What's the Difference Between Sgraffito and Mishima?


Sgraffito ceramics is a technique where layers of contrasting slip or glaze are used and then scratched through to reveal the lower layers of color. Mishima ceramics is when the color is filled into the grooves rather than revealed by scratching away the top layer of the slip or underglaze.

Let's explore these popular ceramics decorating techniques more in-depth! Both techniques can result in intricate, beautiful designs, but they are achieved through different processes. Finding the right technique to enhance your clay projects is no small feat! It can take years to refine and perfect your look and style, but trying new things is always fun, isn’t it? 

What is Sgraffito?

Sgraffito ceramics is the first decorative technique we'll be looking at today! The term is derived from an Italian term meaning "scratched." Sgraffito designs are made by layering contrasting slip or glaze and then scratching through the surface to reveal the lower layer or layers of color.

This process starts by applying a layer of color to an unfired, leather-hard piece of your pottery and then carving your design by scratching through the top layer to reveal the layer below.

Potter @juliettedavin uses the sgraffito ceramics technique to scratch away a black outer layer to reveal a white under layer in this beautiful pattern! Our P12 straight blade carver lets her get such precise lines, and the egg shaped foam grip helps prevent fatigue, even on these detailed pieces.

Isn’t the final product just perfection?

What is Mishima?

Mishima ceramics on the other hand, is essentially the opposite of sgraffito. With this ceramic technique, you inlay the slip or underglaze — or fill in the color — rather than scratch the top layer away to reveal it. Mishima is a city in Japan, but the Mishima technique can actually be traced back to Korea.

When applying the Mishima ceramics technique, you’ll scratch a design into a leather-hard piece of pottery, then fill the lines in with color and remove excess material and colors after they’ve dried a bit for more intricate lines and patterns. You can add additional colors to the piece to finish the design before firing.

Check out this great demo from @michellewilliamsceramics using our P13 U Tip Carving Tool to create stunning lines with an elegant, small U-shaped groove.

And here’s the final result with vibrant colors inlaid into the crisp lines!


Check out more of our pottery carving tools and put these popular ceramic decorating techniques to work! DiamondCore Tools has a great selection of carving tools to aid in the creation of your intricate and unique designs. 

You'll also want to check out Our Favorite Sgraffito Tools and Techniques if you're looking to put the sgraffito technique to the test. Let your creativity carry you away!  

What’s your preferred pottery carving technique? Which designs or pieces are you most proud of? Which DiamondCore Tools are your favorites? We want to see them and hear all about your process! Tag us on Facebook (@DiamondCoreTools) or Instagram (@diamondcoretools) so we can see what you’re working on!


  • DiamondCore Tools

    Sônia – These are a few of our favorite techniques that we wanted to highlight.

  • Sônia

    Qual a relação dessas técnicas com carving?

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