I made Sunae art on Candlemaker Row. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d be writing! Hannah Zakari is my favourite art and jewellery shop in Edinburgh; it’s where I bought my much-loved Rosita Bonita shell necklace, and it’s where I got to meet LA-based Japanese Sunae artist Naoshi this weekend.
Sunae is the word for ‘sand art’ in Japan, and Naoshi creates vividly colourful characters using the fine grains of dyed sand pressed onto a Sunae-board. The result is a medley of whimsical artworks that sparkle and pop as light hits the individual grains.
I had never heard of the art form before, but Naoshi grew up with it and told me that her Mum now ships the sand to her in LA. She is so skilled at it, that the entire Hannah Zakari August window display has been designed using her Sunae art! I love the cloud with the colourful raindrops, it’s very Edinburgh.
I sat down beside Naoshi and examined the tiny glass bottles of sand in the most vibrant hues. With my selected Sunae-board on the table in front of me, Naoshi began instructing me on how to peel back the protective layer bit by bit to reveal each shape on the cat. The most important thing to remember is that you must always work from dark colours to light, as it’s incredibly difficult to modify the colour once it’s on the Sunae-board. Think of it like the masking tape you put on your walls before painting, except you’re working with sand and a very sticky surface!
After giving it a go, I’m in admiration of how skilled Naoshi is at her craft. Her Sunae art had no rough edges or uneven patches of sand, and instead each line was razor sharp and expertly defined like a drawing. The shapes and characters she creates are otherworldly, bamboozling and fun!
My Sunae art is going on my wall, but these would make cute birthday presents for friends or family. You can even buy yourself a little kit to make one of the characters at home. Inside is a toothpick to help you peel off the protective layer (although an artist’s blade makes the job a lot easier), coloured sand, your Sunae-board, and a little tie to gift wrap your finished piece back into the bag it came in. Here’s my finished masterpiece, I know you love it.