Thrush's Promise

                                                                                             collection of Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum

This nest was made using a combination of techniques to both move the metal to obtain the basic form, along with carving or stock-removal to refine the form. The details were chased and engraved as seen in the photos. As with most of my work I drew on both European and Japanese methods of forming, namely repousse, which works primarily from the back and uchidashi which works from the front. It has never been my intent to conform strictly to any tradition for the sake of purity and I utilize whatever combination of technique seems appropriate to realize the result I am seeking. The use of terms to describe physical processes will always be somewhat lacking and, in my opinion, it is always the final result that should be judged on merit. My use of some Japanese terms will always be toward the end of clarification and conciseness, rather than implying that my work conforms to a strict traditional Japanese mode, which has never been my intent.


The uchidashi technique involves hammer and punch forming flat metal sheet from the front side, defining a form in a way that retains the thickness. The definition of form, before the details are added, leaves the piece appearing much as though a thin cloth or piece of clay were draped over it. The details are then chased in.

Uchidashi differs from the European approach of punching the form from the back, which thins the metal. Retaining the thickness allows for much more potential in the later defining of detail. Although familiar and fascinated with uchidashi for years, and having had the technique demonstrated to me by Toshimasa-sensei of Osaka, I had seldom used it, as it has rarely been appropriate to my designs. It was a joyful realization that with this project I would be able to move further into combining uchidashi with my engraving and chasing skills.

This piece, being rather shallow, did not exploit the technique to it's fullest. It's not difficult to imagine, once one grasps the fundamental concept, how some remarkably deep pieces are possible.













From the drawing a sheet of 2%

shibuichi was sawn, allowing enough excess for the depth of the final piece.





It's important to grasp that the depth is not being achieved by stretching the central area, but by pushing horizontally from the side, leaving the central mass nowhere to go but up. Because the central mass is not hammered, it's left at full thickness. Initially there is some downward pushing in order to get the beginnings of a "wall" to push against.

Initially, a slight doming can be done from the back using a broad wood punch that does not thin the metal.

The photo below shows the slight doming achieved by hammering with a wood punch into soft pitch. I use NorthWest Pitchworks medium.








With the outline of the nest drawn in pencil, a wood punch is used to enhance the dome, keping the nest form outline as a guide. Again, this was done into softened pitch in the pitch-bowl, which holds the piece but allows the metal to be formed.






In the photo below I have begun using steel chasing punches to deepen and refine the form as well as to begin the forming of the inner part of the nest. It's important to avoid folding the metal over itself.

Seen in the background are two mylar patterns for the overall shape and the inner nest cavity. For this step the punch faces should be rough, not polished to aid in "grabbing" the metal.







The photo below shows the deepening continuing with successive courses with the blunt tracer into the pitch.

I like to anneal after every course, which maybe overly cautious, but better to err that way. It was not my aim to create a very deep piece, but it can be seen that if you were to continue pushing in from the sides, the central area would be gradually raised up, potentially quite high. It's always left at full thickness as no tool is touching it.










                    Below the details are beginning to be chased, using a mylar pattern as a guide.





















                                                      Details are refined using engraving and chasing.