famous spots everyday, there were food stands and light up at night for the people to enjoy the blooms after work, it was like a festival. Many people take a trip just to see the famous blooms in different regions. When the petals fell, it was like a snow storm. Standing under a Cherry tree and looking up to see the flowers blown apart made me so melancholic every time. Remembering the Japanese Cherry blossoms makes me miss Japan more than any time of the year.

The white decorative cherry trees (the flowers look more like pear flowers to me) are everywhere in Pennsylvania. My house has a few tall, old cherry tress as well. The way they bloom amazes me every time, each tree turns into a white, fluffy cloud. I wish I could incorporate the flower design into my work. It would be nice if all the cherry flowers in my sketchbooks can bloom on my pots.

For the tenth anniversary of our marriage, we planted three peach trees in our backyard this year. They said peach trees start producing right away, so I may be able to enjoy the fruits in a few years. I hope you would be enjoying the Spring and all the blooms where you live, feeling happy to spend some times outside.

Trip to Munich, Germany

Added on by Yoko Sekino-Bove.

My husband/metalsmith Jim Bove became one of the six American metalsmiths/jewelry artists whose work were accepted by "Schmuck" Jewelry exhibition in 2015. It is one of the oldest and most renowned jewelry shows in Europe, quite an honor for him to be a part of it. 
Luckily, the exhibition and the contemporary craft fair that hosts the exhibition happen in the middle of March, when my husband's school is in the Spring break. Also, we have an excuse of calling this trip as our ten year anniversary (well, it's actually in May 2015, but two months is not much compared to ten years). So we decided to go to Germany to see the exhibition in person.

I am so excited to visit Germany for the first time, seems like Munich has so much to offer. While in grade schools, my history textbooks focused so much on the World War II and Berlin, but Bavaria region has been a major European player for a long time. I cannot wait to see it! And try their beers.

There will be many craft exhibitions and gallery shows in Munich during the craft fair. I will report back the front-line of European contemporary craft soon!

Happy Valentine's Day

Added on by Yoko Sekino-Bove.

It has been a while since the last entry, and I haven't updated the glaze formula section yet. During winter, I switch to the hibernation mode and spend most of time thinking about fun things. Also, it's physically harder to make ceramics, since I don't have an indoor spray booth. Did you know the glaze freezes in 15 minutes inside of a spray gun outside? For the first few winters in Pennsylvania, I thought my fingers would freeze off while spraying outside in 10 F. Now I make only small pieces that I can dip during winter. Lesson learned.

Anyway, during winters, I do other things such as reading and messing up the house. My specialty is bringing back lots of half-dead plants from DIY stores. They have a gardening section, but nobody takes care of the plants, so they end up selling half-dead plants for half price quite often. I have a soft spot on anything half-dead, whether they are stray animals or abandoned plants. Our house is full of former half-dead plants, taking up all the windows in the warmest room, where my former injured feral cat lounges all day.

The most dangerous time for me is just after holidays, such as Christmas and Valentine's Day. These shops discard the unsold flower pots by mounds, I have to avoid going to the stores to prevent buying them all. How can I let these poor plants die in vain? Don't they deserve the second chance?

I wish you a happy Valentine's Day, and stay away from these DIY stores that sell half dead plants.

A Happy New Year 2015 and the new year's resolution

Added on by Yoko Sekino-Bove.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, and now ready for the new year.

There are so many projects I should be working on, and hard to pick just one or two, but I have been telling myself that I should update this blog contents more often in 2015. It was a bit abstract for me to imagine the people who are reading this (or believing there is anyone doing it), but some very nice people sent me a note of encouragement recently. It motivates me a great deal to learn that there are people who like my work and tell me so, in this vast universe of Internet. Thank you for taking your time to write to me, your support and encouragement.

Sometimes in this winter, I would like to re-organize the glaze formula section first, please write down the formulas you like. There are more formulas I would like to share, more photos that show the colors and textures.

Then, I would like to start uploading more process photos. Sometimes I fee like the magic is more magical if I don't know how it's done, but then, we are all on the same boat, it would be great if you get some useful information from my process (not that I do utilize special techniques). I wish I knew how to make video clips, there are many tips that can be explained easily on short video clips. Well, for now we have to make it work with photos, but in the future, I would love to share some video if there is any volunteer.

Thank you for reading this, and I wish you a healthy, exciting new year with lots of adventures!

The upcoming Holiday Season shows

Added on by Yoko Sekino-Bove.

In Fall 2014, there will be several exhibitions and sales that include my ceramic work. Each exhibition presents a group of fabulous ceramic artists and their amazing work, I am quite honored to be a part of the show and excited to see them. Please stop by at the shows if you have a chance, I hope you will find something special for yourself or someone to you.

Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis, MN Nov. 23rd, 2014 - Jan. 4, 2015 "2014 Holiday Exhibition and Sale"


Brentwood Arts Exchange at Gateway Arts Center, Riverdale, MD (outside of DC), Nov. 3 - Dec. 27,


Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, Washington DC, Oct. 31st - Dec. 20th, "Urban Bungalow"


Asia Institute Crane House, Louisville, KY, "Poking the Lilies Pad" exhibition, Oct. 24th to May 9, 2015


Also there is a gallery that has the online shopping access in Florida.

Charlie Cummings Gallery, Gainsville, FL (year-around) Bliss Point - Yoko Sekino-Bove : Charlie Cummings Gallery

I hope you will enjoy the Fall in your area, and plan lots of fun events with your family and friends in this holiday season.

Fall 2014

Added on by Yoko Sekino-Bove.

After the amazing Summer in Wisconsin, I came back home in Washington, PA. My sincere thank you to everyone at John Michael Kohler Art Center and Kohler, Co., for your hospitality and generosity. I had a wonderful experience and learned so much. And Wisconsin is so much fun! I would recommend everyone to check on the Arts/Industry program, and see if you would come up with a dream project.


And now after enjoying the super Harvest moon, I feel like the Fall is starting. The days got shorter already, the leaves are turning red and yellow, and it's getting chilly in the morning. The time flies so fast when we have fun. I am already thinking about the upcoming holiday season, and what kind of new work I can present. There are many good ideas floating in my studio, I just have to catch them. I will upload the list of the galleries that will carry my work in the upcoming holiday season, with some images of new work soon. Til then, have a wonderful Fall and enjoy the changes. Take care and keep yourself warm and comfy at night!

Thank you for your input

Added on by Yoko Sekino-Bove.

Thank you very much for your input about what to do with the failed pots. It's nice to learn that we all have the issue and try to solve it by teaching each other. Please keep posting if you have any good idea to share. Thank you!

Studio cleaning

Added on by Yoko Sekino-Bove.

This week I am cleaning my home studio, very reluctantly. Before leaving to Kohler residency at Sheboygan, WI, this has to be done. For the first time in nine years.

Usually I am a bit whiny about how small my studio is, but this is the time to get down to my knees and thank the destiny for the size of my space in the basement. Small is good! My excuse was always "but there is a deadline coming up soon" but finally this time, I took care of all the loose end first and now the last firing was done, it's time to put a dust mask on.

By the way, what do all the other potters do with their failed pots? Do they just throw away? Or is there any way to recycle them? Please let me know if you know a good way. I used to use them as a flower pot, but it's not fun to look at the failures (and lots of them) everyday. Besides, most of the shapes are not quite flower pot friendly. So far, I am just making a giant pile of pots in a corner of the backyard, but one day something has to be done. It's a shame to waste them, I hope we can turn them into something useful.

The cleaning is not done yet, but the space expanded to twice the size already. When I come home in September, it will be less shocking comparing to the size of Kohler factory. I will be posting more often about how the residency goes this summer, I wish your summer goes well too. To be continued!

Happy 19th Anniversary, America!

Added on by Yoko Sekino-Bove.

On April 23rd, 1995, I moved to the United States from Japan. I started as an international student in Los Angeles, so it was not an official "migration" from the immigration office's view, but I was determined to stick around.

Coincidentally, that was the same day the Japanese baseball player Mr. Nomo came to the Major League, as the first Japanese baseball player. Of course he got the whole package of the legal states, personal translator, a great opportunity and everything I didn't have, but it was exciting all the same (and I was not under any performance pressure). I thought I will do my best as much as he does, felt like we are on the same boat.

It has been a great adventure, for the last 19 years. I used to think I did so well, but now I look back, I was more lucky than anything else, lucky to meet so many wonderful people who generously helped me. Los Angeles, Oklahoma, Maine, West Palm Beach, Pennsylvania, Minneapolis, there are always people who gave me a chance to take, a hand to hold, and a home to stay. Especially the fellow potters and ceramic artists everywhere, without their communities, I wouldn't be here today. My first ceramic classes at Glendale Community College and the people there are still one of the warmest memory to me, how they welcomed a foreign student who couldn't even understand what they were saying.

And you too, thank you so much for your support. So grateful that you are interested in my work and taking your time reading this. Thank you for reminding me that we are all connected and sharing the time, thank you for reminding me that the life is still a great adventure. One more year to my unofficial twenty years anniversary, and it's still a long way to go.


The year I was born/died

Added on by Yoko Sekino-Bove.

Through this website, I received an inquiring e-mail today. It was deep in its own way, thought I should share it with you.

Subject: Assignment

Message: Hey,
I have an assigmment on cultural artists and your art was one of our topics that we could choose. We need to include brief information about the artist, including the year they were born/died. Trying not to be creepy, but... when were you born?


Today at 8:33 AM

Hi Riley,

Thank you for the e-mail and your interest.
I was born in 19XX, and have no plan of dying anytime soon. I will let you know when it occurs.
Good luck with your assignment.



When I have shown the original inquiry to my husband/man muse Jim, he suggested to tell him "I died three years ago." This is why I got married with him, but turning this into a creep contest may not be civic. The question on my side is the "cultural artist" reference, are there any non-cultural artists? Do they make non-cultural artwork? I suppose the word was supposed to suggest "artists from other cultures" but made me think about the American culture (or non-existing of it, according to this wording). He made my day.


The original Fragile Immortality

Added on by Yoko Sekino-Bove.

Today, Feb. 17th, 2014, I was so surprised to find out that there is another "Fragile Immortality" out there. My piece was originally made in 2008, a vase with a giant, fat goldfish challenging you. The "other" Fragile immortality is a music album released by the band "The Unguided" in January 2014. It must be once-in-a-lifetime coincidence! It seems like they a heavy-metal band, my husband Jim knew about them. It's probably not a good idea for me to post the album jacket, but if you are curious, you can google the word "Fragile Immortality" and their jacket totally dominate the scene.

Thanks Google, for allowing me to find it out. I didn't wanna know.

A happy new 2014

Added on by Yoko Sekino-Bove.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season with your family and friends, and now are ready to tackle the new year. I wish 2104 will bring you all the joy, happiness, and exciting adventures!

There will be many exciting shows coming up for me, 2014 gives me great opportunities already.

Upcoming shows 2014:

"fiftea: 14th Biennial Teapot Exhibition" Craft Alliance, St. Louis, MO, Jan. 10 - March 23, 2014

"White Gold: The Appeal of Lustre" Racine Museum, Racine, WI, Feb. 9 - July 6, 2014

"Within and Without" Red Lodge Clay Center, March 7 - April 25, 2014

"Distilled Essences II" Charlie Cummings Gallery, Gainsville, FL, March 1 - April 4, 2014

Solo show at Charlie Cummings Gallery, April 4 - May 5, 2014

"8th Annual Yunomi Invitational" AKAR Design, Iowa City, IO, April 25 - ?


Holiday Season 2013

Added on by Yoko Sekino-Bove.

Hard to believe it’s already close to the holiday season again! To studio artists, this is a good, productive time of the year to make more, ship more, and make more again. We are so grateful that there are people who think about buying crafts and arts as a gift, for themselves and/or for someone precious to them. I believe the old saying “Everything we touch, it touches us”, and a piece of hand-made art is not just a property but is a reliable, comforting companion. Like a long-time pet, it’s always there and cheering me up every time I touch. My work may not be perfect in a conventional meaning, but just like my cat is perfect to me, every hand-made craft is perfect to someone. It’s more about matching chemistry, I think. I hope you will find a perfect piece for yourself, which will make your day everyday.

In this holiday season, there are several galleries that present my work. I hope you have a chance to see the new work! Please contact me if you have any questions (especially technical ones) at yokosekinobove (at) If you would like to inquire, please contact the galleries.

AKAR design, Iowa City, IA – “30 x 5 Sushi and Me” Nov. 22 – Dec. 6, 2013

be Galleries, Pittsburgh, PA – Two artist show with metalsmith/husband Jim Bove, Nov. 23, 2013 – Jan. 4, 2014 (opening reception: Nov. 23, 2013)

Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, Wilmington, DE – Alternatives Shop featured artist, Dec. 5, 2013 – Jan. 31, 2014 (opening reception: Dec. 6, 2013)

Craft Alliance, St. Louis, MO – Fif-TEA: 14th Biennial Teapot Exhibition at Delmar Loop, Jan. 10 – March 23, 2014 (opening reception: Jan. 10, 2014)

There will be some spectacular shows coming up in 2014, I cannot wait to share the new work with you. I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends, take care and stay tuned!

The Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale (GICB) 2013 in South Korea

Added on by Yoko Sekino-Bove.

From September 27th to October 19th, I will be participating to 7th Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale 2013 (GICB 2013) in Icheon, South Korea. I will be serving as a mentee under Vipoo Srivilasa from Thailand/Australia, with Ann Van Hoey from Belgium and Na Young Lim from South Korea as a team, at GICB’s International Ceramic Workshop Part I: “International Contemporary Ceramics Camp – Encountering the World” for 15 days.

The Workshop itself presents 8 mentors from the all over world, and 3 mentees were selected by and for each mentor, so the total 32 ceramic artists from 15 countries will be working at Gonjiam Ceramic Park in Icheon during the workshop. There will be a ceramic exhibition by all the participants during the workshop as well. It is so generous of Korean Ceramic Foundation to organize this amazing event, and giving me an opportunity to be a part of it.

I am honored and excited to be a part of this international workshop, and determined to report back to you as much as possible. This will be my first time to visit Icheon ceramic town (seems like Icheon is a capital of both traditional and contemporary Korean ceramics), and cannot wait to see their museums, galleries, ceramic research center, studios, and all the things they offer!

And at last but not least, my great appreciation to the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (GPAC) for making this trip possible by awarding me the Artist Opportunity Grant – I will do my best to make this trip as a big step to the next stage in my career. Thank you very much for your support and encouragement.

There will be lots of photos and reports posted in this section this fall, from the workshop and others. Please keep eye on this, and let me know if you would like to see anything particular. Have a wonderful Fall!

Links related to this post:

Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale:

Vipoo Srivilasa:

Ann Van Hoey:

Summer adventures

Added on by Yoko Sekino-Bove.

It has been already two months since my last entry – time flies when we have fun. This summer has been packed with adventures and fun projects, I can barely keep up with them.

From the end of June to mid-July, my husband Jim and I spent three weeks in Japan and South Korea. He even climbed up Mt. Fuji with my mother and cousin (well, I didn’t go). When we came back to the US, to find out our living room ceiling leaking. This is still going despite the great roofer, because he found out there were more problems in the overall roof structure. No leaving books or computers in the living room. Then I spent a week at Touchstone Center for the Crafts to teach one-week workshop. Everything worked out great – wonderful people, good facility, and a very reliable studio person (if you need a good studio tech, he may be available)! In the first four days, we fired five bisque kiln and two mid-range glaze kilns between 10 people. At the end of the workshop, everyone agreed that I should be just honest and name the next workshop as “Yoko’s sweatshop”. I hope everyone in the workshop had a great time as much as I did.

Now I am back to my home and studio, there are two exciting projects going on. “Cup: The Intimate Object IX” at Charlie Cummings Gallery in October, and “Annual 30 x 5 show: Sushi Service” at AKAR Design gallery from November to December 2013. I have never made a sushi serving set before, this is a new challenge! The most difficult part is trying not to think too much. Of course if I say that, it’s already happening, right? I will put the images of the sushi sets when the show opens.

I hope your summer is fruitful and packed with excitement as well. My summer adventures to be continued – stay tuned and don’t touch the channel!

Mubyo Yunomi cup

Added on by Yoko Sekino-Bove.

Mubyo yunomi cup was originally designed for AKAR design’s 2013 Yunomi Invitational show (online only). It was my first time to be a part of this glorious show, so I wanted to create something meaningful and practical. The title “Mubyo” is a Japanese word that can be taken as “six gourds” or “no sickness”, due to the same pronunciations. In the ancient Chinese and Japanese cultures, they said that a gourd has a power to contain extraordinary things as well as ordinary things (water, liquor, seeds and such). It has been believed that gourd’s power is to absorb and conceal evils, so people hanged dry, open gourds at their front doors to suck up all the evils that come to their houses as a prevention.

Six gourds pattern is a Japanese tradition, to keep the people safe and healthy, using the magical power of words. The idea is that if the pronunciations are the same, the different words (concepts) can share the power, like electricity travels through conductors and still retains the same power. For yunomi cup, which is one of the most common tableware in the Japanese daily life, I wanted to send a message of best wishes to the future users. Six gourds cup will protect and keep the users healthy, through physical contact everyday. The gourds should suck up all the bad energy from the hands like a vacuum cleaner. I think the idea is well aligned with the Japanese custom of drinking green tea the yunomi cup is originally designed for, because the green tea is our elixir. There are many nutrition in green tea to keep you healthy, so, drinking green tea from the six gourds yunomi cup should guarantee you the near-immortal, unbeatable healthy life. I truly wish.

Since I started making this cup and told people what it means, a number of people purchased the cup with surprising urgency. They told me that this will be for themselves and/or their family members. We live in the time with the most advanced medical technology and enjoy all the privileges of various treatments, but symbolism and stories still have some meaning to us. And to maintain our mind’s health as much as physical one, I hope I can offer an idea for the people to enjoy, in a shape of cup as a small amulet.

The Clay Studio solo show opening

Added on by Yoko Sekino-Bove.

There will be an opening reception of my solos show at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia on Friday, June 7th, 2013. I had been working for this show for the last one and half years and being terrified the whole time. It is a great honor to be given this wonderful opportunity, I cannot find a word to express the excitement. This exhibition presents my Genuine Fake China series, ever expanding. I have been working on the theme of communications and universality of cultures in this series, hope you will have a chance to see them and give me some feedback. The opening will be on the Gallery crawl day in Philadelphia, there will be lots of events and show opening that day. The exhibition will stay until July 14th, 2013. I hope you can stop by and see the pieces in person!

Link for the clay studio:

One thing for sure, that I learned so much from this experience. Every time I create a line of work for a solo exhibition, I compare the work with musicians who create albums (are they still creating albums? The music industry changed so much recently, I am talking about the pre i-pods time, please bare with me). Working toward the goal of one presentation, each work should be individual and unique yet balanced with the others to have a cohesive theme. There were so many pieces I wanted to make for this show, but most of them still live only in my sketchbooks. And volume too. This time, I have been at The Clay Studio before and knew how big the gallery was, which was very helpful, but sometimes I don’t even know how many pieces would be the best volume to present. And thank god my pieces are small and not requiring any special installations! Those artists who do installations are so brave – my sincere salute to them. My pieces tend to look so small and little shy at a gallery space, partially because they are designed for someone’s house, not a big, white gallery space. Great gallery managers know the magic and make the show look so sparkly and enjoyable – that’s an art by itself. My sincere thanks to all the gallery managers and assistants, for all of your hard, constant work.

The work in the photo on this page is titled “We gotta play the game with the hands we got” dessert plate set. It’s a functional gaming device for a Western-style dinner party. After the main course, the server can use the dessert plates to serve a dessert without checking the back of plate, randomly. Each plate has a illustration of a hand holding five cards, away from you on the top/front of the plate, with the hands on the bottom/back. Every participant finishes the dessert and clean the plate before flipping the plate to show their “hands”. From the royal straight flash to total flop, there are various hands in the set, so they can decide the winner. The winner will be the king or queen of the night, including the dessert privilege. Each plate is hand-painted with underglaze, no decals.