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Students get the picture
" Sakai Intermediate School honored its namesakes this week with the dedication of an etched glass photograph of Yoshiko and Sonoji Sakai. I am honored - the picture puts a face to the name, said Dean Sakai, the grandson of the Sakai couple.The portrait, which is displayed in the main entrance of the school, is one of several art projects the Art for Sakai Committee hoped would crystallize. Tammy Melby, a committee member, said that several years ago when the committee envisioned different art pieces for Sakai, the now-deceased Don Nakata came up with the idea of displaying a glass photograph of the family in the school. Don said that there needs to be something more representative of the Sakai family, Melby said.Last February, committee members and Sakai school officialsd approached Al Philips, Bainbridge glass artist and owner of Dolphin Glass, with the idea and vintage photograph. We knew that Al was a glass artist, said Sakai Principal Jo VanderStoep.But then he told us about his son Ben who had some work in the Bainbridge Library, and we thought, 'Let's have a real Bainbridge Island student do this art work.' After studying the aged three-by-five picture Philips realized how difficult it would be to enlarge the picture so it would fit on a 6-foot-by-6-foot piece of glass. First, they scanned the original into a computer and sent the image to a lab in California where they enlarged it as much as possible.We had to break (the photo) into two, said Philips, because it was too big. Then a rubber mat was made that protected parts of the glass from being chipped away. With a sand airbrush, Philips carefully etched the picture into the glass. After almost a year and three sheets of glass, the image was complete. It looks very much like a painting, Dean Sakai said at the unveiling.VanderStoep said that Philips charged the school only a quarter of what he would normally charge a business or private institution. We wanted to make a gift for the Sakais and the students, Philips said, and with a community like ours, it is easy to give back.My parents wouldn't believe it, said Kay Sakai Nakao, daughter of Yoshiko and Sonoji. What a great honor. "