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Cecily's Techniques: Mishima

Since we seem to be doing decorative techniques involving scratching and carving here of late I thought I would go ahead and continue the thought so to speak and do this post over the technique called mishima.  

The mishima technique is almost a reverse of sgraffito.  The piece of pottery, or a bead in our case, is first built. Then a design is carved into the leather hard clay.  Very delicate lines can be used if so desired as can larger voids allowing for a great deal of contrast in simply the linear quality of the design.  The lines are then normally filled with slips whose colors contrast dramatically with the clay body of the pot or bead. 

When I did the sample pieces for this post I used the under-glazes that I had tested and shared with you all previously since I already knew what the colors would look like on my clay body and at the temperatures I fire to.  I made some more oval porcelain pendant blanks and added their hangers.  I used only plain white porcelain.  I made five pendants in all.  But two of them had glaze problems.

I carved and pressed designs into all of the pendants. On two I even imprinted a small lace butterfly to see if a fairly shallow imprint would work. I allowed them to harden past leather hard. And then I worked and pushed the various colors of under-glaze into the cracks, crannies and crevices of the designs.  After they dried stiff but still moist, I scraped the excess under-glaze off flush with the clay beneath. More under-glaze may be added at this time if a void is discovered while scraping.

Notice on the 'Wildflowers in the Grass' design (a pink and aqua one) how very fine the flower and grass stem lines are.  Also notice how crisp and hard edged the designs are.  Both of these attributes are characteristic of mishima. This would have been even truer of slip rather than under-glaze because many of the under-glazes fired to cone 9 turn into glazes and begin to flow blurring the lines just a bit. 

Also, even though I scraped the under-glazes flush with the clay body, they shrank when fired leaving an easily felt indentation wherever there was a leaf or petal. (This would not have occurred with slips.) Air bubbles also became apparent in the navy blue flowers in the brightly colored pendant.  So that under-glaze really needed to have been poked down in there. This, from what I have read, is also a problem with slip applications. Next time I won't make the indentations quite so deep either.

And the little lace butterfly also worked opening up another host of possibilities in imprinted designs.  Overall this is a very good jewelry technique because it allows the bead maker to work with very delicate, fine lined, miniaturized designs that can be very brightly colored.

As usual I will be uploading the photographs of the Kiln Opening that these pendants came out of to my facebook page as soon as possible. Also I will upload a how to series of photographs with commentary on the mishima technique to my facebook page in the near future. And the individual pendants will more than likely pop up in my etsy shop, Porcelain Jazz,  in the next few weeks as well.

Hope this helps spark some of your own explorations and design ideas.  Convo me from my Etsy shop or leave a comment on my facebook page if you would like for me to reply. Thank you for any comments left here as they act as an addition to the post itself.


  1. This is great Cecily! I recently took an e-course on mishima, loved it. Your work is wonderful!

  2. This is such a cool technique! Thanks for sharing how it is done :)


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