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neriage & nerikomi

neriage is the ancient japanese technique of layering, cutting and recombining different colors of clay, creating an intricately patterned loaf that is sliced and applied to the clay body. sound familiar? polymer clay artists often make reference to borrowing the millefiore technique from glass artists and neriage is the millefiore of earthen clay. though there are slight differences, the term nerikomi is considered to be interchangeable with neriage.

thomas hoadley is widely known for his nerikomi vessels and blue bus studios uses the technique on porcelain jewelry. tim garvin, the artist behind blue bus, describes the process like this:

“We create our porcelain pieces using an ancient technique known variously as millefiori, neriage, and nerikome. The extreme detail and intense color in our ceramic work results from the use of over 500 different colors of clay to create our carefully designed clay loaves. Next, cross-sections are sliced from the loaves, and these sections are shaped and finished into individual pieces.”


if you’d like to see how it’s done by ceramic artists, take a look at this tutorial – it is in japanese, but the pictures say it well enough – make sure you look at both pages.

here is a quick tutorial by american ceramist faith rahill. as you can see, the process for building a cane is similar enough and how interesting to see the end results in stoneware!

ginko studios has a fresh, hip twist on the technique

and they share some of the process here


just a wee bit more inspiration for polymer clay cane enthusiasts. enjoy.

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6 Responses to neriage & nerikomi

  1. I wrote the Wikipedia definition of nerikomi. Have a look at my site. I am writing a book about this subject historically and contemporary. I am busy making, so the book was a bit delayed. Thanks for putting my comments on your blog.
    Dorothy Feibleman

  2. A google search brought me to your blog. Ceramic Arts Daily is featuring an article on neriage. Your blog offered great info. Thanks to others who blogged with clarification.

  3. Also, it is not really appropriate to use these words for polymer material, because the words refer to fired natural clay, which has very different characteristics. The images can be similar but so is sushi making, felt making, metal work, glass work, marquetery in wood etc. but you wouldn`t call a guitar rosette nerikomi. It is a Japanese character. It is used probably by potters because many have been influenced by Japanese ceramics, I was influenced by glass and did not start calling my work nerikomi until I had to explain to Japanese what work I did. I always called it laminated coloured porcelain before I went to JP because that describes a process in English that almost relates.

  4. The words are not really interchangable. But, many people do mix them up and argue about the meaning.The word nerikomi is not an ancient japanese word. It is fairly contemporary. Both these “words” are different but related “kanji” derived from Chinese characters.


  5. Fascinating!! I’d never heard of these techniques and I am entralled now! I have a list a mile long of ‘must do’s’ today, but think I might instead go to the library and read up on Neriage and Nerikome….what fun to find a ‘sister’ technique to my canework. Thanks much Susan!

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