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Downeast Meets Japan: A 14th-Generation Ceramicist at Home in Maine

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Downeast Meets Japan: A 14th-Generation Ceramicist at Home in Maine

February 11, 2018

Noticed recently: the home of a 14th-generation ceramicist and her partner, a writer and photographer, in the tiny town of Union, Maine. Ceramicist Hanako Nakazato comes from a famous family of potters in the port city of Karatsu, Japan: The area’s famous Karatsu Ware pottery is synonymous with the Nakazato name, and Nakazato’s grandfather, Tarouemon Nakazato XII, was named a Living National Treasure by Japan in the 1970s. Having apprenticed with her father, himself a famous potter, but unable to carry on the family business as a woman, Nakazato opened her own studio, Monohanako (meaning “Hanako on her own”); she and her partner, Prairie Stuart-Wolff, now split their time between Karatsu and Union, a small town just inland from the bustling coastal towns of Camden and Rockport. We’re particularly enamored of the way they’ve inflected their decidedly 1990s Maine home with Japanese style, much like Nakazato’s work, inspired by old Japanese pottery and Maine enamel campware alike. Here’s a glimpse inside.

Photography by Erin Little. Follow Nakazato at @monohanako and Stuart-Wolff @cultivateddays.

Nakazato and Stuart-Wolff found the 90s build in 09 while spending the summer in Maine. &#8
Above: Nakazato and Stuart-Wolff found the 1990s build in 2009 while spending the summer in Maine. “It was nearing the end of August and we had only a few days left in Maine when Prairie found this new listing in Union,” Nakazato says. “We rushed out to see it and fell in love with the feel of the house, the woodwork details, the walls of windows. We had to leave Maine right away but, with the help of a Realtor, we were able to do the inspections and negotiations from afar and our offer was accepted.”

The living area has a woodstove and large windows. Note the coffee table: It’s a soapstone counter from a school science lab, sink included, found at an architectural salvage shop in Vermont. The couple had a local machine shop make an aluminum base for it.

A glass-fronted barrister bookcase—found at an antiques shop near Belfast, Maine—holds Nakazato&#8
Above: A glass-fronted barrister bookcase—found at an antiques shop near Belfast, Maine—holds Nakazato’s ceramics mixed with glassware. “It’s rare to find a barrister bookcase so tall, and we knew it would be perfect for stemware or special pieces that might prefer a little more protection,” Nakazato says. “Maine is far enough away from urban centers that you can still find many antique and vintage gems at reasonable prices.”
Nakazato and Stuart-Wolff converted the existing dining room—and its built-in shelves and drop-leaf writing desk—into a place to display Nakazato&#8
Above: Nakazato and Stuart-Wolff converted the existing dining room—and its built-in shelves and drop-leaf writing desk—into a place to display Nakazato’s work.
Shelves hold Nakazato&#8
Above: Shelves hold Nakazato’s ceramics, which are inspired by Maine and Japan alike.
Stacks of Nakazato&#8
Above: Stacks of Nakazato’s work are cushioned by small cloths to prevent chips and cracks. Nakazato thinks of ceramics like fashion: “I don’t want to wear the same clothes all the time. It depends on your mood; you want to wear something different. It’s the same thing with pottery. I want to use different pottery each day. It depends on what you eat, how you feel, the season,” she told Down East magazine.
A quiet vignette of the couple&#8
Above: A quiet vignette of the couple’s collections.
Nakazato&#8
Above: Nakazato’s ridged bowls in subtle shades.
 The kitchen is tucked beside the staircase; the couple made only a few small tweaks, including installing copper countertops.
Above: The kitchen is tucked beside the staircase; the couple made only a few small tweaks, including installing copper countertops.
Nakazato at work in her Maine studio, a converted garage at the end of a dirt road.
Above: Nakazato at work in her Maine studio, a converted garage at the end of a dirt road.

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