Uchidashi (loosely translated "hammering down") is a Japanese metalworking technique for creating small 3-dimensional shapes from sheet metal. The technique has been compared to chasing/repousse because of the similarity of the tools used, but really it is quite different. I just returned from England, where I studied this technique with Ford Hallam, a top expert in Japanese metalworking. Here is a visual walk through of my first sample exercise - lots of captions for the detail-oriented. The technique itself was fabulous to learn and I hope to incorporate it into my own work, but even more importantly I learned ancient and effective ways to do finishing work. Rather than file and sandpaper, the finishing here was done with scraper and scotchstone. Big surprise is that I loved these tools! I thought they would feel mind-numbingly slow and I'd be yearning to break out my usual tools, but I wasn't. The scraper feels intuitive to use and adapts to both convex and concave shapes with ease. The scotchstone is meditative and gets into tiny corners more effectively than sandpaper.
Oh and of course you might be wanting to know how I got the red color on the copper. It is just heat-coloring - I've seen tutorials on facebook on how to do this, so the details are out there. (In general, get your copper screaming hot in a slightly reducing atmosphere, then quench immediately in hot water that contains a teaspoon or so of borax. That's it.) There were only subtle differences in technique that Ford added. Mainly, he is damn good and that's why his copper reds come out so well! If you'd like to learn more about uchidashi or Japanese metalwork in general, try Ford's new patreon page.
Although most folks would say I am in a creative field, it is actually hard to break away from the demands of fulfilling commissions (and teaching) to do new or exploratory work - i.e. stuff I'm not getting paid for! Recently I did manage to do that, and I have SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) and Halstead to thank. Last fall I made the easy decision to sign up for their competition "Hidden." It works like this - enter for a modest fee, receive a box of goodies in the mail, make a piece with said goodies (plus a found object) on the theme 'hidden' by a deadline, hopefully be chosen to have your piece included in the exhibition in May. And what jeweler wouldn't want to receive a delicious box full of shiny things?? The box came last fall, and it sat on my bench, predictably, until weeks before the deadline. It lurked there, mocking me as the deadline grew closer. Finally guilt prompted me to get busy - the kits were sold out, there were people on their waitlist, how awful would it be to waste the kit??
As a mokume person, I was so happy to open the kit and find nice thick sheets of copper and brass - just waiting to be chopped up, stacked and squeezed into a billet. Those were the easy ingredients to use. Harder were the less familiar bits - most notably the sterling silver screen, the delicate chains, the tiny silver beads. I ended up using 11 of the 17 items, but I admit the beads are still in their little bag. Having pre-cut metal parts like the copper washer and silver teardrop shape was novel and certainly influenced the design process. And I discovered I could indeed sweat-solder onto perforated silver screen without melting it - that was empowering.
Well - there's lots I could say about the meaning of the piece, but I'll leave that for another time. If you feel like it, have a look at the video so you can see the 'hidden' inside and found object, and let me know what you think the piece is about. Oh, and wish me luck! If it is accepted, it will go to Portland for a SNAG-related exhibition.
SD Voyager is an online magazine with all kinds of local info and interesting San Diego stories. They recently interviewed me as part of their "San Diego's most inspiring stories" feature, along with many other fascinating business owners. It is organized by neighborhood, so I'm part of the Point Loma/Shelter Island section. Thank you SD Voyager! Read the full article online at sdvoyager.com.
Spring class schedule up at West City - classes start January 31
WCCPL (West City Campus, Point Loma) is a continuing education jewelry/metals lab only about a mile away from Anneville Studio. With a class max of 20 and a large room full of great metals equipment, it is a vibrant and social place to learn. I'll be teaching on Wednesdays there this spring - mornings for more advanced folks and/or open lab, evenings for beginners. Registration for these classes is through the school, not me! Just follow the links to register.
In some ways, 2017 was the year of the chisel for me. Because of a new book project I'm helping Hiroko Sato-Pijanowski with (I'm creating many patterning samples and co-writing one chapter), I've been doing extensive research to find ways to efficiently pattern larger pieces of mokume. It was clear to me chiseling was the way to go, and thankfully the classes I took last March with Ford Hallam helped lead the way. Now, chisel patterning is way more fun and interesting to me than stamp patterning! It is cleaner, more adaptable to different sizes, and it really is faster.
The first bracelet was an exploration to see how many layers of material are needed to get a complex pattern. The fewer the layers, the more practical it will be to create the piece in gold, using just blank layers of silver to add strength to the bottom half of the billet. First bracelet is sterling silver with two exotic Japanese alloys - 25% shibuichi and my new favorite metal kuroshibuichi. Kuroshibuichi is the dark gray, shibuichi is the lighter gray. The gold one is finished now too - two bottom photos. Pretty happy with it.
Educator, metalsmith, jeweler, maker of custom mokume gane jewelry and wedding rings.