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metal work box


Doug Sanders

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I culled this photo from the Nihon- Kogeiten website http://www.nihon-kogeikai.com/index-E.html

 

It's a box in shibuichi and shakudo using what they've called the 'heat weld' method. I was wondering if anyone on the list could briefly surmise how it was done. Are all the individual pieces cut out of sheets of their respective alloys and then assembled marquetry-like onto a support sheet of metal?

 

Curiously,

Doug

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Guest ford hallam

Hi there Doug,

 

The item you`ve posted would have had the panels made as you suggested, although I`ve not seen similar pieces that have a backing sheet to the composite. Without looking inside I`d be guessing but I would imagine that given the professionals pride in their technique using a backing sheet would be seen as "the easy option". In my experience the technical difficulty and complexity of the pieces displayed by members of the Kogeikai is very much appreciated by their supporters.

 

hope this helps, Ford

 

I imagine "heat weld" refers to hard ( ie; silver ) soldering.

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Guest ford hallam

Me again,

 

Looking at the box I realize I`ve not really clarified its construction process much.

The striped leaf like shapes of graduations of shibuichi were probably soldered up as individual rectangular strips, cut to shape then inlayed into the side of the silver box. You can see destinct silver bands defining each tapering banded shape, they would be necessary to hold each individual piece in place. Simple really :)

 

It is possible that the banded strips were not soldered together but rather fused together in a process similar to that used in making the so called mokume-gane or wood grain metal. While it is technically possible I`ve not met anyone who creates patterned sheet this way. Then again I`ve not met everybody, yet. :lol:

 

Ford

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Guest ford hallam

further thoughts,

 

I`ve had another look at the box this morning, with eyes that ar`nt so blurry and it looks as though what I thought were silver areas/ strips between the banded sections are actually striped. Narrow striped inlay like that would be done using a strip of tightly twisted wire formed from two dissimilar wires. To backtrack on what I suggested in my last post, these striped wire inlays may actually hide solder joins.

Perhaps a sandwich of graduated shibuichi is fused and then forged out on its side into a sheet. The elements of the design cut out and soldered together and the solder joins hidden by the striped wire inlay.

 

Without actually examining the piece itself all the previous is speculation, but I`m confidant the truth is in there somewhere :lol:

 

 

Ford

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Guest DFogg

The variations in the leaves doesn't look like mokume to me, it would be too difficult to control the pattern. I suspect it is a great patination job with masking.

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Thanks guys :)

Sounds like there are a couple of ways to go about this. I guess without seeing the actual piece we'll never know. Don, you sound like the chief skeptic. :lol:

 

I just really liked the subtleness and softness of the design- something I wouldn't normally expect with a metal box.

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Did anyone have a look at the link Doug included in his first message?

 

MUSEUM OF JAPANESE TRADITIONAL ART CRAFTS

http://www.nihon-kogeikai.com/index-E.html

One link has catalogs from the past 20+ years from exhbitions from the museum. The traditional art crafts are represented by photographs of award winners. There is also a Living National Treasure link. It is very interesting to see the contemporary-traditional work which is being recognized by this museum.

 

Thanks for the link!

 

Janel

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Sorry Janel- I guessed you would have come across this already... It's a great resource when one's eye is tired and needs inspiration. I don't know much about the organization- it seems Ford is aware of them :lol:

 

I do like the fresh contemporary designs one often finds there, utilizing what seems to me to be traditional techniques and materials. :)

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Guest ford hallam

Hi Doug,

 

I am very familiar wth the Kogeikai, in fact my teacher Izumi Koshiro is a senior member, I spent time in the studios of a number of his friends and fellow members and had the great honour of studying along side the now late Kashima Ikkoku ( National Living Treasure ) :lol:

 

Don, when I suggested that the metals were bonded together in a mokume like manner I was simply refering to the diffusion bonding process, ie without the use of solder. I`ve seen Norio Tamagawa ( leading exponent of mokumegane ) slice a section off the edge of a 50mm thich billet, a piece 5mm thick and forge it out in one direction. The induvidual sheets in the stack were probably 1.5mm thick with the result being a strip of banded metal. There have been a number of artists in Japan who have utilised exactly this process in the last 40 or so years. There are also many contemporary pieces that have been made using solder, the Japanese call it "hagiawase"

 

I considered your sugestion that it might be a clever patination job but have to conclude that as the colours are entirely consistant with the various grades shibuichi, that each colour represents a discrete alloy. One other possibility, though doubtful ( for the same reasons cited earlier ) is that a very dark ( ie low silver content ) shibuichi was used and using a masking process as you suggested, the surface lightly etched to leach out the copper. This would result in a higher silver concentration and correspondingly lighter patina colour. I have used this technique on a couple of occasions and it is not uncommon on Meiji period pieces. The graduation however is not as regular nor the steps that destinct.

 

All this probably clouds the whole issue all the more , but hey! Doug, you asked! :)

 

as always, Ford

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Guest DFogg

I would love to see this piece, it has me interested now. If it is a laminate, that is one really trick pattern.

 

Have you every heard of plating with alloys of copper? I ran some experiments a while back using shakudo as an annode, but don't know enough about what I am looking at to draw a firm conclusion. It looked good to me though. I will have to try it again since it was a while ago and now I have some shibuichi to play with too.

 

Interesting.

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I'm almost certain those are soldered pieces. In the darker areas you can make out lighter margins between the pieces, highly suggestive of solder lines. Those margins wouldn't be so apparent between the lighter pieces.

 

I met some guys in Kyoto who had plated shakudo. They got it to plate just fine, but the patination didn't work out.

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Guest ford hallam

Don, Jim,

 

You mentioned plating, when I`ve had older pieces copper plated commercially, to hide a soldered repair etc, the patination process has gone like a dream resulting in a great colour. However when i use my workshop setup which delivers a substantial finish in gold or silver, the copper finish is inevitably stained. According to the guys that developed the process it`s due to oxygen combining with the Cu molecules, Oxidisation! As the commercial guys no doubt immerse their stuff and mine is a localised process I can see how that would happen.

 

I`ve worked on a couple of older pieces that have had a plated finish and a black patina but I thought the colour was`nt exactly right for shakudo, it looked a bit like it had been applied with a marker pen!

 

But back to Dougs box, In the final analysis I think I would agree with Jim,( who obviously has really excellent glasses, must get some ) and go back to my original observation that the sections appear to be soldered together. But as you say Don, we`d be able to work it out if we could handle the thing, perhaps I can arrange for them to loan it to us. ;):D

 

Ford B)

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Guest DFogg

Beautiful piece though, what an interesting use of the colors.

 

Ford, you must do a lot of this deconstructive investigating, it is really interesting to get your perspective. Got an riddles to share?

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Guest ford hallam

Don,

 

Pretty much most of my restoration work over the last 10 years or so has been exactly that, I`m sure you can imagine the state that some of these rather delicate objects end up in. Often at the hands of well meaning owners or worse, careless restorers! :(

 

It`s always a relief to be presented with an object that has not been touched. Then it`s only a matter of removing 100 or so years of grime and unwanted tarnish etc. I`ve learnt so much this way from some of the greatest metal artists who`ve ever lived. I have been exceptionally lucky in this way. Probably a unique training. Obviously I try to retain some feeling of age in the finish but generally these particular objects are quite loud, if you know what I mean. Both Jim and i agree that technically they are remarkable but subtle they are not. ;)

 

Having very demanding and knowledgeable clients has meant that I have had to become extremely precise in my assesment and restoration of alloys, colour and finishes etc. I could tell you many stories of efforts lasting literally day and night which often ended in tears of frustration, thankfully those days are a distant memory now, although I`m continually surprised by the inventiveness of the Japanese craftsman ( or woman, Sorry Janel ). B)

 

Of course coming back from Japan with a pretty good grasp of how to make new stuff was`nt really enough to deal with the damage that these antiques often suffer, also metals can change a lot over time, generally as a result of very fine surface corrosion. The result being that the surface composition is different to the underlying metal, serious problem if local areas need filing , polishing etc. In effect I`ve had to create a technology to deal with the ravages of time. This is not really something that is addressed in Japan, which is why I`m occasionally in the odd position of doing work for collectors in Japan, not always directly though. A matter of face, :D perhaps.

 

As for secrets, there are probably loads of things I do as a matter of course but I`m sure you well know it`s very difficult to pick out one thing that makes your work effective. I find that with traditional work there is just so much background that imparting specific "bits" is very hard to do effectively. This is why I think I`ve ended up working solely in this manner. It is very much a complete and quite different operating system ( to borrow a computing term ) if you like.

 

Certainly where relevent, I`ll be posting bits of info such as chisel shapes, use of scrapers on metal etc. perhaps I can get round to doing a tutorial or some such. I certainly intend to do that when/if I ever get a site up. Though I`m still inclined to producing a workshop manual. Still, I`ll have to create the photo`s so this forum could be a useful testing ground.

 

Well, must get back to the bench, my mistress calls.

 

Ford

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