Metronome decorated with maki-e technique (Japanese lacquer urushi)

Our partner workshop in Japan – Atelier Mitani – has created an entirely new product of traditional japanese laquer craft. This is the lacquered metronome, which combines the top lacquer decoration technique of maki-e with a music sense and technology of Europe. The lacquered metronome is without doubt a very good example of object for art and craft production. The object has both qualities – practical use and aesthetic quality.  

Atelier Mitani is a small lacquer workshop situated in the city of Wajima (one of traditional centres of lacquer craft) in Japan, the Mitani-family is active in the local lacquer production already since the 17th century. Despite the missfortune, when their workshop has been burned down during a big fire or attack of the tsunami later, the members of Mitani family  have been able to develop their craftmenship into a very high level. Only a small part of their herritage has been saved in a massive granary called kura in Japanese. Mr Akira Mitani is a skilled maki-e-shi (master of maki-e decoration), with a very strong concern in search for a new ways and possibilities. One of his new designs are these metronomes, which are far away from the mainstream of lacquer production in a sense of decorated object. The technique is traditional, on a very high level of profesionality with an added value of a fresh design.
Metronom kamélie

Metronome Camelia

Metronom Vídeň

Metronome Vienna

Mr. Akira Mitani is very concerned with the future of the japanese lacquer techniques. His maki-e metronome concept is breaking the long history of laquered objects, being mainly focused on bowls and other traditional japanese dishes. There was a good coincidence for this product just after finalization of his first piece –  it has been selected to be an official representative gift to a U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her visit to Japan. The selection was of course not only a co-incidence, Ms. Rice is a skilled pianist. That entire piece was product of a Japanese metronome maker, however since that time the company Wittner from Germany has shown an interest in decoration of their wooden series of metronomes. It is what you see on the pictures here.

As you can see , there is a wide variation of decors and basically it is expected that each customer will order the pattern which fits best his/her taste. The desired design is first object of discussion and only after the pattern is agreed, the decoration work will start. Each step is being documented on a picture of movie for the customer reference. The entire decoration work will take about 2-3 months, depending on the complexity of design.

metronom motýli

Metronome Butterflies

Except for the decorative function of the metronom as an object, the craftsmanship of each brush stroke is important and impressive as well. This can be ilustrated on my favourite piece – Butterflies. Here the maki-e technique is reaching the top of its possible expressions so far. For the maki-e technique the metalic surface is standard and main mean of expression. However Mr. Mitani is using even the coloured lacquer from the underlay of metalic powder. In his works of art this usually hidden layer shines through and makes unexpected effects on the surface. The expression of wings is therefore very realistic and with only a small portion of imagnation you will be drawn to think of whether one of the butterflies has been there since before or sits on the metronome just for a short break. 
Either you like the metronome personally  or as a gift, I am here to support you with communication skill in Japanese and high experience in the tradtional japanese laquer techniques. Please do not hesitate to contact me on the e-mail adress: kucera@urusi.cz for further details.

Metronom podzim

Metronome Autumn

Metronom květy kosmos

Metronome Flowers

Metronom jarní hory

Metronome Spring Hills