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What's the Difference Between Sgraffito and Mishima?

What's the Difference Between Sgraffito and Mishima?

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? Today, we’re looking at two of the most popular decorating techniques, Sgraffito and Mishima. Both techniques can result in intricate, beautiful designs, but they are achieved through very different processes.


What is Sgraffito?

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

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

Potter @juliettedavin uses the sgraffito technique to scratch away a black outer layer to reveal a white under layer in the most 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 on the other hand, is essentially the opposite of sgraffito, as 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 technique, you’ll scratch a design into a leather-hard piece of pottery, then fill the lines in with color and remove excess materials 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 DiamondCore Tools to create stunning lines with an elegant, very small U shaped groove.

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

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!

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