Musubi Kame Vessel II

Takahashi McGil

Musubi Kame Vessel II by Takahashi McGil is part of the ‘Plant Explorations’ collection, facilitated by The New Craftsmen. Earlier this year, The New Craftsmen invited a select group of craftspeople to the Economic Botany Collections at Kew Gardens to examine and creatively respond to a myriad of objects and their narratives. For this piece, Takahashi McGil were inspired by an Ethiopian wooden milk container, with two handles and a rope through the handle. They found that many of the items which caught their attention were related to liquids, with water being the most essential. Takahashi McGil’s vessel has five small handles to hold a bespoke, handmade rope made from willow bark. The rope not only relates to the milk container but is also associated with Japanese ‘shimenawa’ rope, traditionally made from rice straw or hemp. It can be found all year round, but especially for New Year and celebratory events, shrines and spiritual places. The rope is handmade using willow bark and cherry, with great assistance from renowned basket maker Hilary Burns.

Material: Urushi, slate, rope, cherry bark, willow bark
cm: Width 30cm, Depth 25cm, Height 19cm
inches: Width 11.8in, Depth 9.8in, Height 7.5in
Care Instructions: Dust with lint free cloth. Do not leave in strong sunlight, in very dry places or near direct heat sources.


The vessel was turned on a lathe from one piece of local unseasoned (green) London Plane from Torquay, Devon. The handles were carved after turning on the bowl. The piece was then finished with sabi-urushi, which is a mix of Japanese urushi lacquer (tree resin from Toxicodendron vernicifluum tree) mixed with ground slate and clay from Kyoto, Japan. It is applied in layers, with each layer cured in a humid and warm box.
The Maker Takahashi McGil Woodworker - South West England

Based in their studio in South Devon, woodworkers Mark McGilvray and Kaori Takashi-McGilvray began making simple pieces purely for themselves but their craft has now happily become their livelihood. The husband and wife duo are both graduates of Fine Art at Wimbledon School of Art; with Mark originating from South Africa and Kaori from Japan. From homeware to furniture, they both work on the same pieces, layering up multiple processes and techniques to create complex pieces, all while retaining a feeling of ease and simplicity.