​inrō (印籠) are traditional Japanese vessels for holding small objects suspended from the obi as kimonos and robes lacked pockets. Unlike sagemono, more utilitarian containers meant for larger objects like tobacco, pipes, writing brush and ink,  inrō carried anything small, most commonly identity seals and medicine. These were often lavishly decorated in a variety of materials and techniques, most often lacquer.

Inspired by this ancient Japanese art of making the useful beautiful, I have created these signed, one-of-kind contemporary inrō for carrying all things miniature and modern, a wise saying perhaps, or an important key, anything delicious and discreet. I laminate up to a dozen paper-thin layers of polymer clay for strength and luster. The final veneers are silk screened and/or painted, or built up sculpturally with hand-designed elements, meticulously burnished using 8 successive sandpaper grits,  I then embellish each one individually with hand-painted beads, tassels, O rings etc. and finish by stringing on silk or nitrile buna cord, easily adjustable to any length. 

inrō can be worn tied to a belt or as neck adornment or even displayed on the latch of a prized cabinet when not in use. It is customary when presenting an inrō as a gift to tuck inside a short expression of affection or gratitude.

Jane Kirkwood, Artist