Words by Yukiko:

Kaji Tsunekichi ( 1803 – 1883 )

Once upon a time, there was a young man called Tsunekichi Kaji, whose family ran a traditional metal plating business in Nagoya a little town in Aichi Prefecture. One day he found an article about shippo (enamel) in an old book and he became transfixed by the craft. However, as few examples existed in Japan, all he could do at the time was just imagine what shippo looked like from the description in the book. Hearing a story about a craftsman called Donin Hirata, who had lived in 17th century Kyoto and learnt enameling from a foreign master and presented an enamel work to the then shogun general, Tsunekichi also started wanting to create enamel pieces himself.

One day, he came across an exquisitely beautiful dish at an antiques shop when he visited Nagoya on business.  He was utterly mesmerized with the piece and he thought it must have been the enamel he had been reading of. He couldn’t afford to buy it so he would constantly return to the shop to observe the dish through the window. After a week, the shop owner was touched with Tsunekichi’s passion about enamel and offered him the piece so that Tsunekichi could study the craft and begin to create enamelware for people in Japan.

He began to study this gift in detail. Days, weeks, months turned into years however all his attempts to create enamel failed. One day seized by an urge to break the enamel dish he hit it with a hammer, breaking the enamel into many small fragments. Amongst them he saw a brown coloured material beneath the glaze and suddenly understood the secret of enamelware - enamel was not based on ceramics as he had always believed but on copper.

Following this breakthrough a few months later, and fourteen years since he first started studying his one piece of enamel, Tsunekichi successfully created a piece of enamel work.

Tsunekichi Kaji began the cloisonné enamel renaissance in Japan that led to Nagoya becoming an internationally successful cloisonné enamel-manufacturing centre in the 19th century. Today some of his works are part of V&A collection in London.

梶 常吉 ( 1803 – 1883 )


ある日、父親の使いで名古屋を訪れた時の事。常吉は、とある骨董屋の店先に飾られていた、それはそれは美しい一枚の皿を目にします。 ”あれは七宝焼に違いない” と思いますが、高価であろうその外国製の品を買う余裕のない彼は、来る日も来る日もただガラス越しにその皿を眺めに、店まで通うことしか出来ませんでした。一週間ののち、骨董屋の主人はとうとう常吉に声を掛けます。事情を知り常吉の情熱に感心した主人は、”宜しいです。それでは、この皿をあなたに差し上げましょう。どうぞ一生懸命研究をして、あなた自身で、日本の人々の為に七宝焼を作り上げて下さい。” と、常吉にその皿を託します。



梶常吉は19世紀の日本における有線七宝の基礎を作り上げ、名古屋を国際的にも有数な有線七宝の産地として築き上げました。今日、梶常吉の作品はロンドン ヴィクトリア&アルバートミュージアムのコレクションの一部となっています。


The two traditional styles of enamelling I use are Champlevé and Cloisonné. I also use a technique involving solar-plate etching but today I will demonstrate the Cloisonné technique.

There are many ready mixed colours available on the market but I prefer to make my own unique colours by mixing and grinding pigments.  To work the pigments must be ground to the texture of caster sugar. I use glue made from a cooked sea plant called Funori to help fix the enamel to the metal.




I’m planning a new collection called ENCOUNTERS, using stones, shells or whatever we encountered while travelling or walking in woods as my inspiration. I have some test pieces inspired by the shapes of the stones we found in Scotland.

The design patterns are mainly from Edo-komon traditional Japanese design - ASANOHA, TATEWAKU, SHIPPO-TSUNAGI, SEIGAIHA, RIKYU-UME PLUM, UROKO, KIKKO and ICHIMATSU with Welsh Blanket patterns. The base shapes are made by hand cutting, filing and shaping sheet metal before preparing the metal ready to accept an enamel covering.

現在ENCOUNTERS (巡り合ったモノたち) という新コレクションを計画中で、これは、旅行先で見つけた石や貝、散歩先の森で拾ってきたもの等からインスピレーションを得たシリーズで、今日は昨年スコットランドで見つけた石にインスパイアされたクロワゾネの試作品を用意しました。



When creating my pieces, I either draw the design onto the metal base or trace using carbon paper. I then glue fine silver ribbon onto the design. Bending, curving and forming the metal ribbons to the shape of the design, creating compartments (Cloisonné means compartment in French) into which I apply enamel glaze. This technique makes Cloisonné enamelling unique compared to other methods. I use traditional glue called Hakkyu, which is made from powdered dried orchid bulb.

Applying the enamel is a long slow process and involves continually adding enamel, drying, firing, cooling and pickling (cleaning in an acid solution) until the required depth and finish is achieved. It takes five firings to complete the work.

Once this is done I start to hand polish the enamel using different grades of stone and charcoal. I then wash the piece and finish with natural beeswax.






Edo-komon are traditional Japanese designs from the Edo period (1603-1867). The motifs consisting of auspicious symbols and patterns are the inspiration for many of my designs.


元々は江戸時代  (1603-1867) の武家社会で発祥した日本の伝統文様。のちに、江戸以前の意匠も含めその時代に親しまれていた文様を総称して江戸小紋と呼ばれるようになり、着物の柄を始め様々な機会に吉祥の願いやお守りの意味も込めて今日まで愛され続けています。

Asanoha [lozenge shaped] from the foliage of hemp is one of the most popular traditional motifs. As hemp is known for its strong and rapid growth, the design is used in kimonos designed for a newborn baby.


Tatewaku [waving pattern] is one type of the Yusoku designs originally for kimono worn by researchers and academics working for the court during the Heian Period (794 - 1185). Tatewaku represents the steam rising from the ground in the spring when many living creatures start to get lively and is regarded as a good luck symbol. 


Shippo-tsunagi [circular shaped], Shippo (Seven Treasures) means enamel in Japanese. It was also originally created for courtiers during the Heian Era (794 – 1185). The design uses repeating and never-ending interlocking circles, which represent eternity and is regarded as a lucky motif.


Seigaiha [fan shaped] represents the calm ocean and is a symbol of good luck that brings gifts from the sea. As the sea is a symbol of eternity, people use this motif to wish for a long-lasting happy life. The name Seigaiha is said to come from the title of the dancing music featured in the Tale of Genji, a novel written during the Heian Period.


Rikyu-ume [floral pattern], Rikyu, from Sen-mno-Rikyu (1522 - 1591), was the greatest tea ceremony master during the Edo-era. Ume means plum blossom, which has always been a much loved design. It is regarded as being a lucky symbol as the plum blossom is one of the first spring flowers to appear after the cold winter.

利休梅:千利休  ( 1522 – 1591 ) が好んだとされる名物裂のデザイン。茶道で使われる仕覆や古帛紗用意匠の代表。梅の花はまだ寒い冬場に可憐に咲き始め、春の到来を告げる縁起の良い花として昔から愛されている文様。

Ichimatsu [checker pattern] is a checkerboard pattern and is named after a popular Kabuki actor from the Edo era. Matsu is Japanese for pine and as an evergreen tree, it is regarded as being lucky.


Uroko [triangular shaped], meaning scale (fish or snake) in Japanese. As scales protect, they are often used as a motif to ward off evil, people, especially men, would use this pattern for the lining fabric of a kimono to bring good luck. As snakes shed their skin, it is also seen as a symbol of rebirth.


Kikko [hexagon shaped], meaning turtle or tortoise shell in Japanese, is an ancient auspicious design. It is said that cranes live for 1,000 years and tortoises for 10,000 years so they have been two of the most popular symbols for longevity and good luck, especially for weddings. This simple hexagon shape from the pattern in a turtle’s shell represents the beauty of the natural world.