Fiber Artists Yuko Inagaki and Phet Netikone
Jamaica Plain has its own alternative to Dice-K fever and the current interest in all things Japanese. JP resident and artist Yuko Inagaki creates a line of hand made functional aprons using exquisite fabrics purchased in Japan. “Vintage kimonos are my first choice for fabrics but they are hard to come by, so I do buy cottons in Japan that have a vintage, ethnic or Japanese character to them,” she notes.
As a child, Inagaki was always encouraged to draw. Her family moved to the States from Japan in the ’80s. She didn’t speak English but found art was a comfortable way to express herself. After graduating from Mass. College of Art with a degree in graphic design, she stayed in the Boston area. “I love old cities and the architecture of Boston,” she said. She balances full time work as a graphic designer while creating her aprons in a studio in her home.
Her training taught her that form follows function, and her designs reflect this philosophy. She said, “I would go out but didn’t want to carry a bag, so I created an apron where I could put my wallet and cell phone for quick trips to the market.”
Her products marry form and function beautifully. They also sold like hot cakes at her first Open Studios in JP last fall where she shared a booth with her friend and fellow artist Phet Netikone. “Open Studios was an unbelievable experience. I was encouraged to pursue this more intensively.”
Netikone is a Somerville resident who designs handbags full-time in a studio in her house. Netikone also graduated from Mass. College of Art but with a degree in fashion design. “I focused on evening wear, but the fashion world is difficult to jump into,” she noted.
Netikone managed a retail store in Beacon Hill before launching her business and focusing on handbags two years ago. She found unusual inspiration in a paper bag of chocolates: “I loved the shape of this bag so I cut it apart and used it for the pattern of my first handbag,” she said.
Phet feels fortunate to pursue her work, saying, “It’s an amazing thing when you choose to do something creative and you have the time to dedicate to it. It makes you happy.”
Inagaki and Netikone teamed up for Open Studios to introduce their work to a different market. Netikone remembers, “Even though the weather was not so good, there was a good turnout and it was nice to see the effort to support the artists. This audience really appreciated the handmade products and has a good understanding about quality and design.”
The artist friends will team up again with two other artists to host a casual open house and sale on Sun., May 20. For hours and directions, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her website at www.phetnikone.com. Otherwise, look for these two again during the JP Open Studios this fall.
Jamaica Plain Open Studios is an annual free weekend-long celebration of the arts where over 200 artists display and sell their original work. This year, Open Studios occurs Sept. 29-30. Visit www.jpopenstudios.com or call 943-7819 for more information about the event, participating artists and volunteer opportunities.
The writer is the coordinator of Jamaica Plain Open Studios.