In glasswork, silica sand is melted in a high temperature furnace and manipulated into various forms. Designs may be carved into the finished glass.
Blown glass (fukigarasu) is made by applying a gob of molten glass to the end of a stainless-steel tube called a blowpipe. Air is then blown into the tube, inflating the gob like a balloon and making it possible to manipulate the glass into various forms. The finished glass is placed in an annealing furnace and slowly cooled.
Kiriko cut glass is made by using rotating grinders or diamond wheels to cut geometric patterns and curves into the surface of finished glass vessels. The patterns are evened and finished with fine polishing stones. Edo kiriko and Satsuma kiriko are especially famous.
Designs are engraved into the surface of a glass vessel using small, copper engraving wheels. The copper engraving wheels are spun on a lathe and coated with grease and an abrasive grit or slurry. Using this technique, glass can be freely embellished with plants and animals or other motifs.
Pâte de verre
Pâte de verre (French, “glass paste”) is made by first taking a plaster mold of a clay model. Next, glass powder is mixed with a special binding agent to create a paste. The resulting paste is put into the plaster mold and fired.
Designs are painted onto the surface of a glass vessel in enamel. Then the piece is fired in an electric furnace at a low temperature of around 600℃. Fired enamel displays a beautiful, glossy sheen.
Cloisonné enamel work
For cloisonné enamel (shippō, literally “seven treasures”) vitreous enamel glaze is applied to a design delineated by metal partitions (called cloisons in French) and fired in a kiln.
Wire cloisonné enamel (yūsen shippō) uses strips of silver wire to create partitions between areas of differently colored enamel. This is the basic method for producing cloisonné enamel ware.
“Lost-base” plique-à-jour (shōtai shippō) is prepared following the same steps as wired cloisonné, but at the end of the process the copper vessel is dissolved in acid, leaving behind only the enameled surface. The Japanese term shōtai means “omitted base.”
“Muddy” cloisonné (doro shippō) is characterized by the use of lusterless, opaque enamels that produce a unique texture distinct from the glossy appearance of modern vitreous enamel. Brass wire, which goes well with the glaze, is used to divide the compartments on the piece and better emphasize the colors and shapes.
Kirikane cut foil embellishing
In kirikane, metal foil (generally gold) is cut into delicate strips or quadrilateral shapes and adhered to a surface to create a decorative pattern.
Kirikane cut foil embellishing was originally used to lavishly decorate Buddhist images. Today the technique is employed on decorative boxes and other craft objects. First, layers of gold leaf made by beating gold into thin, paper-like sheets are heated and combined over a charcoal fire. The resulting foil is cut into shapes such as lines, squares, and triangles using a bamboo knife. A brush is used to apply the cut foil in the desired pattern, and the piece is complete.
Carved hardstone (gyoku) is a category of art objects sculpted from semi-precious stones such as agate and mineral crystal.
Jade, agate, mineral crystal, and other semi-precious stones are known as gyoku (“jewel” or “gem”). In hardstone carving, these stones are cut and sculpted to produce a wide variety of objects including tea bowls and incense containers.
Inkstones (suzuri) are carved from stone using a chisel. The carved inkstone is then polished and coated with a finish of wax or lacquer.
Inkstones are used in brush calligraphy to grind the ink for writing characters. Inkstones are highly valued writing tools, and the process of ink grinding is regarded as a calming practice preceding calligraphic activities. First, the rough shape of the inkstone is cut out of the base rock. Next, a long-handled chisel is used to cut a flat surface where the ink will be ground and a well where the ink will gather. The final form is coated with a finish of wax or lacquer. Popular varieties of stone include Amehata slate (amehataishi) from Yamanashi prefecture, akamaishi schalstein from Yamaguchi prefecture, and hōmeiseki shale and slate from Aichi prefecture.
Drawing patterns using gold leaf made into fine powder.
Sunago is a traditional technique to draw patterns with gold and silver leaf made into fine, sand-like powder using a bamboo cylinder with a mesh net set in the bottom.
The gold / silver powder is dusted on to a sheet of paper where animal glue is applied, and is pressed down lightly with Japanese paper.
Sunago has been used to decorate picture scrolls and writings such as handwritten copies of sutras since the end of the Heian period (794 - 1185), and in the Edo period (1603 - 1868), it was also used to decorate folding screens and fusuma (sliding paper doors) paintings. Today, sunago techniques are used for decorating fusuma and other crafts such as furosaki byobu, a folding screen used for a summer-style tea ceremony.
Reference: Nihon Kōgeikai Higashi Nihon Shibu (Japan Kōgei Association Eastern Branch), ed., Dentō kōgei-tte nani? – miru, shiru, tanoshimu gaido bukku (What Are Traditional Crafts? –A Guidebook to Seeing, Learning, and Enjoying). Unsodo, 2013.
Edo kiriko cut glassOpen in new window
This craft is known for its intricate designs cut into blue or red colored glass. The most common design is called fish eggs because it is composed of multiple fine straight lines that resemble round fish eggs. Other quintessential designs are chrysanthemums or hemp leaves.
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