East-West: The Hammered Metal Object

A Traveling Group Exhibit of Contemporary Hammered Metal Art

11 artists from Japan and 11 artists from the United States.
Bringing together the work of highly skilled makers from two unique traditions of metal art, this cross-cultural event offers an opportunity to view and study the intricacies of this ancient art form.

Panel discussion at Museum of Contemporary Craft on Aug 2 from 6-8pm (Admission free)

Artists' Talk at Waterstone Gallery on Aug 17 from 11 am (Admission free, Followed by a tour of MOCC Exhibit)



There are four special workshops offered. All of them will be held at Multnomah Art Center. To apply for a workshop, please refer to the respective information as a different method is required for different workshops.

Traditional Japanese Inlay Tool-Making with Momoko Sanderson

Portrait of Momoko Okada

Create your own set of specialized Japanese metalsmithing tools in this unique workshop. Students will learn to mix traditional pitch and create their own assortment of Japanese inlay chisels. Then proceed to hand-carve bamboo for a Nunome hammer handle, custom fit to your hand. The workshop ends with demonstrations of basic Japanese inlay techniques so students can try out their new tools! Fun on its own, this weekend is also the perfect way to prepare for the in-depth workshop with Japanese inlay master Kazuo Kashima hosted by MAC in August (see page (TBD) for info). No prerequisite. Class price includes $95 studio fee, which covers material to make ten custom Japanese chisels, one Nunome hammer and specialized pitch, as well as brass and fine silver wire to test your new tools. After 1st class, these fees are non-refundable.

When: July 20 (Sat) & 21 (Sun)
Time: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Where: Multnomah Arts Center
Tuition: $245
Registration: Through MAC

Go to MAC's site to register >

or call 503-823-2787 to register

Moving Metal: The Art of Raising with Greg Wilbur

Portrait of greg_wilbur

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to transform a 6" flat sheet of copper into a bowl or vessel under the tutelage of internationally-renowned master metalsmith, Greg Wilbur. Using metal hammers and stakes, students will learn the simple complexity of the technique of concentric raising. Design possibilities, surface treatment and patinas will be explored. Suitable for both beginners and more experienced metalsmiths, the instructor will take a personal approach to maximize each student’s progress in this fast-paced workshop. Bring your raising hammer(s) and stakes to first class if you have them, along with a pair of gloves and ear protection (plugs or muffs). No prerequisite, though some hand strength is required. Class price includes materials and studio fee of $25 (precious metals and other supplemental materials not included). After 1st class, these fees are non-refundable.

When: August 24 (Sat) & 25 (Sun)
Time: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Where: Multnomah Arts Center
Tuition: $195
Registration: Through MAC

Go to MAC's site to register >

or call 503-823-2787 to register

Traditional Japanese Nunome Inlay Workshop with Master Kazuo Kashima

Portrait of Kazuo Kashima

In this workshop, Japanese inlay Master Kazuo Kashima will introduce you to the traditional Japanese inlay technique called Nunome Zogan, a cloth-weave textured inlay. Most commonly, Nunome Zogan is used on hard metals such as iron or steel, but in this class, you will learn “Kashima-style” Nunome Zogan. on various nonferrous metal alloys, such as Shibuichi (a high-copper Japanese silver alloy), Kuromido (a Japanese alloy of copper and metallic arsenic), Shakudo (a Japanese alloy of copper and gold), Brass, Copper and more. Students will be able to observe the master first-hand and receive personal instruction on their own sample projects during the ample work time. Tuition Includes: One 2”x 2” square each of Kuromido, Shibuichi, and brass, a 4”x4” sheet of fine silver foil, and fine silver wire.

*Important Note: Nunome and line inlay chisels and a Nunome Hammer are required for this workshop. Students who have taken a tool-making workshop with Momoko Sanderson (like the one offered through MAC July 20-21,2013) will have a complete set, or a set can be purchased in this workshop for $105 (cash/check)

When: July 27 (Sat) & 28 (Sun)
Time: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Where: Multnomah Arts Center
Tuition: $350
Registration: Through registration form

Traditional Japanese Wire Inlay Workshop with Master Satoshi Hara

Portrait of Statoshi Hara

The students in this workshop will learn the traditional Japanese inlay techniques used to create intricate graphic patterns of dots and lines. The focus will be on learning to apply this decorative inlay to three-dimensional objects, as well as flat sheet. After some practice in the technique, students will complete their own patterned 80mm x 70mm “swing cup” (a cup that rocks on its rounded base – photo below). Each cup will be finished with an interior gilding of 24K gold from the renowned gold leaf factories in Kanazawa, Japan.

When: August 3 (Sat) & 4 (Sun)
Time: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Where: Multnomah Arts Center
Tuition: $350
Registration: Through registration form

• To learn more about the complete Metalsmithing and Jewelry Program at MAC, click here.

• To view all of the metals/jewelry classes and workshops MAC has to offer this summer, see pages 24-27 of the MAC Summer Schedule.


By Eileen Cotter Howell, with contributions from Momoko Okada and Greg Wilbur

About 9000 years ago in the Near East, man first learned to extract metal from the earth and hammer it into an object. Ever since then, the hands of metalsmiths have shaped the collective history of man.

The use of metal is so essential to the story of man’s advancement that early stages of development are named for the metals that dominated those eras: The Copper Age, The Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Metal craftsmen held important places in early societies because they created objects that were necessities for all aspects of life: tools for farming, hunting and war, vessels for domestic and religious rituals, ceremonial objects that marked the passages of birth and death.

By 1000 BC, almost all the peoples of the Old World had metals, from the Near East to the Mediterranean, across Persia to India, from China down to Japan. (banrepcultural.org. par 5) For centuries, metalwork was predominantly functional. With time, the value of an object rose with the uniqueness of its design. Metalwork had grown into an art form.

The lineage of Japanese metalwork dates back more than 2000 years, when metal techniques were brought from China through Korea. In those early centuries, most of the metal work was made for temple and shrine ceremonial use or decoration, though metal objects for everyday use also had their place.

Sometime between 1185-1333, the tea ceremony was introduced to Japan, again by China. In the 16th century, the monk Rikyu developed a new form of the ceremony that emphasized a simple environment and instruments. Through the tea ceremony, Rikyu influenced all of Japanese traditional art, culture and philosophy. The Japanese tea ceremony is both cultural and spiritual in nature. Experiencing the wholeness of the practice and process of the tea ceremony leads one to a greater understanding and appreciation of the Japanese aesthetic sense. Japanese decorative metalwork developed alongside the growth of the tea ceremony, as well as by the more traditional venue of religious rituals.

In the late 1800’s, two factors contributed substantially to a decline in handcrafted metal goods in Japan. After the collapse of the samurai rule, a ban on wearing swords was instituted by the government. This affected metalworkers, many of who made their living by making ornamental fittings for swords. Around the same time the government also introduced the use of Western mechanical technology to the production of metalwork, essentially replacing the hands of the metalworker. In time, an increase in demand for metal goods in foreign markets and the introduction of Japanese traditional crafts into international exhibitions rejuvenated the tradition of handcrafted metalwork. Today metalworking is a highly respected modern art form. (Handbook. par 3.)

The spread of metalwork in the West followed an arc from Sumer to Egypt, to the Mediterranean and the rest of Europe. The earliest relics found in Europe are mostly liturgical. When the Church moved to the use of silver around the 17th C, objects made of copper, bronze and brass became more common in middle class homes. Each region of Europe developed its own metalworking style and this diversity was brought to the new land of America. American metalwork is still young and is marked by its composite nature, reflecting the diversity of its influences.

Before the influx of Europeans, native peoples hammered and etched copper into personal adornments or fashioned beads out of copper or silver. The traditions brought to the New World by the European settlers changed the metalwork of these native craftsmen. The Spanish silversmiths were an early influence throughout the Southwest. In the 1700s and 1800s, jewelry art featured turquoise inlay and overlays of silver.

The metalwork of the Georgian period in England strongly influenced colonial silversmiths, among them the well-known American Paul Revere. Early on, the silversmiths created flatware, candlesticks and decorative arts. The economic constraints caused by the Revolutionary War turned them to more practical materials such as brass, iron and copper, suitable for the construction of church bells and ships’ hulls.

The use of ironwork in the colonies depended on the colony’s country of origin. It was more prevalent in the German settlements of Pennsylvania and the French settlements of Louisiana than the British colonies of New England. By the 18th C practical objects such as weather vanes, locks and fireplace implements took on a more decorative flair with the introduction of wrought iron.


Contemporary metal artworks in Japan and America reflect their individual origins in these two traditions. Very similar tools are used, but the results are quite different. Japanese students choose one specific metal technique to master: “chukin” (casting), “chokin” (inlay or repousse), or tankin (raising). Japanese metalsmiths will investigate and analyze that technique for the rest of their lives, expressing its intricacies on simple, time-honored forms. Surfaces are often highly embellished, yielding a refined, detailed, classical-looking object. The work of a metalsmith can become so highly prized that the artist is recognized as a national living treasure in that one specific technique.

Generally speaking, contemporary American metal work is more individualistic and concept-driven than Japanese metal work. American students are taught a wide range of techniques, and as working artists they often move from one technique to another. For Americans, a technique is less a study in perfection as it is a means for expressing a concept or emotion. As a result, American technical knowledge tends to be broader, reflecting many influences, while Japanese technical knowledge tends to be more focused and deeper. While the American work also features surface embellishments, they are commonly not as intricate as those found on Japanese work.

East- West: The Hammered Metal Object is an invitational exhibition featuring the work of 11 Japanese metal artists and 11 American metal artists. The techniques you see in this exhibit are essentially the same as those used by our ancestors for many, many centuries: hammering, raising, forging, embossing, chasing, gilding, inlaying, repousse’, casting. The refinements you see are the culmination of an individual artist’s lifetime of knowledge. They are also a reflection of man’s deep understanding of the latent possibilities and inherent beauty of metal.


"A History of Metalworking| Banrepcultural.org." (n.d.): n. p. A History of Metalworking | Banrepcultural.org. Web. 14 June 2013.

"Craft In America / The History of Metal - 1." Craft In America / Welcome to Craft in America. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 June 2013.

"Handbook for the Appreciation of Japanese Traditional Crafts." Nihon Kogeikai. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 June 2013.

"How Sen No Rikyu Used the Japanese Tea Ceremony for Samurai Training." Black Belt Magazine: World’s Leading Magazine of Martial Arts –. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 June 2013.

"Metalwork : Western Metalwork." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 14 June 2013.

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