Sakai Mika is passionate about the study of color, but the Japanese nerikomi ceramics artist initially cultivated that interest by studying fashion design at Tokyo’s famous fashion school, Mode Gakuen.
After graduation, Mika took a course in ceramics while pursuing fashion-related jobs. The class helped her to realize that clay is perfect for her explorations of color and function, the two points that she considers to be most important to her work. Both are also important considerations in fashion.
Mika likens her discovery of the creative possibilities of ceramics to an electric shock. It came after an exposure to nerikomi, a style of pottery in which the clay is tinted, layered in precise ways, and then sliced to form a slab that is pressed into or onto a mold. The work’s color and decoration are created by the patterned clay, differing from ceramics which derive their color from surface-applied glazes or techniques.
Mika’s enthusiasm for nerikomi resulted in a two-year apprenticeship under expert Murofushi Eiji. The time she spent with her teacher impressed upon her the importance of precision in creating a crisp design, something that is difficult to maintain when increasing the scale of a piece.
We at KotoKoto were particularly taken by Mika’s skillful work because we first thought that her beautiful patterns were decals applied to the pottery! Notably, she began winning awards for her work during her apprenticeship.
Although nerikomi is a variation on an ancient technique, Mika sensibly approaches her color studies in a modern way: by testing color combinations on the computer. She replicates the most successful ones in clay.
Mika’s gift for color work makes it easy to take the beauty of her forms for granted. The pieces are simple because she wants her work to be used, a core sentiment for us at KotoKoto. As a result, Mika designs with ease of washing and stacking in mind.
Studio KotoKoto is thrilled to bring Mika’s beautiful nerikomi ceramics to the United States and to share her skill and story with our readers and customers. We hope that you enjoy them as much as we do.