technique- Maki-e

One of the specific Urushi techniques I use is Maki-e • 蒔絵.

Maki-e is a distinctive Urushi Japanese lacquerware technique that is said to have developed around 1200 years ago. It involves using a fine brush to paint a picture with Nashiji-urushi • 梨子地漆 lacquer on the surface of pieces, and then sprinkling gold powder on the surface before it dries and cures, creating a design. The word maki means to sprinkle and e means picture. 

Typically layers of Kuro-urushi • 黒漆 a black lacquer are built up over time to create a solid base for the sprinkled picture. The Maki-e process is repeated several times, each time, Nashiji is applied and gold or silver powders sprinkled carefully. The delicate patterns are then cured layer by layer under very precise temperature and humidity conditions in a specially made wooden box, an Urushi-Furo  風呂. Like in Haku-e the newest layer of the sprinkled picture is sealed with a fresh layer of Nashiji and left to cure again. This process is repeated many times over successive weeks as each layer needs 24 hours to cure at least. The result is breath-taking and as such has become one of the most well known Urushi techniques outside of Japan. The technique as I use it reminds me of a star and wonder filled night sky. 


  • Nashiji-urushi • 梨子地漆 - Lacquer used for nashi-ji. It typically becomes paler over time.
  • Kuro-urushi • 黒漆 - Lit. black lacquer.