22 Jul 2020

Lost in the wonderland of Nerikomi - Meet the ceramist Yuko KURAMATSU.


Lost in the wonderland of Nerikomi - Meet the ceramist Yuko KURAMATSU. https://www.galerietokyo.com/post/lost-in-the-wond...

Updated: Dec 2, 2019

Like what happened most of the time today, I've first "e-met" Yuko on Instagram.

The second I saw her ceramic works, I knew that I needed to get in touch with her : the patterns, the glaze and the form created by her are just fascinating.



Her excellence in Nerikomi technical impresses us as much as her poetic way of expressing herself.



Here below is her Nerikomi Story and an interview where she revealed her inspirations and love for her work.



Nerikomi (often referred to as “neriage”) is a decorative process that involves stacking colored clays and then slicing through the cross section to reveal a pattern, which can then be used as an applied decoration. Nerikomi designs provide a wonderful way to work three dimensionally with patterns and images. The results reflect a combination of both careful planning and accidental surprise. In a Nerikomi piece, it is possible to see several colors, or only one but with different shades. It can represent abstract images like clouds or waves, geometric patterns, but also a perfect drawing like a daisy flower or a sakura. All patterns, however, are not "painted" and are deeply rooted in the clays and in their pigments, so it will never go with time and water.









However, this is also one of those technicals which requires a lot of attention to detail: since it uses different layers of clays, there is also a higher risk of cracks during the firing. All these explain why Yuko takes enormous time in creating only one unique piece.


Yuko herself is originally from Japan but now living and working in France.

We’ve found out later that she has actually followed her Nerikomi master class with the master Eiji MUROFUSHI, who is also presented by our gallery before passing away this year. Both of us are very touched by the story, showing how the passion and love for clays will be continued and transferred from hands to hands.





Compared to her Nerikomi Master, Yuko’s universe is more gentle, with an extreme precision and attention to detail. Her pieces are not glazed to keep the clay in its purest and most natural state and at the same time, they are translucent through light!



If you want to create a magical moment and get lost in the wonderland of Nerikomi, you should definitely own one of her stunning works.


Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? why ceramics?

A: I like to use my hands to create things since I was little, I feel deeply happy and forget the time when I'm in a creative activity. Regarding my training (studies), I was a school teacher in Japan, also having a degree in Japanese as a foreign language. One day, I arrived in France, started to learn French, then I became a Japanese teacher, translator-interpreter and so on. My passion for handicrafts was always used for my professional life, like showing and doing origami together with my students.


The pottery always fascinated me but the meeting with Dany Souriau, French ceramist near Poitiers, changed my life !! I was fascinated by turning the wheel, and I learned a lot from Dany. My desire to progress, my passion for pottery was so strong that even outside his studio also I kept documenting and testing different things. Thus, I discovered this technique "Nerikomi" and very quickly, I immersed myself completely, using information collected on the internet in particular. And I ended up doing internships at Eiji Murofushi, Nerikomi specialist in Japan.


Ceramics are incredibly diverse and complex in terms of expertise, there is plenty to master just to make a bowl. It's fascinating and exciting! And once cooked, a room could be almost eternal ... it's fantastic!


Q: What is the most difficult step in making a Nerikomi piece? and what passionates you the most in this technical?

A: The hardest thing is the step of drying. It does not really depend on me, that's why it's difficult !! There are a lot of breaks for this step despite a lot of precautions. Conditions change every day, depending on the weather and many other things.


What fascinates me in this technique is modeling patterns. What you see on my pieces like drawing is the result of assembling small pieces of previously colored porcelain. Creating drawings with modeling is very exciting. Very often, it's very mathematical and meticulously calculated, and other times very spontaneous, the tinted porcelains are transformed in my hands. And when I slice my gathered canes, the final pattern appears. It's a moment of magical discovery!


Q: Where do your inspirations coming from?

A: I make traditional Japanese motifs: asanoha, tortoise shell, ume blossoms, seven treasures etc. They are rather simple and graphically repetitive. You must already know many without necessarily knowing. So what's interesting to me is that we can communicate the deep meanings and wishes of the elders hidden behind these motives, thanks to my work.

Otherwise, I want to bring a little bit joy and smile to people around me, to our lives! Something sweet and soft, but which can also give us a "wow!" effect. That's how I choose my colors and patterns.


Q: Can you talk about your different collections? Under which circonstances you have created them?

A: Oh ! There are some that have been passed on to me by Mr. Murofushi as the ume blossoms. I love this motif, because it is so lively resumed in its form; five small and round petals, with a gradient color: the edges has a darker color but then it becomes lighter in the center of the flower, and do not miss the pistils! And above all I find it is very pretty whatever the color used. And I also love the history behind: before the cherry blossoms, it is the ume blossom that was "the Japanese flower" in history. You can see this flower everywhere, on a kimono and on a fan etc., it is very often matched with a pine and bamboo made objects. This trio is the symbol of the good fortune and luck even today. There are many species of ume, but they are flowers that give pistils even when it is cold. These little bits of pink, red or white announced the arrival of spring for the Japanese.

I have a special feeling with this motif also because of another reason. Indeed, my mentor of the Nerikomi technical, Mr. Murofushi left this world this spring before turning 60, the ume was the motif he showed me when we saw each other for the last time. Presenting this motif far from Japan with the Japanese history allows me to continue his desire to make the technical of Nerikomi continue from generation to generation.

Otherwise, another completely different example is my "Tortoiseshell" collection. It's pretty simple compared to the other motifs, so I've asked myself several questions the first time I tried it. Is it worth it? Not too simple? Can I really purpose it next to other more complexed motifs? ... But I had three colors in front of me, so why not give a try? "Hop! ... Here? ... Oh, hold on, well ... It's not bad" finally the simplicity is not necessarily bad !! The color combination is so interesting with this pattern, it became finally one of the my signature collections.


Q: If you can choose 3 words to describe yourself, which words you will use?

A: Gentle, joyful and little jewels (with smile).