Sakurako Matsushima’s Tremendous Lacquer Jewelry


Sakurako Matsushima’s Tremendous Lacquer Jewelry

by Diccon Sandrey | CRAFT

© Sakurako Matsushima

Why should contemporary jewelry be inconspicuous? Artist Sakurako Matsushima believes it doesn’t have to be.

Japanese sculptors have been using the Kanshitsu technique of lacquer craft since the seventh century. Matsushima recognized the potential of the artform to create beautiful lightweight body ornamentation.


How to Make Kanshitsu Lacquerware

The Kanshitsu process involves applying successive coats of lacquer-soaked hemp cloth over a clay or plaster form. This must be done carefully as liquid urushi (lacquer) is poisonous to the touch. In a manner somewhat similar to papier-mâché, each sodden layer hardens when dry into a rigid skin. The piece is then ready for decoration.



For this stage Matsushima uses mother of pearl or egg shells. She also uses gold or silver powder to fill out a sketch on the surface of the lacquer. This latter process is known as maki-e. To fix the decorations in place, a few final coats of lacquer) are applied and polished.

© Sakurako Matsushima

International Lacquer Art

As well as a talented artist and university professor, Matsushima is also the director of the Asian Lacquer Craft Exchange Research Project which aims to revitalize the art form with technical and educational exchanges between lacquer artisans in Japan and Myanmar, as well as other South-East Asian Nations.

See more of Matsushima’s outstanding art jewelry at

Intrigued? Delighted? Questions? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

July 10, 2017 | CraftJewelryLacquer