Friday 15 August 2014

How To Make Neriage Earrings?


In February this year I had my first exhibition in Vienna. During the month-long exhibition, I was surrounded by visitors who love ceramics but had a little or no knowledge of the different ceramic processes and methods. I often found myself explaining the aspects of my work that seemed so self-evident to me. When you work with clay for such a long time, it appears to you that everything about ceramics is self-explanatory.

Soon I realized that even though I had tagged my pieces as neriage, the visitors mostly didn’t know about this old Japanese technique.

Since I offer some of my neriage earrings in my etsy shop and I know some of my readers are not potters or clay artists, I will briefly explain the process.

My neriage earrings are made of porcelain in two colours: white and blue. To colour the blue porcelain, I soak some dried leftovers from trimming the porcelain and add the pigments. I put the coloured sludge on the plaster bat for a few hours and let it stiffen a bit. When the consistency is right I can wedge the porcelain.

Now I can assemble different layers of white and blue porcelain in a compact block. It is important that the block has no air bubbles. You should also make sure that the different coloured layers of porcelain are tightly pressed together to prevent cracking during firing.

When the neriage block is finished, I slice many thin sheets. I cut the block lengthwise, but you can also do it diagonally to get different patterns. I went for a simple white and blue stripe-pattern because I wanted to achieve some French Riviera fresh and summerly feeling.

I cut different shapes of small plates or beads and let them dry before I bisque fire them. At this point, the porcelain beads are quite rough and thick. Usually I sand them after the first firing because the porcelain is too delicate to handle as a green ware. So they get their final shape and smooth texture before I glaze them. This is a very time consuming part of the process and many of the beads get broken during the sanding.

After glazing them with a clear and transparent glaze they go to the kiln again.

So, the white and blue stripes are not painted but they are created with this demanding and time consuming Japanese technique.