Neriage and Nerikomi are two ceramic techniques that have been used for many years by various ceramicists. Although the terms Neriage and Nerikomi are used interchangeably they are very different. Neriage is done on a potter’s wheel and means that the clay is being mixed and pulled up as it is thrown where as Nerikomi is done by hand and by pressing clay into a mold. Both methods are done with colored clays which are usually earth tones such as grey, reds, blues, and beige. Neriage and Nerikomi both originated from Japan and other areas of Asia where they have been practiced for a period of time.
Neriage means to pull up and mix. This is what creates the pattern of colors within the clay. Two different color clays are mixed together to try and imitate the look of agate; that is why is it also called agateware. Agate is a variety of quartz that comes in a variety of colors. Neriage was brought into America and Europe in the twentieth century by the Mingei. The founder of the Mingei was Yanagi Soetsu. Mingei means art of the people and was an art movement in Japan. The goal was to create basic art made by ordinary people that still had an artistic flair.
Nerikomi means to mix and press into. Nerikomi is done by hand rather than on a wheel. The same concept of mixing is used in Nerikomi as in Neriage. It is made by mixing metal oxides and stains into the clay to give it it’s color. The clay is then shaped into logs and then molded into forms. Each form is molded to a uniform thickness and an identical pattern is created on each side of the form. Nerikomi began in the Tang Dynasty in the seventh century and has been practiced by the Europeans and Egyptians. This technique is very complex but is very down to earth in the making process. It is made by hand and is very traditional. Nerikomi is a very difficult process but the end result is beautiful.
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Various artists throughout time have used these techniques. Matsui Kosei has used both techniques. Matsui Kosei is considered a master of Neriage. He researched the ceramics of Japan, China, and Korea to become a scholar of his trade. He was born in 1927 which was the start of the folk art movement in Japan. Being born in this time probably influenced him greatly because its main goal was to support the belief that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. He has made many pieces such as bowls, vases, vessels, and various other things.
Rich Alexander is another artist that has been introduced to Neriage. He is from Clinton, Washington and aspires to create rustic pieces with a modern feel. His work is simple pots and vases. He chooses to use browns and beiges because of his closeness to nature. His signature designs and glazes include wood ashes to give the piece a more natural texture and color.
Another artist is Thivo. Her work consists of Nerikomi and other ceramics. She was originally born in Vietnam but moved to France for professional arts training. After this she moved to New York City. Her main designs are flowers and abstract colors. Her bowls and vessels are odd designs and contain an almost mesh like pattern on the edges. Her pieces are also very symbolistic of nature. Neriage and Nerikomi are both ceramic methods that originate from Japan and other areas of Asia. Although the techniques are often confused they are very different and started over a hundred years apart. Neriage is a much younger art form compared to the ancient Nerikomi. Both techniques are very complex and take much study to perfect. Many artists such as; Matsui Kosei, Rich Alexander, and Thivo have reached a greatness within these art forms and many will continue to practice these timeless methods.
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