Alive with a surface of teeming, optically dynamic patterns, it is hard to believe that this object is over a century old. This set of octagonal plates belongs to the category of Surie (stenciled) komon-gara (repetitious small patterned styled). The surfaces were each hand-painted, one by one, using a stencil like technique that was originally developed for the kimono industry, used to transfer patterns and dye them on silk.
In the Meiji Period, a similar technique that employed machinery arose in order to mass-produce porcelain. To differentiate from the original technique of a different era, the latter method was called Inbande, as opposed to the Surie. Works such as this set of hexagonal plates were created in the beginning days of Surie, which comes through in the “imperfections” of the technique. The overlapping of the pattern, non-uniform application of blues, and uneven edges are qualities that both connoisseurs of then and now would treasure. Being among the first of their kind, they are rich with the simplicity and ingenuity of a pioneer experimenting through the unknown; a period of unconstrained exploration before certain techniques and styles calcify into convention.
While they ring with the feeling of the new, it is because they were the first among their kind. They contain and exude the energy of discovery. The gentle and graceful blue of the geometric pattern that develops in the kiln, in contrast with the flowing plant patterns and circular lines painted on the outside of the plate presents a quietly thrilling effect. Taking these old patterns out of their original context and introducing them to the 21st century, they are perfect for adorning a table setting at your next dinner party.