Sometsuke – A Look Inside the Ceramic Workshop of Singama in Seto, Japan

I’ve been wanting to incorporate more workshop photography in to the blog here but it’s surprisingly hard to come across. It would be great to highlight the craftsman’s techniques so we can get a better insight in to their processes and profile these artists in more detail. As part of a ceramic project that I took part in this month I was lucky enough to visit the Japanese city of Seto, one of Japan’s six most ancient kiln towns, so I wanted to highlight some of the imagery here and talk about the different makers.

One workshop that particularly inspired me was the studio of Singama, a pottery founded in 1919 specialising in “sometsuke”, a blue dye that penetrates in to the ceramic before being glazed. Young craftsman Mayuki Kato is the daughter of this family run business and is pushing a modern spin on a traditional craft through her creative flower drawings and line work.

The dye, or “gosu”, is selected specifically to create a beautiful contrast. This teamed with a unique firing method called “Nerashi”, where the temperature is kept high to create a runnier surface, makes for a selection of pottery that is very unique. Using a large brush when applying the dye, the tip is accurately placed on the surface of the clay and depending on the quantity of the liquid can deepen when fired. It takes a skilled craftsman to truly perfect this method that Singama has become so specialised in.

As I walked around the workshop and talked to Mayuki about their work I thought deeply about how crafts can become more relevant for our time. Singama is definitely on to something and I wanted to support their work, more pictures can be seen below or on their website attached. Also, make sure you stop by Mayuki’s website to see her different art works. I will be highlighting more photos from my trip to Seto city in the next coming week, so stay tuned for that.


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