Following the Iron Brush

In a few days I’ll be attending a 6-day class, Introduction to Japanese Metalwork, with the esteemed Ford Hallam. I’ve posted up about him here on the blog a few years back. To bring you up to speed, these two video’s will show his approach to his craft:

This is an overview of the intro course, shamelessly pilfered from Ford’s forum Following the Iron Brush:

Introduction to Japanese Metalwork Class

On the introduction course we’ll be shaping and heat treating all the chisels and punches we’ll be using. We’ll also cover the basics of chisel use, carving, raised and wire inlay work and touch on patination. As with all my teaching we’ll be dealing with aspects of the aesthetics of the work and developing good working technique and skills also.
This is what we’ll cover in the 6 days, we’ll be cramming in a ridiculous amount of work but most people seem to up to the challenge.

1. Kebori chiselling exercise — feather 9 cm x 5 cm copper plate.
2. Kata-kiri chisel exercise based on ‘Ei’ kanji. Also simple bamboo ‘painting’
3. Introduction to inlay, silver heart shape in copper, raised inlay with basic carving and shaping. Also basic wire inlay.




4. Main inlay and carving exercise, ginko leaf in shibuichi on a copper disc 45mm diameter and slightly domed. Traditional Rokusho based patination.


I’m sure I’ll be in way over my head, but I’m interested to have this experience, to absorb what I can from a person who is by all accounts a fine and generous teacher. I have a longer term goal/hope of incorporating some of these techniques into the making of custom cabinet hardware – possibly even architectural hardware.

The intro course runs for 6 full days, after which I can return home for a couple of days. After that, back up to New Hampshire for Ford’s 3-day course in Nunome Zōgan, the art of inlaying silver into an iron background. Ford has a photo album featuring this technique- found here. Here’s an example of a finished piece:

Thanks for visiting the Carpentry Way. 

8 thoughts on “Following the Iron Brush

  1. Fantastic! Two of my favourite craftspeople coming together! Really looking forward to reading about this!

  2. These classes look fantastic, Chris. I'm in the thick of my own long-term project, but I look forward to putting a great class or two back into the mix, hopefully later in the year. It's well past time for me to put my time in on “Kanna and Nomi 101”, so perhaps I'll see what my options are there.


  3. Hey Chris, Looks like a great class. I remember this from when you first posted it. I haven't commented in a long time but I still look every day.

    Charlie Mastro

  4. Wow- I'm insanely jealous! I had no idea how Japanese crafted metal ornamentation like this- I always just assumed they were cast. The infinite care, patience and detail reflected in Ford's work is incredible. Props to you for taking the time to develop your skills in other areas of craftsmanship, Chris.

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