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En Famille - A visit to ceramicist Linda Hsiao of Knotwork LA's studio

CREATING KNOTWORK LA: 

Originally, Knotwork LA began as a way to identify projects and things my husband and I created in our spare time. Hence the name “Knotwork.” Early on, Kagan and I would tinker in his woodshop on nights and weekends. Ceramics had been a pastime of mine for many years and as the business grew, my ceramic ideas did too and ended up taking over Knotwork and becoming my full time job.

 

SUSTAINABILITY:
My business is doing good. Things have shifted and most of my work was shipped directly to customers last year. It's transforming into a different business model. In many ways, this is better as I shift focus to my online shop. It gives me more opportunity to play with new ideas and offer new products directly to customers, rather than spending all of my time on wholesale production. I would still always love to keep some wholesale, the small shops have been a delightful way for me to reach new customers and new cities. There is still something special about someone discovering my work out in the wild.
 

IMAGINATION:
I'm inspired by the natural world: rocks, trees, mountains, and sand. Other fascinations include the mythical world of folklore, creatures, and the creations of one's imagination. 
PARENTS AND ART:
They were both encouraging in the way most Asian parents are. I had art lessons, swimming lessons, piano lessons, singing lessons but these were all considered hobbies to enrich my life and not vocations. When I got into Art School (Pratt Institute), they supported my decision although they still did not understand what my career or future would look like.  
 

FARMING ORIGINS AND FAMILY INSPIRATIONS:
My parents are some of the hardest working people. My mom started a farm in her backyard growing Chinese vegetables in the 70s and selling them to local restaurants to help pay for their first mortgage. And from there, my parents were one of the first Asian farmers in Southern California growing things from yellow chives, bok choy, bamboo shoots to seedless guava, yellow watermelon, and many more. I think they just don't want to see me work as hard as they did. Like most parents, they just want their children to have a better and easier life. I saw my parents create a massive farm from so little and it was inspiring to see boxes of vegetables head off to Vancouver and NYC. When my mom came back from work, we would go into the backyard where she tended to her garden and her bonsai because her work was also her passion. 


I'd love to raise Saben seeing us work hard loving what we do and hopefully that will lead him to finding the path that leads him to a happy and full life. Although skeptical at first, my parents are very encouraging now especially seeing how my business has grown over the years. But as most parents, they wish I didn’t work so hard and will always, without a doubt, worry about me.

 

VIOLENCE AGAINST ASIAN ELDERS:
It is very scary right now. I have always experienced discrimination but have been able to shrug it off or speak out to the offender. My parents have been nervous since the beginning of the pandemic when some Asian crimes started popping up in Southern California news. Pre-pandemic, my mom would take the train to come see me, but when the pandemic hit, she became scared of riding the train alone.  

The pandemic has changed so many lives. It's not just kids squabbling and getting in fights, but people looking for someone to blame. Our eyes and skin have turned us into targets. If someone were to attack my parents physically, a simple fall could change everything.
BI-CULTURAL HOME:
We try to curate a diverse library and read Saben stories from Chinese and Japanese folklore, as well as the classics we grew up with. We love to find stories that correspond to each of the holidays. Last year, we were able to take him to the Asian History museum for a Lion Dance. We hope to go again one day. 

 

MAKING IT WORK:
It's been a juggle and a struggle! My husband and I have managed by both working 1/2 time and 1/2 time watching Saben. A couple months into the pandemic, we made the decision to pair up with another family. We felt that would be the best for Saben and for us.  We’re both creative households, the kids are born just one week apart, and we all love hiking! It's been sweet seeing the bond grow between the two of them. Sometimes they bicker like siblings but they giggle, laugh, and play peek-a-boo with each other like two gaggling gulls. 

 

THE FUTURE:
I can’t wait to laugh and eat with friends and have playdates where all the kids are running around carefree. And cooking for friends and family… Having an open studio so I can talk to customers and connect with them.
 
SILVER LININGS:
Seeing Saben's first steps was definitely one of the best highlights of this time Although it's been tough, it has been such an amazing time to explore our new neighborhood’s hiking trails with him and just watching him grow. 

 

Thank you so much for inviting us to your beautiful studio and sharing your story with us, Linda!   You can check out and purchase Linda's work at www.knotworkla.com

 

Photography by Her Studio

En Famille

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