Tambo Technique


Image shows the Tambo process in a series of small square photos showing the making of a box lid.

One of the specific Urushi techniques i use is Tambo or Nanako-nuri, ななこ塗り in the Tsugaru-nuri 津軽塗 family.

Uniquely with the Tambo technique the pattern is created using small dried objects, such as rice or pasta, i sometimes use dinosaur shaped pasta. More traditionally rapeseeds or hemp seeds are used.

These are placed one by one and semi-submerged into a wet layer of lacquer to help sculpt the pattern. Pieces then spend 24 hours in a Urushi-buro, 漆風呂 or Furo. Urushi lacquer can only be cured layer by layer under very precise temperature and humidity conditions that are simulated and controlled within the Furo. Within, the lacquer absorbs moisture from the air, solidifying the layer. Each layer of lacquer (the pieces i make may have up to 20) spends 24-72h in the Furo. 

After this time the 'Little Things',the rice, pasta or seeds are very carefully removed, leaving behind a pattern of craters a raised texture which I build upon by adding successive layers. Each layer is typically a contrasting colour made by mixing specific natural pigments which give the final pieces their unique colour. 

Each layer is lightly sanded before the next is applied. After all the layers are applied they are slowly and precisely sanded and polished to reveal the intricate highly coloured patterns. Extremely time consuming but Urushi lacquering results in jewellery that is light, durable and effortlessly wearable.


  • Tsugaru-nuri • 津軽塗 - Lit. Tsugaru painting. A regional form of lacquerwork from Tsugaru, Aomori prefecture in Japan. 
  • Nanako-nuri • ななこ塗り - Lit. fish roe painting.