Forged in Metal: Deshi/Shisyou- Mentee/Mentor And exhibition of student and teacher artwork from Japan

This blog documents the exhibition opening of Forged in Metal: Deshi/Shisyou- Mentee/Mentor and the related workshops and lectures that were held at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. The exhibition and related workshops and lectures were organized by Renee Zettle-Sterling and Jim Bové. The exhibition will remain on view to the public until November 2nd, 2012 before returning to Japan. An exhibition catalog will be released shortly.

This exhibition explores the artwork of students and teachers from Hiko Mizuno Jewelry College in Tokyo, Japan.  Not only were we interested in showcasing the amazing artwork that is coming out of Japanese schools, but we wanted to open dialog about how students and teachers influence each other.  Deshi/Shisyou equates to the English Mentee/Mentor.  It was intentional to place the student, the mentee, first. Learning is a two-way street.  Often we are inspired by the innovative ways in which our students view things and how they interpret ideas and techniques.  As I document the workshops here, I invite people to express how they were influenced by a teacher, or by a student.

Link to exhibition details in the Lanthorn newspaper

http://www.lanthorn.com/article/2012/10/metals-from-across-the-world

Enjoy,

Jim Bové

Co-curator of Forged in Metal: Deshi/Shisyou- Mentee/Mentor


Opening Reception

Toasting to an amazing opening at the Grand Valley Performing arts Center.  Shown here in front of images of the student participants are co-curators Jim Bové, Renee Zettle-Sterling, Student Natsuko Kawabata and Teacher Yoshinori Tsukudate.


It was very important for us to have both a student and teacher present.  Yoshi (as he let us call him) is an expert in traditional Japanese metalsmithing techniques and taught nuno-me zogan (fabric pattern inlay), mokume gane and how to make shibuichi along with rokusho (a patina used to color the different alloys used in Japanese metalwork). Natsuko assisted in the workshops and presented her own work during a lecture.

Students enjoying the artwork.  Both students and teachers were exhibited together, information cards on the outside of the cases included an image of the artist.

Artist Talks

Yoshinori Tsukudate speaks to a full gallery about his artwork.  Yoko Sekino-Bove did an amazing job translating.

Natsuko Kawabata (sitting to the left facing audience) talks about her work and answers questions about her artwork and her school.

Workshops

Yoshi began his workshop by teaching the traditional Japanese in-lay technique of Nuno-me Zogan (fabric pattern in-lay).  Several years ago he wrote an article on this technique for SNAG news.

A true teacher and educator, Yoshi made sure to pay attention to every student. Here, James is getting a one-on-one demonstration of the chiseling technique.  Yoshi makes it look easy, but it takes time to develop the skills needed to place five strikes per millimeter close together and parallel.

Once the 'fabric pattern' is laid in, gold or silver foil is cut to shape and tapped into place to create your design. Here a student uses a bamboo rod to tap the foil down.  Once everything is in place, a copper rod will be lightly hammered over the surface to permanently secure the foil.

The metal used for the Nuno-me Zogan pieces was Shibuichi, an alloy of copper and silver.  Yoshi and Natsuko prepare the chemical Rokusho in order to patina the work.  The same patina will affect different alloys of copper and silver (some with a percentage of gold) differently.

The key to making sure the silver and gold foil does not get affected by the patina is Daikon.  The radish juice has some property that makes this possible.  The beauty of this process is that no one really knows why the radish juice works, it just does.

Daikon also makes a healthy snack.

Natsuko checking the progress of a student's work.  By lifting the piece out of the patina and submerging it directly into water to view, the oxidation process is controlled.

Artwork sample before patina (notice the pattern chiseled in to hold the gold and silver foil)

Artwork after the patina. Two of the most amazing things about this process 1. the gold and silver are completely unaffected by the patina (due to the daikon juice)  2. Even a slight change in the alloy will produce a different color or shade.

Mokume Gane Demo

Set up for mokume gane demonstration (bag of silver and gold in the center will be used for the shibuichi demo next).  Note that Yoshi will use the two stainless steel plates on the far right to sandwich the copper and silver metal squares.

Careful stacking of the plates.

A small, open sided oven is built for the jig.  Yoshi prefers the natural gas/air torch as his heat source.

Fusing temperature has been reached.

Once the plates start to 'sweat', the fusing process is complete.

A student admires the billet of mokume gane.

After hot forging the billet into a sheet, then rolling it out in a rolling mill, a pattern is created by either scoop chisel, or in this case, drilling.

Shibuichi

Here Yoshi demonstrates creating an ingot of shibuichi.

As you can see, the shear amount of information taught in just a few short days was immense.   But we didn't just work our esteemed visitors...

Free time

It turns out Yoshi is quite an excellent bowler.

Lake Michigan.

It was a long day trip from Grand Rapids Michigan, but Chicago was a blast.  After deep-dish pizza (I mean we had to have some, right?) we toured the city's art.

I had to post this picture of Renee, less than 24 hours after major surgery on her hand she was back with her Japanese guests.  This project took over a year of active planning, grant writing and coordinating between several schools, agencies and scores of people.  She did an amazing job bringing this wealth of artwork and metalsmtihing knowledge to the US. No wonder something as simple as surgery wouldn't keep her down!

Thank you for looking over this blog.  I hope you enjoyed it.  The catalog of the artwork that was exhibited will be out shortly. If you have a chance, try to see the show before it comes down in November, it is worth it!

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Tags: Bove, Forged, Japan, Jim, Metal, Renee, Zettle, exhibition, sterling

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Comment by Jim Bove on October 17, 2012 at 10:38am

Fixed some broken images for the e-book version of the catalog.  Everything is ready for downloading!

http://store.blurb.com/ebooks/346109-forged-in-metal-deshi-shisyou-...

Comment by Jim Bove on October 16, 2012 at 12:10pm

The actual idea for this exhibition began in 2007 during the Metalsmiths Linking: A Cross-Cultural Exchange exhibition and workshop/lecture series that promoted North American artists in Japan.  During the event, in which Renee Zettle-Sterling was a participant, she began brainstorming about a show that would happen in the US.  It took years of inquiries, planning and talking with many people and offices before a large number of people were committed enough to make this happen. 
Yoko Sekino-Bove offered her help in translating so that the process could go smoothly and easily.  We tend to think of the paperwork and grant writing as the biggest hurdle and often forget that the language barrier can be one of the biggest issues.

It was only in the last year and a half that formal plans and commitments could be made.  It is always an amazing thing to have a show that you planned come together. This is my forth international exhibition that I have been a part of.  Knowing what goes into making these shows happen builds an even deeper appreciation for those people who bring us art to enjoy. It is not an easy thing, my hat is off to all of you who have curated or worked towards enriching our lives.

Comment by Jim Bove on October 15, 2012 at 12:20pm

Thank you Julie!  I should also mention that I used Julie's workshop sample for the before and after patina images!

Comment by Julie Sanford on October 15, 2012 at 11:19am

Wonderful photos of the events surrounding your exhibition Jim!  It is such a pleasure to see these candid shots! You and Renee have both done an amazing job bringing this cultural metals exchange to fruition. Looking forward to the exhibition catalog.  Cheers!

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