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Techniques of Maki-e


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The Techniques of Maki-e


An artist must prepare an object before any maki-e can be done. This starts with Shitaji-nuri or base painting at least twice or more to provide the object with a good foundation for maki-e. This is followed by Naka-nuri or interim urushi painting, then Uwa-nuri, or final coatings. From here, if an artist desires to have a more natural look to urushi, or Hana-nuri finish, they will use urushi with a bit of oil to achieve this result. If the artist wants to bring out the luster to best effect, then only oil free urushi is used for repeated special burnishing. This is called the Roiro-migaki.


Here is an example of Hana-nuri. It is fairly polished, but if you compare to Roiro-migaki, it is not as polished.




Here is an example of Roiro-migaki or special burnishing:




Before any Maki-e work can be done, the artist must transcribe the designs on to the pen. This step is called Okime.


Once the design is transcribed to the pen, the artist now has four basic techniques he can use to execute his/her designs:

  • Hira maki-e
  • Togidashi Maki-e
  • Taka Maki-e
  • Shishiai Maki-e
These four categories can be divided further by using different materials and techniques and individual skills and tastes.



Hira Maki-e


After transcription of designs, or Okime, the artist starts with drawing lines of designs, and then painting the surface with urushi between the lines, called Ji-nuri. The work is then placed in a Furo, or temperature and humidity control cabinet until the urushi is half dried. The gold or silver powder is then sprinkled onto the surface. This is called Fun-maki. After the Fun-maki, better quality urushi is then painted over the surface, called Fun-katame. The pen or object will be burnished with powder for grinding and vegetable oil first by hand and then followed by grinding powders without water to make the surface lustrous. Based on sizes of gold powder used, Hira Maki-e is further subdivided into:

  1. Hira-Fun Maki-e Hira-fun, or Hirako is very fine powder and can only be sprinkled onto pens with cotton as it is too small to be sprinkled with a tube. Polishing on this type of Hira Maki-e is usually done by gentle rubbing with 3 fingers.
  2. Han Maru-fun Hira Maki-e These are slightly larger powders than Hira-fun. Here a soft hair brush is used to sprinkle this type of powder.
  3. Maru-fun Hira Maki-e Most standard Hira Maki-e are done using gold powders ranging from size #1 (smallest) to #20 or larger. Pens made with Maru-fun can withstand heavier repeat burnishings.
  4. Uwa Togidashi Hira Maki-e This is Hira maki-e with parts done with Togidahsi Maki-e or charcoal burnishing. Different kinds of charcoals are used for polishing on different occasions.

Here is an example of Hira Maki-e: The base was finished with black urushi Roiro-migaki. Design was drawn and sprinkled with gold powder, and then Uwa-e on the leaves and Sakura with Raden. The white petal is set with quail egg shells.





Togidashi Maki-e


Togidashi Maki-e can only be done on a perfectly clean and smooth surface. The surface has to be rubbed with urushi leaving no pores before Togidashi Maki-e work can be started. The four different types of Togidashi Maki-e are as follows:

  1. Hira Togidashi Maki-e The designs by powder sprinkling or painting need to use heavier powders big enough to be Fun-katame (coating and polished to protect the surface). After the surface dried, which needs 2-3 days, good quality suruga or Hooh charcoal is used for rough polishing and then, rubbed with urushi onto the surface. Next step is to burnish the surface after it has dried, and rub with urushi again onto the surface, and then polish it with Tsubaki charcoal, preparing for the final polishing work. The final polishing work starts with Doh-suri (using fingers or cotton wool to polish with polishing powders mixed with seed oil), moving the fingers or cotton wool clockwise on the surface to erase any hair thin scratch lines made by charcoals, and to bring out its luster. The powders are cleaned from the surface by finger with a bit of very fine polishing powder.
  2. Nashiji Togidashi Maki-e This is Togidashi method with Nashiji-nuri. After gold powders were sprinkled and transparent urushi was painted onto it, burnishing is needed to shine the surface, while all the other parts were drawn with urushi. This is considered a Nashiji-nuri process while Togidashi Maki-e is also performed.
  3. Ukiage Togidashi Maki-e Ukiage means floating or a raised work on the surface. The difference in this method from the previous ones are using #9 size of powders sprinkling over the part a bit heavily painted with urushi, followed by sprinkling smaller powders a few times and burnishing. Then Roiro-urushi mixed with 10% Nahshiji-urushi is used to coat the surface, followed again with more polishing to leave the raised part looking "floating".
  4. Nerigaki Togidashi Maki-e Nerigaki means painting with urushi which is kneaded together with gold or silver powders. The powders and the urushi are needed to knead proportionately so that the artist can draw thinly or heavily at his will. After the design is done, urushi is painted over and burnished to finish up the work.


    Gold mixed with silver called Aokin were sprinkled on the wisteria and the whole pen is finished by burnishing.





Taka Maki-e


Taka Maki-e is a general term for all Maki-e which has raised designs to look more dimensional. Taka-age Urushi is used for raising the design, and then baked. This baked urushi will not dry under normal temperature. Add a little glue to this baked urushi and again knead with lamp soot to make special urushi, which is hard to dry and hard to let the surface shrink. So, this urushi is used for raising designs in many different ways. After the designs are raised, the process on the raised part will be the same as Hira Maki-e. Different materials can be used to raise the design as follows:

  1. Sumiko-age Taka Maki-e: Uses charcoal powder to raise designs.
  2. Urushi-age Taka Maki-e: Uses urushi to raise designs.
  3. Kuro maki-e: Roiro-urushi in black is done on a black surface, finished with Roiro-shiage.
  4. Suzu Taka Maki-e: Tin which is baked to raise the designs.
  5. Sabi Taka Maki-e: Crude urushi mixed with grinding powders and water.
All of these five different materials for raising the designs are in fact, invisible from our eyes, as they are all covered over with surface urushi.


This is done with urushi-age Taka Maki-e technique to raise the design:





Shishiai Togidashi Maki-e


While Hira Maki-e is easier and simpler, but somewhat monotonous, Togidashi maki-e is colorful but flat. Taka Maki-e has raised designs and colorful, but still leaves you wanting something more. To solve this problem is to combine different methods into one single piece. For example, mountains in the distance need Taka Maki-e, while the sky needs Togidashi maki-e. Trees in the foreground may need Taka Maki-e and the sea or a creek may need Togidashi Maki-e. The difficulty here lies in burnishing flat and raised parts of the designs at the same time. This is where an artist show case his/her mastery.


This demon is done with Shishiai Togidashi Maki-e with other techniques used to show case mastery of the artist.


http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v392/winedoc/Maki-e/Koichiro%20Okazaki/tn_DSC07238.jpg Edited by Phthalo

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