Artist Creates Geta Japanese Wooden Clogs with a Pop Art Twist
12:00 JST, September 8, 2023
Artist Chie Suzuki gives geta their first step to a big makeover. She turns the traditional footwear into retro yet pop art using motifs such as cats, pandas, flowers, fish and girls.
The geta artist presents about 10 new works every year and has created over 300 designs so far. Each half of a pair is given different designs but form a single image when together.
“I want to make geta that I have fun making and that wearers feel proud of wearing,” she said.
Cats and mice sumo wrestling across the sandals’ body give a lively, ukiyo-e feel. Little pandas relaxing on bamboo look cute. A retro-looking girl with bright red lips surrounding her appears coquettish. Suzuki said she was inspired by many things, such as landscapes of where she traveled as well as movies.
Born in 1974 in Shizuoka Prefecture, Suzuki has loved drawing since childhood and likes shoes. “Geta is a perfect canvas that incorporates both passions,” she said.
After graduating from a vocational school, she worked for a shoe manufacturer and studied design, but quit to make her original shoes. Fascinated with geta, she learned how to make the wooden footwear from a craftsman in Shizuoka and started her own business in 2010. Suzuki has also held exhibitions at department stores nationwide.
She draws a rough sketch in pencil directly on a plain wood body, draws an outline with paint, and colors the wood body with chemical dyes before finishing with urethane coating to make the geta chip-proof.
The straps are creative, too. Some are designed to match the clogs’ patterns, while others have lace or sequins attached.
“Straps stand out the most when they are worn, so I want to be attentive to detail,” she said.
Customers can choose the combination of clogs and straps. They are made to order so it can take up to six months for delivery.
Geta are a traditional kimono item, but many of Suzuki’s customers wear them with regular clothes.
“Geta are often thought to be summer footwear but can actually be worn in any season,” said Suzuki. She recommends wearing them with tabi or split-toe socks in autumn and winter.
Fewer people are seen wearing geta today. “Geta look hard to walk in, but they come in various shapes,” she said. “I hope people feel that they are wearing their favorite artwork.”
Suzuki also produces geta art works that are not for sale.
One of her representative works is the acrylic “Cinderella.” The clog — featuring goldfish swimming along cherry blossoms — is not part of a pair.
“Yoineko” (Drunken cats) have a pair of solid cats, with one holding a bottle of sake and the other a masu square wooden sake cup. The cats have funny expressions on their faces.
The colorful “Getarte” realistically reproduces oranges and berries as if on a tart and cookies.
Suzuki said she has already sold bags and in the future would like to release clothing and other pieces that go well with her footwear.
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