The colourful work of Yoshita Minori (b. 1932) belies its Kutani origin. As the third generation head of the Kinzan Kiln, Yoshita Minori now bears the torch of carrying on the Yuri-kinsai technique. This glaze type translates to “gold colors beneath” and was developed in the mid 1960s. Yoshita was designated in 2001 for this under-glaze gold decoration. Using gold foil, the decoration is shaped and applied to his vessels. These are then glazed and fired, locking the gold in position. The decoration is rich but its restrained use against subtle background colours creates ceramics of quiet elegance and originality.
Unlike typical brushed-on gold leaf decoration, the Yuri-kinsai technique provides a slight relief on the clay surface, creating a subtle drop-shadow glow against the polychrome background. Gold leaf is an extremely fragile material, even more so when adhered to the surface of an unglazed vessel. It requires an extraordinarily steady hand followed by very precise heat control during the firing process to get the desired outcome with Yuri-kinsai. Yoshita developed his own technique to enhance the ephemeral and lightweight look of the gold leaf. He applies it using alternating layers of thick and thin gold leaf prior to firing. The thin layers melt slightly into the glaze during firing, creating a transparent effect while the thick layer remains opaque.