Kinrande is a decorative technique to create with gold decorations on the surface of multicolored over glazed porcelain wares and works produced with the technique. It started in Song Dynasty, China and populated from Ming Dynasty to Qing Dynasty.
Modeled after Jingdezhen works of Ming Dynasty, kinrande works started to produce during the Genroku era in the Edo period in Japan. This technique was called so in Japan because it is similar to fabric called ‘kinran’ which is woven with gold threads or pieces of cut gold leaf. The art encyclopedia Banpou Zensho edited in 1694 already described a word ‘sometsuke kinrande’, under glaze cobalt blue porcelain with gold decorations.
Among kinrande, works with gold decorations applied on very delicate red enamel paintings ‘akae’ are called ‘akae-kinrande’. A master of Kutani-yaki Kutani Shoza succeeded in adapting western paints into traditional glazes at the beginning of Meiji period. A combined style of over glazed paintings with western paints and gold decorations were called ‘Saishoku Kinrande ’or multicolored gold painting, and this has become one of the main techniques of Kutani ware since the Meiji period.
Kinrande has some variations such as ‘kin-kaki’ to draw a line with gold paint, ‘kin-furi’ to splash gold powder, and ‘kin-hari ’ to paste gold leaf.
Gold powder used in gold decorations have been homemade in Kutani with a method called ‘kinkeshi ’. First small pieces of gold leaf collected in the production process of other products are mixed with liquid glue and ground. If glue gets hard, a little amount of hot water is added and it is ground finer and smoother. Usually gold leaf is ground with a palm of the hand. but Kinzangama Kiln uses a grading devise invented originally because they consume a large amount of gold powder.
Gold leaf ground finely enough, hot water is poured and left for a while so that fine particles of gold powder would be sort out. They are dried out and become gold powder for kinsai decoration finally (see p.32-35). Fine particles of gold powder are sold, but the handmade gold powder is finer and restores the gold color better, so kinkeshi is a necessary process at Kinzangama Kiln.
Completed gold powder is used with glue in over glazed painting. After decorated with gold, they are fired in a special kiln used for over glazed painting. To apply some gold decorations repeatedly, like splashing gold powder on drawn lines or drawing lines on pasted gold leaf, it is necessary to be fired after each process generally. With minute attention, gorgeous and splendid Kinrande works are produced through many production processes.
hiromori is one of the over glaze paintings techniques, applying white paints in a convex way. It means also white paint itself. Pure white arabesque patterns are emerging on a pale grey surface of porcelain and presenting a delicate comparison.
Yuri-kinsai is a technique to express patterns with gold decoration such as gold leaf and gold powder on surfaces, apply glazes over and then fire them.
Since Edo period in the places like Arita and Kutani where technique of over glazed painting is famous, a gold decoration technique has been developed uniquely. Gold decoration, however, had one weak point. That is, sometimes gold on a surface got worn away or peeled off because of aging.
In order to improve this situation, an idea had come out to apply glazes over gold decoration, that is, to make a coating over surfaces with glassy of glazes. Ishikawa prefectural Crafts Education Center played a main role in attempting various trials, but the problem had not been easily solved. Sometimes a specific color glaze had disappeared in the process of firing after applying glazes.
It was Takeda Aritsune (1898-1976) who had overcome this situation. Around in 1950’s, Takeda invented a technique to seal gold in glazes with thick gold leaf.
In 1966, Takeda exhibited a work ‘Bowl with yellowish green glaze, design of gold inlay’ to the 12th Japan Traditional Crafts Exhibition. A ‘chinkin’ is a technique used in urushi works, incised and gold-filled decoration. Takeda tried to adopt this technique to ceramics. Following an advice from Living National Treasure Kato Hajime who was board member of evaluators of Japan Traditional Crafts Exhibition that the name ‘chinkin’ was not appropriate in ceramics, this technique was named ‘Yuri-kinsai’. Kato was also fascinated with this new technique and produced many works in which this technique was used.
Impressed with works by these pioneers, Ono Hakuko (1915-1996) from Ureshino, Kyushu, Matsumoto Sakichi the second (1905-1988) from Kutani, and Yoshita Minori from Kinzangama Kiln attempted Yuri-kinsai. Until then Yuri-kinsai technique had been used only in ground patterns or geometric patterns. Yoshita established a three-dimensional expression by shading with both thick and thin gold leaf. He developed his own world, using concrete patterns like flowers and butterflies.
The role of Yuri-kinsai is not only to prevent gold from peeling off. Through the glassy coating of glazes, a strong metallic shine would be suppressed and gold comes to give us elegant, subtle and profound brilliance.
First small pieces of gold leaf collected in the production process of other products are mixed with liquid glue and ground. If glue gets hard, a little amount of hot water is added and it is ground finer and smoother. Usually gold leaf is ground with a palm of the hand. Kinzangama Kiln uses a grading devise invented originally because they consume a large amount of gold powder. Gold leaf ground finally enough, hot water is poured and left for a while so that fine particles of gold powder would be sort out. They are dried out and become gold powder for kinsai decoration finally. Fine particles of gold powder are sold, but the handmade gold powder is finer and restores the gold color better, so Kinkeshi is a necessary process at Kinzangama Kiln.