Blue and white pottery

photo Blue and white pottery


Blue and white pottery (called sometsuke in Japanese) is made by painting designs on white bisque fired pottery with a cobalt-rich pigment known as gosu or zaffer. It is then coated with a transparent glaze and glaze fired. This technique has been used in China since the Yuan Dynasty (around the 12th century).
The pigment, zaffer is black or brown before firing, but it turns a beautiful deep blue during glaze firing. The subtle differences in color resulting from the artist's brushstrokes or variations in pigment thickness are part of what makes blue and white ware so enchanting.


  1. 1.A rough sketch is drawn on the piece with a pencil.
  2. 2.The outlines of the design are painted with a fine brush.
  3. 3.Fill in the outlines, varying the thickness of the pigment.
  4. 4.Coat with a glaze that will turn transparent when fired.
  5. 5.Before the firing, the glazed pottery will appear completely white.
  6. 6.After glaze firing, areas painted with zaffer turn deep blue.
  • "What Are Traditional Crafts? -A Guidebook to Seeing, Learning, and Enjoying-" Edited by the Japan Kogei Association Eastern Branch. Published by Unsodo Reference artworks