A darkened room with mood lighting and a pleasant aroma is a good setting for many things, and this time it was perfect for an exhibit of aroma bottle lamps. I couldn’t imagine what a bottle lamp would be like when I first heard about it, much less that it would be a real bottle that could hold water and aroma oils. Kim took me to the 410 Gallery at Kawabata Shopping Arcade in Nakasu and introduced me to Shigyou Seiji san, inventor of the aroma bottle lamp and the reason for the exhibit.
410 Gallery is one fairly small room and there were a handful of people there when we arrived. Normally, being in an all-Japanese environment, especially with professionally artistic people, makes me self conscious and nervous, but Shigyou san is so nice and easy going it’s hard not to relax around him.
The exhibit was a collaboration with Shigyou san and artists he invited to design bottles. He showed me several he made and explained the process.Apparently it took quite a bit of trial and error with a number of types of bottles.
The first major challenge was getting a light bulb into a bottle. His website,http://sokonukekoubou.com has a video of the ingenius clamp and jig arrangement he’s made so he can use a drill press to cut a hole in the bottom of the bottle. Not just any bottle will do, however, and a fair amount of research went into getting the right type. Shigyou san explained in an interview with Kim that he ended up inventing a lot of the process because he couldn’t find anyone to do it for him.
Having overcome the obstacles of etching designs on a glass bottle and then getting a light bulb inside, someone then asked if it wasn’t possible to put water in. Well, it is now and that means you can add drops of aroma oil to the water. The heat from the light bulb heats the oil giving the scent you choose and the light refracted through the water gives a nice glow to any room.
Now the design and fabrication process are established and Shigyou san is on a mission to create art. His own designs are very beautiful and he’s encouraging other artists to create bottle lamps. In the exhibit I attended there were many beautiful ones ranging from black-light like to pastel to Tokyo Olympic and old movie designs. Virtually any design can be etched on the bottle, and colored glass or objects can also be attached. His assistant for the exhibit,Gin Souda, made really beautiful blue bottles. All bottle lamps come with a Tokushima cedar base that enhances their beauty.
Please keep an eye out for aroma bottle lamps made by Sokonukekoubou. They will be heirlooms someday and are a unique piece of art.If you read Japanese you can read about them, and Shigyou san, at the crafts market site imacocokara.com and Shigyou san’s site,sokonukekoubou,com. Even if you can’t read Japanese, you can see some good pictures.