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Eggshell artist

Laconia’s Kazuko Okubo expresses creativity through unusual technique, will travel to Japan for further skills


LACONIA — Painting on a blank canvas never came naturally for Kazuko Okubo. In fact, the Laconia resident struggled with painting so much that an art teacher in Boston once told her she had no talent and should stop pursuing art. These comments didn't stop Okubo from finding ways of expressing her creativity, however, as one day she decided to paint an egg, break it, and use the eggshells to piece together a picture, and was startled at how easily the pieces started coming together. Thus, from that moment on, Okubo had found her talent in eggshell art.

The practice of eggshell art is individualistic, as each artist uses their own choice of paints, layering and technique when creating the picture. For Okubo, she paints the egg first before crushing the shell into small pieces that can then be arranged into a picture. Sometimes it can take Okubo up to six months to create the best picture possible, as she often rearranges the placement of the eggshell pieces multiple times in order to best capture the image.

"You can make as many mistakes with eggshell art as you want, because if you don't like what it looks like with pieces in certain places then you can just move them," said Okubo, who further said that with canvas painting if you make a mistake it is permanent and you cannot easily change the outcome.

With what started just a hobby at the senior center in town, eggshell artwork has now become a passion for Okubo and has changed the course of her life. In 2012, Okubo was awarded the President's Award for Art at Plymouth State University, where she has been taking classes periodically to continue her education. Through this recognition and collection of artwork she has created while at PSU, she now has the opportunity to teach eggshell art to students in Japan. Okubo will return to her home country for the first time in 28 years on Sunday, Aug. 21, and will remain in Osaka for one year. The school bringing Okubo to Japan is paying for most of her expenses; however, she is short on some of the cost. To help raise money for this exchange program in Japan, she has started a GoFundMe account at https://www.gofundme.com/kazuko.

"I am excited to be back in Japan and it will be the first time teaching people in my native language so I think that it will be easier," said Okubo.

While in Japan, Okubo will have the opportunity to not only teach classes but take classes in English and Japanese translation, as well in traditional Japanese music. She hopes that through her various educational experiences in Japan and at PSU that she can continue to be a lifelong learner, and also help the cultures of the United States and Japan connect through her work.

Once the exchange is finished, Okubo plans to return to Laconia and teach eggshell art classes at Gilford Public Library next summer. -

08-12 Kazuko Okubo

Japanese eggshell artist Kazuko Okubo leaves for Japan at the end of August to teach the practice to native Japanese students. (Alana Persson/Laconia Daily Sun)

Intern sees differences between French and American legal systems


LACONIA — A 19-year-old law student from France is getting an up close and personal look at how the American law system operates and says he's struck by the differences he sees between the United States and his home country.
Quentin Douette of Rouen in northern France is the final week of his month-long internship with the Martin, Lord and Osman law firm and said he's enjoying the opportunity to see how American law works. He's entering the second year of what will be a seven-year program to become a lawyer in France and is pursuing a double major in the law and English.
What he sees in American courts is very different from what he has sees in France.

"Lawyers are leading the debate here much more than the judge. In France, the judge is the one asking the questions," said Douette.
The difference in the legal systems is in part explained by the English-speaking world's reliance on the common law based on consensus and precedent, according to Willard "Bud" Martin, head of the law firm, and the French reliance on the civil code originally developed under the Emperor Napoleon.
"Lawyers in France are much more apt to be looking at the written law than for precedents," said Martin.
Douette has been exposed to many aspects of the law while here, attending court hearings, trials, discovery proceedings and even a real estate closing, and has worked with many of the lawyers and paralegals at the firm. He's also had the chance to speak with Judge James Carroll in Laconia Fourth District Circuit Court.
He said one thing he's noticed about American courts is that the system encourages communication between the parties involved in legal actions that promotes reaching agreements outside of the courtroom rather than going to a trial.
"Its very difficult to attend a trial in France. Many of our trials are not open to the public and often it's heard by the judge alone, rather than a jury," said Douette. He points out that in France judges attend a special school for judges and are not drawn from the ranks of lawyers, who attend different schools.
While in New Hampshire, Douette said he's had the opportunity to visit the Mt. Washington Hotel, site of the 1944 Bretton Woods conference which established the post World War II monetary system, as well as take in parts of Lake Winnipesaukee.
Last weekend he tried his hand at target practice, attending a shooting range in Belmont where he got to fire a pistol, a unique experience which he said he really enjoyed.
His internship with the local law firm was facilitated by Joseph Adrignola, administrator for the law firm, who said he was approached by a friend with whom he bicycles in France who was looking for a law internship in the United States for his grandson.
"I talked with the partners at the law firm and they gave it the green light," said Adrignola, who says that Douette speaks excellent English "and is absorbing everything like a sponge."
Martin says that the lawyers and staff at the law firm are finding that it is a two-way street with Douette and are enjoying the opportunity to deal with someone who brings a different perspective to the firm.

08-22 French law intern
Willard "Bud" Martin and Attorney Joseph Driscoll IV of the Martin, Lord and Osman law firm in front of the Busiel Mill in Laconia with Quentin Douette, a 19-year-old French law student and Joseph Adrignola, administrator for the law firm. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Owner of 'Killed In Action' bracelet identified

MOULTONBOROUGH — A Kingston man and retired Marine who is looking for the owner of a Killed In Action bracelet found on Braun Bay said Friday he has found the owner.

Craig Montoni said that it was a friend of his who found the bracelet and, because of his own service in the U.S. Marine Corps and in Iraq, he decided to help locate the owner by reaching out to local media. He said he acted as the middleman and now the owner and his friend are in touch with each other.

"I know it's not a piece of jewelry to someone," said Montoni who said he wears two bracelets of people killed in action and never takes them off. "These bracelets mean something to the people who wear them."

Montoni said he had been contacted by someone who he said sounded "ecstatic" that the bracelet had been found. 

The bracelet was dedicated to the memory of Cpl. William I. Salazar who died on Oct. 15, 2004 in Iraq. According to the fallen heroes memorial website, Salazar died of injuries he sustained in El Anbar Province. He was from Las Vegas, Nevada.