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Tsuchiya Tissue Box Cover

A Commonplace, Yet Powerful Object

「土屋小姐非常喜愛布料,她說自己在織完一塊布後,會花很多時間去凝視、觸摸。在與布料相處的時候,她突然想到『或許可以用布把面紙包起來』,於是就誕生出這個面紙套。土屋小姐讓我看到她貼近生活、而非展現個人的創作態度。」—— 三谷龍二,《咖啡杯、掃帚有時還有蒼蠅拍,我們的日常感美學好時代》


屈指一算,我所擁有的由土屋美恵子製作的布藝品原來也不少,除了面紙套,還有大布袋、鍋墊、杯墊等等。跟這些物品接觸多了,便漸漸明白為什麼三谷龍二說土屋小姐的作品是「貼近生活、而非展現個人的創作態度」。日常使用這些物品時,它們都看似毫不顯眼,卻又不知不覺地成為會在日常的靜默時刻讓人看得出神的角色。有時候在手裡搓著這些布藝品,心裡便不禁非常羨慕能夠擁有一雙巧手製作它們的土屋小姐;很奇怪地,它們亦同時讓我想起了瑞蒙.卡佛(Raymond Carver)曾在一篇文章提及:「在一首詩或是一篇短篇小說裡,以極其平淡卻又精準的文字描述平凡事物,並賦予此等事物既龐大又驚人的力量,絕對有此可能;即使那被描述的是一張椅子、窗簾、叉子、石頭,又或是一副耳環。」


“Miss Tsuchiya loves fabric very much. She said that once she has finished weaving a piece, she would spend a lot of time gazing at and touching it. While she was spending time with her fabric, a thought suddenly came to her mind, “Perhaps I could wrap a tissue box with it.” That was how this tissue box cover was born. Miss Tsuchiya has shown me the kind of artistic attitude which is about being close to life, instead of showing off her personal creative style.” – Ryuji Mitani, A Coffee Cup, a Broom and Sometimes a Fly Swatter, Our Good Old Everyday Artistic Era

I also have the tissue box cover mentioned by Mitani here, and it’s placed on the top of a wooden cabinet in my living room, so that I can easily grab a piece of tissue paper whenever I need to wipe my little son’s face and mouth. While I was searching for Miss Tsuchiya’s website on the Internet, I saw a photo of her weaving machines on the homepage. They sit quietly in her workshop. Further back in the room there is a square-shaped window with a nice view of abundant green trees. I walked over to the cabinet and placed my fingers on the tissue box cover. In my mind I saw Miss Tsuchiya sitting quietly near the window, with a piece of newly weaved fabric placed on her lap. Perhaps it was midsummer time then, and the cicadas were screaming outside. The gentle hands of Miss Tsuchiya started speaking softly with her fabric, and this scene somehow resembles a newborn baby snuggling closely in its mother’s arms. 

Come to think of it, I own quite a few items made by Miss Tsuchiya. Apart from the tissue box cover, I also have her large linen shoulder bag, some pot holders and coasters. As I spent more time with them, I began to understand what Mitani meant when he said the items made by Miss Tsuchiya are about “being close to life, instead of showing off her personal creative style”. When you are in contact with them on a daily basis, they might at first seem inconspicuous, but unwittingly they would make you gaze at them for a long while. Sometimes when I hold such an item in my hand, I can’t help but admire Miss Tsuchiya’s talent, and strangely some of the words which Raymond Carver once wrote in an essay slowly creeps into my mind, “It’s possible, in a poem or a short story, to write about commonplace things and objects using commonplace but precise language, and to endow those things – a chair, a window curtain, a fork, a stone, a woman’s earrings – with immense, even startling power.” 

Perhaps the tissue box cover, the shoulder bag, the pot holders and coasters are all little poems written by Miss Tsuchiya. Our ordinary life is warmly wrapped by her beautiful fabrics; every stitch and thread elegantly describes the wonderful commonplace things in our everyday setting. If I could have read how Carver would write about the objects made by Miss Tsuchiya, that would surely be the most beautiful thing.