Tsuiki copperware is created by hammering and shaping a single sheet of copper into a finished item, and a great variety of tools are required for this process: in all, Gyokusendo still uses around 300 iron shaping rods and approximately 200 kinds of hammers. Each blow of the craftsman’s hammer compresses the copper sheet and gradually shapes it into the object desired, with many years of experience being required to master this difficult skill. As it is hammered, the copper becomes harder, and it is therefore necessary to soften it again at regular intervals in the furnace, in order to maintain its workability. This hammering and heating can be repeated as many as 20 times during the creation of a simple kettle.

After its shaping is complete, the product acquires its final hue using traditional coloring methods handed down through several generations, often involving the use of natural Japanese privet wax to create contrasting colors and textures. Finally, tin is usually also plated onto the interior of the item, for ease of daily use. The beauty of the finished Gyokusendo copperware item then stands in quiet testimony to the craftsman’s mastery of the various skills required for its creation.

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Hammers

金鎚
Some hammers are shared between artisans, but most of them are for individual use.
After many years of training, artisans find some hammers more precise because of their shape, handle length or width,


Toriguchi

鳥口(とりぐち)
It’s an iron bar to which copperware is held. The name “Toriguchi”; bird’s mouth in English, was named by Gyokusendo in the Meiji era.
All are hand-maid and have different uses based on their shape.


Raising (the edge of a copper sheet)

打ち起こし
Rising is raising a copper sheet which is cut in the size of a vessel with a wooden mallet.
After making large wrinkles on the edge of the sheet, it’s ready for reducing its diameter of the raised part with a hammer.


Annealing

焼き鈍し(やきなまし)
Since copper gets hard as it is hammered, it’s soaked in water after heating in the furnace. “Strike while the iron is hot.” may be a common phrase, but when it comes to copper, it still keeps its softness even after cooling.


Reducing (the diameter of the raised part)

打ち絞り
Reducing the diameter of the raised part of a workpiece is accomplished by using various Toriguchi or hammering techniques which do not widen the copper but shrink it into form.


Engraving

彫金
Using chisel steels, Vases or Decorative dishes are engraved, carved in relief or inlayed with gold and silver.


Shape forming

成形
The textured surface due to reducing is evened out.
Then the beautiful curve lines are made by using a small glazing hammer.


Coloring

着色
The copperware is dipped in a solution which Gyokusendo developed over the years.
It is completed in an outstanding color by using Gyokusendo unique method.