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Colorado Metalsmiths Conference

Jim Kelso

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I'll be giving a presentation at the Colorado Metalsmiths conference in Salida, CO, July 11, 12, 13. More info HERE


Other presenters include, Michael Boyd, Tom Herman, David Huang and Carol Webb.


The title of my slide talk is:


The Flowering Chisel: An Homage to the Ecstatic Naturalism of Japanese Traditional Metal Arts.


This talk will primarily be an appreciation of the superb metal artists of the late Edo and early Meiji periods who were imbued with a love for nature which naturally spilled forth in their work. I'll have lots of slides of artists work such as Kano Natsuo, Unno Shomin and Shoami Katsuyoshi. These works include sword fittings, boxes, vases and other sculptural works.


During the slide lecture I'll also include a tech sequence on some aspect of my own technique.(to be announced)


I'll also give a workshop demo of the Japanese irotsuke process, the traditional technique used to patinate copper, shibuichi, shakudo and the other copper-alloys as described in my tutorial HERE


Here is a carved metal hanging basket with details as a bird nest with two baby birds. Shoami Katsuyoshi

Photo courtesy Okayama Prefectural Museum and Daruma magazine


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Sure Doug, thanks.


I'm not big on "isms" in general, but it's the best I could come up with for the concept that immersion in nature is largely what humans are about, contrary to, or ecstatic from(in the transcendent sense), the mundane workaday, techno world that most of us dwell in. We have the capacity and indeed, I feel, the necessity to resonate either with nature directly or through works of art, writing or the contact with others who are so immersed in nature that we feel transported.


It's my feeling that the artists I will present in my lecture were all "ecstatic naturalists" or they could not have produced such sensitive, nuanced work. Oriental work in general is much more focused(at least up till the 20th century) on nature.

There are of course the western counterparts such as Van Gogh, Turner, Ansel Adams, Thoreau, Emerson, Goethe and many others.


Concerning the Shoami Katsuyoshi work above, it is said by Usui Yosuke that, "The world of small lives is developed on a stage, the nest. Newborn chicks are all curious about the spider. Shoami captures the meeting of their lives. The fur on the spider's legs is extraordinary. It shows he is a real observer. It is said that when he carved animals, he never failed to rear and observe them thoroughly. The same can be said of plants." from Daruma Magazine(#58)



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Thanks Doug. Stephen Harrod Buhner uses the term biophilia. My Latin is not what it should be but that seems like it must translate to love for lifeforms, or perhaps more broadly "nature".


BTW, I highly recommend his books, especially The Lost Language of Plants and The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct perception of Nature. These were eye-opening books for me in charting a path back to our true connection with nature.

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  • 2 weeks later...
You can see a few more images of work I'll cover in my talk HERE



What exquisite pieces. While all cultures have their masters I don't believe any peoples can so excite and humble one as the craftsmen and women of Japan. You have chosen a noble banner to practice under.


Planning to see you in Salida, been meaning to get over there since its inception, always something though. Be good to see Tom also only run into him rarely since he and his family moved out of New Mexico years ago. He and Michael are both wonderful in their combination of lapidary and metal. Not so familiar with David Huang or Carol Webb but sure they were chosen to compliment the group and so should be a joy.


Until then.



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Well there's raw and then there's raw. :blush:


I think it's safe to say that most of the information presented in the main conference will be of a general sort of focus on the approaches of each of the presenters, that anyone with medium to advanced skills/interest in small scale work could appreciate. There are separate workshops(some during the conference and some just before or after) where some of the presenters will give more specific information and technique.


The work I'm most familiar with is Tom Herman's very fine and beautiful engraving. He's been formally trained, but is also innovative and has a great sense of humor.


I've only seen David Huang's work on the web, but it looks like he uses interesting stakes for raising that he's developed and his work is very beautiful.


I think it would be a great opportunity to soak up some experience from people who have mastered the basics and gone beyond to develop their unique technique and expression. This could be valuable, in my opinion, to anyone with enthusiasm for learning the skills they are showing.

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