Mishima is a technique of inlaying slip, underglaze, or even clay into a contrasting clay body, the main clay body of the pottery piece. This technique allows for extremely fine, intricate design work with hard, sharp edges that can be difficult to reliably replicate in any other way.
Although we know this technique by the name "mishima", it is quite misleading. Mishima is actually a city in Japan. Although many Japanese pottery techniques are called after their city of origin or the family name of the first practitioners (i.e. Raku), this is not the case with mishima.
What we know as mishima first was produced in Korea during the Koryo Period (935-1392 AD). The technique reached stunning heights in the 12th and 13th century Korean celadons. The term we now use took hold as this type of pottery, introduced from Korea, was compared to the script used on calendars created at the shrine at Mishima.
Today, we can use this same technique to create exciting pottery and ceramic art that continues to bring delight and fascination to others. Creating a mishima piece basically involves six steps: creating the pot, incising the design, filling the design, removing excess material, drying the piece, and firing. We will be discussing incising clay for a mishima design next.