Mishima, misleadingly named for a Japanese city from which it did not originate, is a method of inlaying slip, engobe, or soft contrasting clay into carved or impressed texture. As I'm still having fun with my homemade texture roller, I decided to try some mishima decorating with my Monday-funday Handbuilding class. It worked so well I reprised the demo for the Tuesday Afternoon Delights and the Tuesday Awesomeness gang.
It was a sort of two-fold demo: I started by making an ad hoc mold
from a rubbermaid bin and an old sheet. This is great if you want to
build a larger platter or shallow bowl than you have a mold for; any
container can become a sling mold. I just lay the sheet over the top,
then tie a rope or bungee cords around the bin to hold it in place.The
device looks a bit like a bassinet, when the sheet is secured in place.
You can adjust the curve to be deeper or more shallow.
I rolled out a relatively thick slab - 1/4 inch or thereabouts. I then used the handy-dandy hot-glue texture roller that
I made a couple of days ago in my home studio to impress a texture,
before laying the slab in the mold. I trimmed the edges, and then
lightly paddled the edges to compress.
I left it alone for a couple hours, hoping it would firm up some, but
it really didn't; it was raining outside and quite cool in the studio,
and of course the bin was plastic. I decided to go ahead with the
mishima so the class could see the technique, even if it was less than
ideal; but actually it worked just fine even on wet clay.
I spread thick slip from the sides of the bucket over the surface of the
platter, then used a rubber rib to remove most of the slip, leaving
behind whatever had sunk into the texture.
After letting the piece dry for a few more hours, I added a rim, made of flattened and stretched coils.
Once it was leatherhard enough to move without distortion, I threw a
foot - basically just a cylinder with no bottom, which I altered to be a
loose rectangle - and attached it by laying the platter on top of it,
while the foot ring was still quite wet.
I ended up altering the foot much more than it appears at the top of
this post, because the foot seemed so...static - in contrast to the
loose, dynamic rim. (This is a constant issue when combining thrown and
This piece will not be dry enough for the
next bisque, but will make it into the one after that; I expect it to be
finished around the end of this month.If it comes out especially well, I'll list it in the Pottery Shop!
Lori Keenan Watts (aka me) is a potter, gardener, and avid reader from Augusta, Maine. Though I started my university education in surface design for fabric, clay quickly grabbed me by the heart and redirected my creative impulses. I have been a potter for over 25 years -- hard to believe. The most valuable years of my ceramic education were spent in graduate study at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, under the tutalage of Dan Anderson and Paul Dresang.
My aesthetic is guided by my love of the material itself. What fascinates me and makes a pot compelling for me is the clay-ness of clay: the squooshiness that becomes the adamantine solidity. I also like patterns, unexpected proportions, and when the flame comes along and dissolves part of my careful decorating efforts! I am obstinate about this aesthetic, to a point which might be called pig-headed, but hey, if you don't like what you make, why bother?
My happy little family also includes my husband, musician and photographer (and author of the book Alewife) Doug Watts; five cats; and a turtle, all foundlings and rescues of one stripe or another.