Mishima or the Art of Inlaid Colored Slip Decoration

Porcelain Weed Vase with inlaid honeysuckle design

Porcelain wheel thrown weed vase with inlaid honeysuckle design – unfired

One of the cool things with keeping a blog is that it serves as a journal for me for trying new techniques and also a way for me to share the results with whomever is interested. I have been meaning to try the technique of inlaying colored slip into a piece, otherwise known as Mishima for awhile now. I just happened to have a leather hard pot available and decided to try it out yesterday afternoon.

Mishima originated in Korea during the Koryo Period (935-1392) where floral and animal motifs were incised and filled in with a contrasting colored slip on tea bowls. Contemporary ceramic artists borrow techniques from the past and make them more current – though often straying from and breaking some rules along the way. Now, isn’t that fun? I certainly like breaking the rules. For example the celadons and blues that I favor are normally fired to cone 10 in reduction (gas firing), however, I use a cone 6 glaze that resembles a traditional celadon in oxidation (electric kiln) that Mary Cay shared with me. Is it cheating? Nah, I don’t think so – I’m just making it work for me.

Celadon Blues by Robert Tichane

Celadon Blues by Robert Tichane is currently sitting on my night stand

If you’re interested, a very basic Mishima tutorial follows below:

porcelain wheel thrown vase

Step 1) I started with a leather hard vase that I had thrown and trimmed on the wheel

Step 2) Assemble your materials – in this case, porcelain slip colored with French Green mason stain, a ball point pen and the leather hard clay piece

Step 3) Draw your design directly on the clay using a ball point pen (I used a Bic, since it has a medium tip). You can also use carving tools, or whatever implement you prefer.

Step 4) Generously paint on the colored slip onto your leather hard piece. Tip: walk away from the piece and allow the slip to dry.

Step 5) Use a metal rib to gently scrape the colored slip off of the pot. If you allow the slip to dry first, it will be much easier to scrape the slip off of your pot – I say this from experience!

Meanwhile, I received a very exciting email and phone call last week. I hope to be able to share the good news with you soon!

In other news, Mary Cay and I visited Denver artist, Mark Brasuell on Friday afternoon. Mark trained as a metalsmith, but has since turned to drawing and painting where he excels! After visiting a bit, touring his studio and getting a sneak peak at some new work in progress for an upcoming show, we purchased a huge lot of jewelry findings, beads, stringing supplies and tools from Mark now that he is no longer interested in jewelry making. We haven’t gone through the lot yet – it’s a bit mind bending with how much inventory we have. This coming week, we’ll be culling the supplies that we want to keep for our own work, and then expect a sister Etsy shop to open in the near future, where we will be liquidating the remaining stock.

Have a creative week,
Cynthia Guajardo Ceramic Artist

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  • Oh, I remember you talking about this, but I had no idea the results would be so wonderful! I love, love, love it a it is now, Can hardly wait to see it finished!

  • August 12, 2007 at 7:46 pm //

    Awesome song! Hehe…

    And, I would love to try my hand at pottery someday… It is such a beautiful craft:)

  • Aw, thanks Mary!

    I think it does, Janet – I’m still trying to figure a lot of it out though. My style etc.

    Glad you liked the song, Diana – I had to ask my husband who sang, “breaking the law”. He never fails me!

  • Thank you for sharing your process, I love these posts and your beautiful work! there are many ceramic blogs out there but very few artists (if any at all) are willing to share their techniques. I find your blog refreshing and it fosters a sense of camaraderie. You inspire me to do the same.

  • This was an awesome tutorial. I wish I had the talent to throw like you. BUT, I do think I could benefit from all that surplus jewelry supply you have! :)

  • Thanks Chi! I like sharing what I learn because I have learned so much from other people in my life. Innovative techniques are few and far between, it’s what we do with them after we learn them that counts!

    Aw shucks, thanks Pinky! I’ll make sure I announce the name of our shop when we get it up and running.