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The production and application of Japanese alloys and patination

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The production and application of Japanese alloys and patination

Date: 2009

Two bowls made using Japanese alloying and patination. The bowl on the left is larger with a black and rust colouring and the smaller one on the right is sliver and pewter colour

This project explores new ways of working with traditional Japanese alloys and patination through material science analysis and the production of studio work. Japanese metalworkers use a wide range of copper and precious metal alloys which are coloured with a single patination solution, an ancient technique developed for the production of multi-coloured metalwork. Our research aimed to improve our ability to control these materials and processes and to develop new ways of working with them for the production of studio work.

Supported by the Metalwork and Jewellery program and the Materials and Engineering Research Institute at SHU, the research builds on traditional craft techniques while using material science analysis to improve our understanding of the metallurgical processes at work.

Dissemination activities included exhibitions of studio work in the UK, Ireland, Netherlands and USA, and lectures at NCAD Dublin, Tokyo Geidai, and Tama Art University, Japan. Studio work was purchased for collections including The Goldsmiths’ Collection, London, and the Crafts Council of Ireland.

We have also been building on this research with the museum and restoration/conservation community. Using the samples and process knowledge developed during the project we have contributed to research on the work of Alfred Gilbert in the collection of the V&A Museum, London. Recently we have also aided in restoration work on the Mayor of Preston’s chain produced by Gilbert in the 1890s, and also on a mokume gane vessel produced by Tiffany & Co of New York in the 1870/80s.

The research was funded through a fellowship and grants from the Art and Humanities Research Council, the Sasakawa Foundation, and Arts Council England.

The composition of different alloys under a microscope from the The production and application of Japanese alloys project
Graph from the The production and application of Japanese alloys project
A piece of Japanese alloy and patination. It has a flat base with 4 rust-coloured rounded points
A bowl produced using Japanese alloying and patination
A bowl made using Japanese alloying and patination. It is a sliver and pewter colour.
Part one of the Japanese alloying process. The metal is being heated up over hot coals
Part two of the alloying process. Pour in the metal mix into shape
Japanese alloys under a microscope

Funding partners


ADMRC logo. The letters A, D, M, R and C in a circle.

Key information

Explore the people, research centres and partner organisations behind this project.

Get in touch

Contact the ADMRC to discuss facilities, partnerships, doctoral research and more

Email ADMRC

Research team

Coilin O'Dubhghaill

Dr Cóilín O'Dubhghaill

Senior Research Fellow

Cóilín O'Dubhghaill's profile

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