Inro – What Is It?

An Inro is a small ornamental box hung from the sash of a kimono to hold small objects such as cosmetics, perfumes, tobacco or medicines, because traditional Japanese garb lacks pockets. Inro can be made from a variety of materials including wood, ivory, bone, and lacquer (and polymer clay of course :). They evolved over time from a utilitarian article into objects of beauty and craftsmanship.

I have been playing with a technique I call Scrap Mokume Gane and I love that I can use it to make colorful pattered Inros. Ironically enough, the Mokume Gane technique is also Japanese in origin. Translated it means “wood eye metal”. Many layers of different precious metals are laminated together. The stack (or billet) is then cut or carved into to create a pattern. The metal is then flattened into a thin sheet and used for jewelry, household objects, etc.

My Inros do not have the traditional look of Mokume Gane, but I love the designs and colors I get from using scrap clay as the base and rubber stamps or texture sheets for the design. Look to my past posts for a link to my short tutorial on making the Scrap Mokume Gane sheets.

Inro 1

Inro 1

Inro 2

Inro 2

Inro 3

Inro 3

Inro 4

Inro 4

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14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Doreen
    Mar 31, 2009 @ 17:10:21

    These are really pretty! What a good use for scraps! I love the variety of colors…very colorful, yet subdued. Nice!

    Reply

  2. Marianne
    Mar 31, 2009 @ 21:04:20

    They are very, very pretty. Is the cord attached to the bottom or does it just stay on as if by magic? I hope this isn’t too stupid question.

    Reply

    • Tonja Lenderman
      Mar 31, 2009 @ 21:38:17

      Hi Marianne. I believe the only dumb question was the one not asked.

      The cording is fed up through the lid and at some point will have a clasp that with close behind your neck. I just ran out of cord ends to attach to the clasp so I didn’t show that part. 🙂

      Reply

  3. Mary Michael
    Apr 01, 2009 @ 07:36:43

    They are lovely! Thank you for sharing with us and teaching us something new.

    Reply

  4. Randee M Ketzel
    Apr 01, 2009 @ 09:17:19

    Beautiful work! the finish looks really good!

    Reply

  5. Marianne
    Apr 03, 2009 @ 16:09:37

    I’m sorry, I didn’t make myself clear when I ask about the cord. I meant how does the bottom stay on. Does the cord attach the the lower piece of the inro. I guess that I was doing to much and got to hasty in my writing.
    I am enjoying your blog.

    Reply

    • Tonja Lenderman
      Apr 03, 2009 @ 16:39:33

      Oh sorry 🙂 There are 2 holes in the bottom and 2 in the lid. I feed the end of the cord in thru the lid, then down out the bottom, then in thru the other hole in the bottom, then out thru the other hole in the lid. I add a clasp onto the cords so it closes behind the neck.

      Reply

  6. Marianne
    Apr 04, 2009 @ 16:06:33

    Aha…thank you. Very clever.

    Reply

  7. Arianalink
    May 13, 2009 @ 10:03:17

    Thanks for posting, definitely going to subscribe! See you on my reader.

    Reply

  8. jimmye wolfe
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 02:56:00

    all of your work is absolutely beautiful! good job!

    Reply

  9. jimmye wolfe
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 03:00:44

    the jewelery is beautiful

    Reply

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