Some Japanese enamels

Cloisonne enameling was not a traditional art in Japan and its birth is owed to just one fellow, Kaji Tsunekichi who, apparently bored out of his wits in the small provincial town of Toshima, in Owari, began to make reproductions of Chinese cloisonnes sometime around 1830. After 15 years he was joined by another, then another, then another; then the practice moved to bigger cities: Yokohama, Kyoto, Nagoya and cloisonne production became big business: both for export and domestic production. As the business grew, Japanese experimented with the technique ceaselessly, introducing new breakthroughs. Among the techniques they invented was musen ("no-fret") technique (in which wire is glued to the object, enamel applied to the spaces in between and the object then fired, but the wire is then removed while the enamels are still not fully dry). This creates clear color boundaries without the fret outlines. In a variation of the technique, enamels can be applied without fret at all, in which case the neighboring colors blend along a gradient, which creates the impression of wet on wet ink wash. Another technique is nagare-gusuri ("running colors"), in variation of which a dab of one enamel is applied in the center of another prior to firing. Here are a couple examples of effects which were made possible by these techniques.


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