Japanese Metalwork Technique by Ford Hallam

Book one of a series of books intended to provide a comprehensive resource for metalworkers interested in the Japanese Tradition

What I want to do with this Kickstarter campaign support is produce the first volume of a series of 7 books that will present for the first time in any language, even Japanese, a comprehensive introduction to Japanese decorative metalwork techniques, materials and processes.  This will be the seminal work on the subject and one that I hope will be of use to craftspeople, collectors, academics and curators.

I’ve decided to start with the last volume of the series because I think it may have the broadest appeal and use to the most craftspeople.  Volume 7 – Metals and Alloys – Their finishing, preparation and colouring. The book will be about 100 pages, roughly    9″ x 6″ and contain around 20 colour plates.

I’m hoping that should this initial volume gain the support and interest I need to make it a reality it will act as a catalyst and help support the production of the following volumes. Basically, I need to get one volume up and running to give me the time to produce the rest of the series.

We’ve decided not to use online publishers but rather to contract printers directly. This will give us more control of quality and layout and ultimately deliver a finer book. I have the support of a professional book designer, Leon Mommersteeg, to deal with the appearance, layout and printing of the books.

A major part of the project will be the additional supporting HD films that will demonstrate everything covered in the text. We’ll be filming most of that material from 2 angles simultaneously and I’ll provide audio commentary too. Part of the funding will allow me to buy a better camera and suitable lens. Processing all this HD film and actually creating the books will also mean I’ll need to upgrade my clockwork pc to something a bit more professional. If you seen our film, Utsushi, you’ll have an idea of what we’re wanting to deliver in terms of visuals. Of course these instructional films will be far more technical and specific to what we’re demonstrating. They’ll be viewable on a password protected online site while this entire series is being created, and then I plan to produce a single DVD containing all of the film footage. These will be offered for sale along with the complete set of books but for those of you who’ve supported this project we’ll send you a copy at cost price as a big thank you.

I intend to approach this project in the same way I would teach a student in my own studio. I want to bring you into my world and gradually build up your understand and awareness of everything this remarkable tradition has to offer. As much as possible I want to share with you everything I’ve learned and everything I use in the creation of my own work. I won’t assume any previous knowledge of any aspect of the material I’ll be presenting and will do my best to be as thorough as humanly possible.

To help me achieve this clarity I have the support of a number of friends and students who will be acting as my proofreaders, critics and advisers as I create the text and films.

This is the full series of books I’m planning, starting with Volume 7 as I mentioned earlier. Any over subscription beyond the initial target figure will go towards getting the next volume in production.

An Introduction to Classical Japanese Metalwork Technique

Volume 1 – The Fundamentals of correct and skilful hand tool use.

Volume 2 – Basic tool making and chisel use.

Volume 3 – Inlay work

Volume 4 – Nunome Zogan – Japanese Style Damascening.

Volume 5 –  Uchidashi – Japanese style chasing and Repoussé.

Volume 6 – Carving, texturing and specialised tool making and use.

Volume 7 – Metals and Alloys – Their finishing, preparation and colouring.

Risks and challenges

I think the most challenging aspect of this project will be achieving the very precise film footage I want. I really want to create a view of the processes that are better than what you’d see if you were actually by my side in my studio. I think, with the sort of digital technology we have available now, we can deliver this. And if you know me or have followed my work you’ll know I won’t stop until I’m satisfied.

As far as any potential production hiccups go I feel quite confident that with the enormous amount of support and enthusiasm so many of my supporters have already shown and the many offers of practical help I’ve received we’ll handle them in our stride. In many ways I’ve been producing material like this for sometime now, this is the logical next step, and about time too. 🙂

Obviously, the logistics of organising packaging and shipping will be quite a large undertaking but this area will be well managed by my wife, Jo, who brings 12 years of Royal Air Force expertise in logistics and supply to the task.


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