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Fresh Shop: Bluemics

Jun 27, 2013

by Kimiko Kotouge handmade and vintage goods

Every day, our community grows in unexpected and delightful ways. For our Fresh Shops series, sellers who have been on Etsy for a handful of months or are waiting for those first few sales introduce themselves. Here’s a warm welcome to all our newbies!

My name is Kimiko Kotouge and my shop is Bluemics. I was born and raised in Okayama, Japan, where I now own a kiln and work.


In my early twenties, I went by chance to a pottery lesson with my older sister. Touching clay for the first time, I discovered a fun new world. At that time, my mother was running a soba (buckwheat noodle) restaurant, and I became interested in the relation between food and the dish it is served upon. I realized how much just one little dish can enrich a person’s life, and I found that I wanted to create these works of art.


I went to Shigaraki, a major center for Japanese pottery, to learn tsukuri, or construction. Through my studies, I became eager to learn about etsuke, a painting technique, so I went to a specialized school in Seto and got a job at a kiln there. While working as a painter and designer at the kiln, I continued to study on my own.


At the specialized school in Seto, I learned a technique called sometsuke dyeing. I liked the fresh blue and white of classic sometsuke works and wanted to create my own pieces, adding my own touch to the tradition. After making various trial pieces, I found my present style.


Dyed works are usually made of kaolin but I use argil to add warmth. Round pieces are mainly shaped on the wheel. For the others, I use plaster molds. After molding, the pieces are biscuit-fired. Then they are covered in white sand and fired again in the kiln. Next I paint each piece, drawing brushstroke  by brushstroke with underglaze color called zaffer (cobalt). Finally, the pieces are glost-fired in a gas-fired kiln for twelve hours.


My recent pieces reflect my interest in tiny dishes called mame-zara, which just big enough to fit in one’s palm. “Mame-zara” or “bean dishes” have long been made in Japan and come in various shapes and patterns such as flowers, animals and landscapes. They are works with a sense of fun. I am fascinated by this small and condensed cosmos and hope to keep these traditions alive through my work.

All photos courtesy of Bluemics.

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