18 October 2022

What is Hanazume?

Kutani ware, known for its vivid colors and detailed yet bold designs, has captured the hearts of people all around the world. And "Hanazume" is one of the most luxurious and elegant techniques used to express the lavish and captivating beauty of Kutani ware. 

Learn more about this remarkable technique through its history, production process and actual pieces decorated by skilled craftsmen. 

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  • About the Hanazume Technique
  • When Was the First Hanazume Created?
  • How is the Hanazume Pattern Painted?
  • An Everlasting Bouquet of Flowers

About The Hanazume Technique

"Hanazume" is a Japanese word meaning "packed with flowers" and as the name implies, it is a style of painting where the surface of an item is filled with various kinds flowers in various colors, sizes and shapes. Kutani ware utilizes the colorfulness of its overglaze to its fullest to showcase the detailed floral designs made with the Hanazume technique. Needless to say, the Hanazume technique requires great skill and patience to master.  

The History of Hanazume

Hanazume is one of the modern Kutani techniques which was developed about 100 years ago. This technique is said to have been created around 1913 by Shiro Mizuta, a Kutani master ceramic artist.

Kutani ware which had been known for its colorful and elegant designs became a thriving export industry at the end of the 19th century. With the influence of modern paintings and Western crafts, modern styles of Kutani ware, known as "modern Kutani," were born.
Hanazume is one of the techniques that emerged as a result of these influences.

How is the Hanazume Pattern Painted?

Like other Kutani ware styles, there are multiple steps in creating an item using the Hanazume style. 

1. Underglazing

Underglazing is the process of applying an enamel coating to an unglazed piece of pottery. It is important to work quickly to achieve an even coat of enamel across the entire piece. This process alone requires a skillful hand to complete perfectly. 
The coated pieces are then fired at about 1300 °C (2372 °F).

2. Overglazing: Colors on Flowers

As with other Kutani ware pieces, the outline of the floral patterns is then  painted on to the fired items with a black pigment called Gosu.

After the floral patterns are lined with Gosu and then fired again, the colorful flowers are painted. Artisans at each kiln carefully design the floral patterns to cover the entire surface of an item. Floral patterns may be entirely hand-painted or stamped. Hand-painted designs allow for more flexibility and stamped designs products have an even floral pattern.

Originally, Kutani ware overglaze paints consisted of five colors, but colors have increased over time as artists developed new colors and imported paints from overseas.

Presently, a wide variety of colors are used, and there are a wide range of color designs for Hanazume. The process of applying colors to the delicate floral patterns on the surface of porcelain requires patience and perseverance. 

The painted items are then fired at a temperature of approximately 850°C( 1,562 °F) to set the colored designs onto the surface.

3. Kinsai–Gold Painting

After overglazing, the floral outlines and detailed finishing touches to the piece are gilded.

Kin(gold)-Hanazume has become the standard style of Hanazume, and many Hanazume designs are finished with gold outlines. The gold painting is fired at 750 °C (1,382 °F) which is lower than the overglaze temperature, to maintain the vividness of the gold. 

Hanazume is fired at least three times and sometimes up to five times if there are modifications to the piece.

The entire process up to this point is said to take about five weeks, so it is made with great care, requiring a great amount of time and effort.

An Everlasting Bouquet of Flowers

Although fairly new as a technique within the long history of Kutani Ware, the Hanazume style embraces the traditional colorfulness and elegant detailed beauty of Kutani ware.
An item fully decorated with intricate floral patterns accented with gold and thick white pigments for added dimension is like a bouquet of flowers that is everlasting throughout the seasons and will add a very festive touch to your table.

The vivid colors with gold has a luxurious feel, but the floral drawings also make items with the Hanazume style suitable for everyday use as well.
It is a very cheerful design suitable for gifts for occasions such as Mother's Day, birthdays and as housewarming gifts.

Choose a Kutani ware item to decorate your table and home that beholds the charm and gracefulness of the Hanazume design.

Recommended Hanazume Items

Taishi Kiln Hanazume Kutani Matcha Bowl Chawan

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Pink Hanazume Kutani Houhin Japanese Teapot Set with 2 Teacups

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Hanazume Kutani Sauce Plate Set 

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