Nerikomi pottery

Nerikomi mini vase & palette plate dinnerware

What is “Nerikomi” in pottery?

It is a special method used to create a pottery from a mixed clay base to produce a special coloring and pattern effect. I use this nerikomi to produce a wood grain pattern or an agate stone or those beautiful hill stream rocks' pattern.   

Nerikomi begins with mixing multiple clays with different properties. Different colors, different effects like speckles, etc. Because different type of clays each have different shrinkage when fired, you need to be mindful in the selection of the clays and pick those with similar shrinkage. After selection, mixing the clay must be done at a level enough to ensure consistency, yet, not too much as it becomes uniform. This will preserve each character of the different type of clays in the mix. I use recycled clay, that is, left over clay for this purpose. So, it takes a few years until I have enough from a variety of clays to create the nerikomi clay base.  This dinnerware plate below really shows off the natural pattern a nerikomi pottery creates.

Photo of paint palette dinnerware made from nerikomi pottery method

In order to preserve and allow the mixed character to show, you need to be careful also in the build process. You don’t want to work the surface too much as to not smother and blur the natural bordering effect that appears. Too much water will cause blurring of the border, the color contrast, while too little will not ensure bonding of materials. You want to be bold, precise and concise!

You really don’t know what design pattern will emerge until the glaze firing is complete. Done right, you will be rewarded with a pleasant surprise pattern that you haven’t quite expected. Handmade pottery always produces a unique, one and only piece but nerikomi method accentuate that to the next level.

You want to be mindful of each step as mentioned, but at the same time it’s not all that fussy as it may sound and really a quite enjoyable process from start to finish.

Photo of mini vase using nerikomi pottery method