Studio Visit : Hikaru Furuhashi

San Francisco jewelry designer Hikaru Furuhashi has been a mainstay at Little Paper Planes since she launched her first collection in 2013. I’ve worn a golden Halo ring on my index finger for years and I’ve definitely been known to urge customers to “treat yourself!” to a piece of Hikaru’s stunning work.  She makes the kind of minimal, yet subtly intricate jewelry that is meant to be worn everyday and loved dearly, then passed down to a lucky future descendant.  Hikaru’s namesake line is a culmination of her interest in natural landscapes and traditional folk arts. Growing up in the mountains of Japan, she was inspired by the simple shapes and contours of her environment. Later, travel exposed her to the colors, shapes and lines produced by the hands and natural elements of the world.  Her jewelry is lovingly hand-crafted in her Mission district studio using environmentally and ethically responsible methods and materials, such as recycled metals and conflict-free gemstones.

I spent an afternoon photographing Hikaru in her studio and exploring some of her favorite neighborhood haunts.  Stylish, sweet and deeply thoughtful, Hikaru is simply a joy to be around.


How did you find your way to jewelry making? And to San Francisco?

I came to San Francisco from Japan in the very end of 1999 to study. Initially, I wanted to learn filmmaking and after a couple of years of making weird experimental films, I realized I loved working with my hands more, so I studied sculpture, printmaking and design at San Francisco Art Institute.

After art school, I wanted to see and try the other side of US so I moved to NYC and worked as a graphic designer and art director. I always had side projects such as textile design or fabric accessories, and eventually my interest shifted to learning metal-based jewelry making. I took many months of jewelry classes at night after my full-time job and I just loved every minute of it. Since then, I have not stopped designing and making jewelry. I moved back to San Francisco 3 years ago when I officially launched my line.



Scintilliant Studio, Valencia St

“I split my time between the metal studio and home studio. The metal studio is where I work on more messy or noisy tasks such as soldering, hammering and sanding. My home studio is a great place to focus on designing and experimenting with new ideas, and to get lost in long hours of wax carving.”


 Hikaru polished up my well-worn Halo Ring!




Proper studio safety and ramrod-straight posture make for a happy jeweler.


Where do you turn for inspiration when you are designing your collections?

Visiting different parts of the world inspires me the most. I am interested in learning how people’s beliefs and lifestyles relate to folk art and visual culture in various forms – like music, dance, architecture, traditional arts and crafts, street signs, things in the market, old and new, high and low. I like going to places alone so I can submerge myself completely in the unknown. I like to talk to locals, ask questions and take notes. After coming home I do lots of online research to answer all my questions.


Mission Community Market

Barlett St & 22nd St, 4-7 pm every Thursday

“This is a sweet little farmer’s market and I love coming here after working in the studio. I always get some of the amazing mushrooms and strawberries when they are in season!”


Where I grew up wasn’t even a town, it was really a village.  Around age 13, I decided to move in with my grandma in the city. I think since then, I haven’t stopped exploring. I’ve always wanted to see the world, it’s always been my thing.



Garden Creamery

Lexington St & 20th St

“I love taking a quick ice cream break here when friends come visit me in studio. I am lactose intolerant, so the non-dairy, coconut based ice cream here is a real treat. I can’t get enough of their hoji-cha and thai tea ice cream!”




Freshening her lipstick in style.


I know you are quite the traveler- will you share a favorite experience or destination from your travels?

Every country I’ve visited is equally amazing and unique, so it is hard to have a favorite!

Last March, I visited the incredible hill tribe villages in the mountain region of Myanmar where they literally make everything they use or consume in life by themselves. From houses to food to clothing, they harvest and make it all from scratch. In one of the villages, they had blacksmiths and they make machetes and knives using wrought iron and very minimal tools. Their clothing and accessories have distinctively different styles in each ethnic group, and they are all super creative and all hand-made. One of the groups even harvests wild indigo in the mountains to dye their hand-woven fabric, then they hand-sew it to make a garment that they will wear everyday. The lifestyle of some of the ethnic groups are rapidly changing, but the most amazing part to me is that they do all this laborious work for themselves to use, as part of their tradition and identity. It was truly inspiring and I learned so much from their wisdom.


Duc Loi Supermarket

 Mission St & 18th St

“Finding an Asian grocery in Mission area can be challenging, but this place has got it all. They have a great deli counter where you can get delicious Bánh mì and other Vietnamese treats. They are family-owned for 30 years and also have this amazing tradition that they feed hundreds of people in need on Thanksgiving Day!”



 So many fresh herbs; we both got ingredients to make soup for dinner that night!


Bernal Hill

“I spend a lot of time focusing on small details when I work in studio, so seeing the bird’ eye view of the city from the top of hill is a great way to change my perspective. Plus, I’m getting some exercise done while climbing the hill!”



For a precious few minutes, we had the swing all to ourselves!




What are some things you love that have nothing to do with jewelry making?

I love eating international food, and I love watching dance videos on YouTube.

Hikaru Furuhashi x Little Paper Planes

In conjunction with our interview, Hikaru designed an exclusive product for LPP!  You can shop the Rock Paper Scissors Earring Trio here.






Interview and photography by Hannah Tatar.

Now Featuring Mike Slack

Los Angeles photographer Mike Slack began his photo practice with Polaroids. Within that casual instant format, Slack’s work is a rigorous approach to seeing things anew, to looking carefully at space and place. Frequently presented in photobooks, Slack’s carefully-edited photos invite scrutiny to uncover themes and scraps of narrative. He says of his process, “Look first, think later,” which serves just as well to describe the experience of viewing at his photographs.

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MH: I understand you came to photography and publishing in a roundabout way, after your formal education, including college, was over. Can you talk about that process and how you began to take photographs and began to share your work?

MS: I’ve worked in bookselling and publishing my entire adult life and drifted into photography in my late 20s. My frame of reference for art at that time was a jumble of what I’d absorbed through music (Eno, Velvet Underground, Talking Heads, John Cage), monographs I’d discovered at the bookstore where I worked in L.A. (the Bechers, Gerhard Richter, Jim Shaw, Ed Ruscha), and authors I was into (Burroughs, Ballard, Vonnegut).


When I started making Polaroids on road trips for my job around the southwest, it was suddenly, weirdly satisfying to view my immediate surroundings through a lens, to make specific compositions out of what might be considered “nondescript,” to regard everything as a picture — I was excited by the consciousness-enhancing behavior of picture-making.





As the Polaroids accumulated I was also excited to arrange and study the images (cataloging them in portfolios), and I started exploring ways of producing and publishing a physical book, which is what led to Ok Ok Ok and introduced me to the community of indie photobook publishers.

MH: What’s your day-to-day photography process like? I’m curious because some of your projects seem omnivorous and almost like visual diaries (Ok Ok Ok, for example) while Shrubs of Death is obsessive in its focus on one subject, one composition.

MS: Like any kind of exercise, a little bit every day is best, though it rarely works out that way. If a camera isn’t close at hand, a kind of “photo FOMO” creeps up. I make pictures whenever the opportunity presents itself — a walk around the block, a trip to another country, whatever I have time for — and also to spend time every day thinking about what it’s all about and organizing my pictures, trying to stay in that headspace.  Occasionally I’ll drill down into a single subject or composition if it seems to work — as with Shrubs of Death or High Tide — but it’s mainly a practice of slow accumulation, looking and recording, building a vocabulary. Ideas and pictures can come from anywhere really, so it best to just be ready. Most pictures will never have a life beyond their moment of conception, so the more pictures the better: look first, think later.



MH: Photographs, with their literal registration of singular light and time, are still somehow the visual medium I associate most with books — even though books as written documents capture the layered time of edit upon edit upon rewrite. Photobooks are a genre unto themselves. How does the process start for you? And what’s the editing process like on one of your books?

MS: My editing impulse starts when a few disparate images constellate into their own thing, or when it seems like a path might exist through a cluster of images as I’m sorting through the raw files — follow that path, see where it leads. Making the pictures is mostly intuitive and sensuous, often without a clear plan. Editing is a rigorous and a little more analytical, but hopefully the end result still has retains the openness and engagement of the picture-making experience — the result of “edit upon edit upon rewrite.”



One thing about books: they’re hand-held devices, just like most cameras are hand-held devices. Both are calibrated to the personal psychic space around the hands and the eyes and the brain. I think about that space a lot when I’m trying to figure out how to sequence and organize of the pictures I’ve made. Books are intimate by nature.

Another thought: aren’t photographs just a recent evolution of written language? Which may be why photographs work so well in books, the medium we associate most with writing? And why email and texting are so quickly being replaced by Instagram and emojis? Why is using a camera — pushing a button to record, and share, a visual image —such a natural, pleasurable behavior for so many human beings?


MH: Can you expand on photography being an evolution of written language? I find that leap curious, because it doesn’t make intuitive sense to me — there’s something about the way written things unfold in time and images unfurl in an instant that I guess I’m not reconciling. Although I can see the parallel when you talk about the process of editing a group of photos. But I would love to hear the connection you’re making.

MS: There are two ideas I keep looping back to about this. The first is from Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five, which completely shook me up when I read it as a teenager — particularly his depiction of the war-damaged protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, who finds himself “unstuck in time.” He starts to experience all times and events simultaneously as his alien captors (the non-human Tralfamadorians) do. At one point we learn that their books communicate through “clumps of symbols,” each “a brief, urgent message, describing a situation or scene. We Tralfalmadorians read them all at once, not one after another. There isn’t any particular relationship between the messages except that the author has chosen them carefully, so that, seen all at once, they produce an image of life that is beautiful and surprising and deep. There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time. This fictitious idea — a kind of book containing a multitude of specific symbols collapsed into a simultaneous whole — has an obvious resonance with photography and photobooks, and how individual images can be “clumped” and reorganized, disregarding chronological sequence, to create a new kind of “message” that defies the linear/historical thinking inherent in word-based messages. They’re just another kind of text, relieved of the weight of time and history.


The second is from Vilem Flusser’s book, Does Writing Have a Future?, in which he argues that written language essentially evolved out of picture-making (as most alphabetic letters have their roots in pictograms), and that the adoption of alphabets sent human culture down a path of linear-historical/conceptual thinking that may be driving us crazy and limiting our ability to explain the real world to ourselves. Photography is a highly technical form of picture-making, rooted in the same pre-historic impulse that led us to written language in the first place — “inscribing” with light and chemicals (or sensors) instead of with sticks and rocks (or pen/paper, etc), thinking with our eyes instead of with our ears — and photographs are not only technically efficient as messages, they allow us to think and communicate with ourselves and each other in new ways — “[t]he alphabet was developed as the code of historical consciousness. If we should give up the alphabet, it will surely be because we are trying to supersede historical consciousness.”

My casual take on this is that photography fills a kind of communication gap inherent in alphabetic communication — it gives us what writing inherently cannot, a different sensation of space and time: “[i]mages produced with digital codes are present everywhere at the same time (even on the opposite ends of the earth). They can always be called into the present, even in an unthinkably distant future.”

Cheap handheld cameras took off like wildfire in the mid-20th century — Edwin Land saw the Polaroid as fulfilling a kind of human need — and I am a child of that era (I was taking snapshots before I was making art). For me, there’s something about assembling a book of photographs that can stir up the Tralfalmadorian sensation of being “unstuck in time,” which seems very healthy for reasons I’m not sure I even understand.





MH: You used the Polaroid format for a long time and have scaled back on using instant formats now. What did it hold for you when you were using it, and how did you move into other formats?

MS: The Polaroid camera taught me how to look and how to compose a picture in my own way, and allowed me to work quickly and non-technically — that’s exactly what it was designed to do. After making four books out of those prints (around the time that Polaroid went bankrupt), I’d more or less reached the natural end of whatever I’d been doing with that format.

I guess the iPhone is the “instant” format I carry around now, but it lacks the analog sensuality of self-developing film, and I don’t have any deep affection for it. Switching to a digital camera added some complications to the hunting-and-gathering routine — it’s more technical, and dealing with all the files on a backlit screen is kind of a hassle — but I’ve come to terms with it. Lately I’ve been carrying around these cheap little disposable 35mm cameras, just to loosen things up and see what happens, or maybe just to escape the tyranny of immediacy inherent in digital formats. I won’t process a roll until I’ve completely forgotten what’s on it. (“These memories can wait,” as I’ve always misheard the Talking Heads song.)



MH: What are some of the print formats you use? I enjoy that you do some cheap, mass-produced posters that contrast the with preciousness of an editioned darkroom print or a single Polaroid.

MS: My preferred print format is still the book. I’ve been making archival inkjet prints in my little studio downtown. I’ve never worked in a darkroom. Those down-and-dirty laser-print posters started on a whim and I’ve only really sold them at the LA Art Book Fair, until now. I’m surprised and flattered to find that people have been framing them.


MH: I’m curious about how you pair photography and travel. I understand that you make a lot of work trips for your day job. It seems like an ideal combination for someone whose work is so tied to seeing the strange and funny in unmonumental places, because travel can leave you in that perpetual state of orienting yourself visually. How does it play out for you?

MS: Good question, as I happen to be in Berlin this week, and I’ve been waking up at dawn each morning, going out for a random walk around the neighborhood before things get too noisy. There are all these cottonwood seeds blowing around and tumbling out of the sky; it’s otherworldly and impossible to photograph. My last book was a series of pictures I made in five days wandering around New Orleans — not intending to turn them into a book, it just worked out that way.

Being a new and unfamiliar place is exciting because when you see a place for the first time there’s a brief period in which it all seems so strange. You realize — or remember? — that beneath the familiar, predictable surfaces of things, the world is really strange, and everything is interesting (even monumental), even the boring stuff, at every scale. Cameras are especially good at reminding us of this fact (or maybe it’s a fiction).


Albert Riera Galceran


Albert Riera Galceran is an artist from Barcelona, Spain.  He is currently based in London.  His work includes painting, oil pastel drawings, photography and film.  To see more of his work, click here.

McDermott & McGough


“McDermott & McGough consists of visual artists David McDermott and Peter McGough. McDermott & McGough are contemporary artists known for their work in painting, photography, sculpture and film. They currently split their time between Dublin and New York City.

McDermott & McGough are best known for using alternative historical processes in their photography, including the techniques of cyanotype, gum bichromate, salt, tri color carbo, platinum and palladium. Among the subjects they approach are popular art and culture, religion, medicine, advertising, time, fashion and sexual behavior.”

You can see more of McDermott & McGough’s work here.

Images and text from

Mechelle Bounpraseuth

Mechelle Bounpraseuth is a Sydney-based artist who has recently completed a BFA at the National Art School, majoring in Ceramics. Her practice also includes drawing, photography, artists books and zines. Her work has been exhibited at the National Gallery of Australia, Ambush Gallery, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney.
To see more of Bounpraseuth’s work, click here.

Wardrobe Snacks


Wardrobe Snacks is an on-going collaboration between between San Francisco-based photographer Kelsey McClellan and Columbus-based photographer, art director and stylist Michelle Maguire.  Their creative partnership is called Terrence Caviar.

Wardrobe Snacks was inspired by diners lacking the luxury of being seated at a table: Michelle’s stepdad who rests his sandwich on his thigh (hell with a plate!) in between bites while he blasts an action movie on his TV; a commuter cramped up on a crowded bus retrieving an item from a bag or pocket; a lunch-breaker on a park bench eating from her lap. They’re informal — perhaps even a bit awkward — spaces as far as eating is concerned, yet the diner always appears to be comfortable and perfectly satisfied with his chosen snack, almost zen-like.


art direction/styling: Michelle Maguire 

photography: Kelsey McClellan

Stephen Eichhorn


Stephen Eichhorn is a Chicago-based artist.  His first book, Cats & Plantswill be published next month by Zioxla, featuring Eichhorn’s amazing collages of cats, plants, and more.

Obviously, I’ve already preordered my copy.

To see his other work, click here.

Eny Lee Parker


Eny Lee Parker currently resides and works in Savannah, Georgia.

The purpose of her designs is to explore the human need/want. Her fascination with the mind and behavior of people leads to objects that echo humanity in character, emotions and even physicality.

Apart from her design ambitions, she enjoys a creative community, ceramics, occasional wine + cheese, and hosting.

To see more of her work, click here.

Maria Hassabi


“Maria Hassabi (b. Cyprus) is a New York-based artist and choreographer. Over the years she has developed a distinct choreographic practice involved with the relation of the body to the image, defined by sculptural physicality and extended duration. Her works draw their strength from the tension between the human subject and the artistic object, the dancer as a performer and as a physical entity.”

You can see more of Maria’s work here.

Images and text from

Lisa Anne Auerbach


Lisa Anne Auerbach is an L.A. based is an American textile artist, zine writer, and photographer.

To see more of her work, click here.