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Published Sep 17, 2021

mishima ceramicsI was first introduced to Mishima ceramics decoration when I attended a Lorna Meaden workshop years ago. Before that I wondered how she made such beautiful fine lines on her pots. If you have ever wondered the same thing, today's post will shed some light on the mishima ceramics technique.

Today, Lorna gives an overview of mishima and explains how she soda fires her work for more depth. - Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.


Mishima ceramics comes from the Japanese Island of Mishima, but it was originally transported from Korea around the 16th century. This surface design technique is a way of drawing by inlaying a slip of contrasting color into lines incised in leather-hard clay.

To create very fine lines, I use the sharpest knife I can find - a disposable scalpel - to draw on leather-hard pots. Then I fill in the etched lines with black slip, allow it to become leather hard, and scrape it off with a metal rib - the kind that comes in the beginner's pottery tool kit.

The photo at the right shows the lines before the slip is scraped off. The metal ribs are helpful because you can bend them to the contour of the pot. After the pots are bisque fired, I then go back and divide up the space, using wax and latex glaze resist to create sections of color.

Soda Firing for Depth and Brightness

I fire in heavy reduction until cone 9 is down. I then close the damper of the kiln, and turn up the gas. This produces unused fuel in the atmosphere of the kiln, trapping carbon on the surface of the pots.

Then, I spray a soda ash solution into the kiln. I use a large amount of soda and water (5 lbs. soda ash to 3 gallons of water) and spray it in all at once. Afterwards, I let the kiln gain temperature until cone 10 is down. The finishing step is creating an oxidizing atmosphere to brighten the color of the glazes.

**First published in 2009