Clarence Wee Louis Kwok
This is a publication that invites the reader to walk on the soles of men and women who believe and practise their craft with their heart and souls. What is an artisan and what makes an artisan? The pages will reveal that they are just like you or me. Except for the passion and finesse that flows through when they create each product painstakingly by hand. In the days of mass produced, these artisans are steadfast in their convictions to their craft. Readers will not only learn about them but also experience their lives and how they see the world. Through intimate interviews, the artisansâ€™ closely guarded stories are uncovered for all to see. These stories are varied â€“ from wood makers who labour over every grain of wood, to ceramic craftsmen whose pots are meticulously coloured, to calligraphers whose every stroke reads immense dexterity. As varied as they are, these artisans have one binding connection, the love of their craft. The value of their craftsmanship comes to light as their inspirations and aspirations are featured in the articles. Knowing what makes these men and women lets us comprehend what goes into their products. And what defines them as not just craft workers but as artists. I sincerely hope that you will enjoy Makers Journal and gain a new awareness of the significance of artisanal goods and of their makers.
Table Of Contents
04 10 18 24
Love For Type Interview
Kumo Cycles Essay
Passion For Two Interview
King Of Clay
50 58 64
Art Of Silversmithing Essay
A Discovery Interview
Tinker With Tease Essay
Passion For Craft
Exploration In conversation with the founder of Parasolbags, a industrial designed trained turned bag maker which uses off-cut parasol fabrics to create bags.
Words: FJ Lim
Photography: FJ Lim
“The characteristic of the material is water resistant so it’s very suitable for making bags, and it comes in very attractive colours.”
Share with us a little of yourself. I’m a designer trained in industrial design and prototyping. My current work revolves around industrial craft, exploring small-batch and in-house production of creative commodities, Parasolbag being the first one. I’m also interested in exploring alternative production methods, and the use of existing processes to generate an unexpected results.
Learning from people who are more experienced partially my friends and the people that i have met at fairs. Most of time i have to figure things out by myself where information are attained from the internet or books. At which point of time did you decided to go fulltime and why did you do so?
How did Parasol bags came about?
It happened gradually and since i enjoyed every process of creating and more orders are coming in that is why i decided to go full-time.
It started in 2012, when I made my first few bags, I was curious to see the public’s response so I decided to sell them. Small quantity was then produced and it was sold out quickly.
In future, do you think there will be a possibility of new fabric being introduced to you line?
There are so many other materials out there, instead why parasol material being used? Parasolbag is about using the off-cuts from parasol factories, instead of discarding them. The characteristic of the material is water resistant so it’s very suitable for making bags, and it comes in very attractive colours.
Currently I have no plans for that at the moment, but I can’t say that will not happen. What the biggest challenge you encounter when you first started and how did you overcome it? I’ve been very fortunate; so far there have not been any major challenges. Any words of encourage for the readers out there?
The process of creating a bag, sewing and pattern making is a must, where did you attain the skills and the knowledge?
Cliché, but do what you enjoy.
Love For Type In conversation with Clarence Wee, a calligrapher who is enjoy what he is doing and being passionate about it.
Words: Brent Searle
Photography: Seo Hiroyuki
So to better understand typography, I felt I had to understand the most basic letter form from Penmanship and Calligraphy.
Can you briefly introduce yourself and tell us how you got into calligraphy?
Instead of having a regular job working in office, why did you choose to be a full-time calligrapher?
I have a background in Visual Communications Design. Which is where my interest in typography started. So to better understand typography, I felt I had to understand the most basic letter form from Penmanship and Calligraphy.
I think I just wanted my own way of working things out. Apart from calligraphy, what are mediums do you work on?
Are you self-taught or did you attend schools or workshops for it?
Apart from calligraphy, i do work on tools like brushes, engravers and soldering iron.
I was self-taught. But I travelled to America and Japan to meet other Calligraphers which is where we exchanged and learn from one and other.
Where did you picked up sign painting? San Francisco.
When you first started, did everything went as planned, if not how did you overcome it? Nothing went as plan as I didn’t have any plans. Not even plans to be a Calligrapher. It just grew into a career and I’m ever grateful for it.
In current context almost everything can be printed, but why sign painting? Because like Calligraphy, printing is fast and cheap. But it doesn’t have soul, especially you can see the brush strokes and the texture.
“Do onto others as you would have
So far which are the clients you have worked with and what is the most memorable project you have done? I have a list of them, to me, all the projects are memorable. They all hold their very own special and interesting trades which always keeps me on my toes. Can you tell us about the tattoo on you forearm says and what about it?
It says, “Do onto others as you would have others do unto you.” It’s a quote I believe in.
Lastly, do you have any words of encouragement for young creators or people that aspired to create? Do first, think later.
Kumo Cycles We take a look behind the japanese inspired brand Kumo Cycles with founder Keith Marshall
“Kumo Cycles was started by Keith Marshall initially because he found it quite difficult to get a bike to fit his rather large 6’4 frame.” Australia is fast becoming one of the world’s top cycling nations. We’ve got some of the best locations to ride, a cycling-mad population, a national World Tour team, and as of a few years ago, our very own Tour de France champion. When one thinks of bicycle manufacturers however, most people tend to go for the big-name trusted brands. Regardless of the origins of the bike (European, American, Canadian etc), most buyers tend to go for a trusted brand with worldwide recognition. This is great if you’re a first-time cyclist or someone that wants the newest, fastest, and lightest technology for your bike. If this sounds like you, by all means, go for a Cervelo or a Colnago; they make terrific bicycles, and almost no-one would dispute this. However, if you’ve ridden one of these (usually) carbon beasts, and decided that something wasn’t quite right (for instance, the geometry, the road feedback, or simply the carbon material itself), you might be inclined to opt for a more traditional and customised machine. Custom frame builders are not new in the world of cycling. Ever since bikes have been built, someone has been doing it by hand. The first name that come to mind for most cycling aficionados these days is Dario Pegoretti. This Italian master has been handcrafting and painting some of the world’s best bikes for decades. Legend has it that even the great Mario Cipollini road a re-branded Pegoretti for much of his career. Now, like with so many other facets of cycling, Australian frame-makers are coming to the fore. Established builders like Baum and Llewellyn Cycles are household names amongst cyclists Down Under, as well as around the world. More recently however, a
small one-man workshop based just out of Canberra is making some big noise in the custom bike world: Kumo Cycles. Kumo Cycles was started by Keith Marshall initially because he found it quite difficult to get a bike to fit his rather large 6’4″ frame. Being this tall narrows down off-the-shelf options quite considerably, and so Keith put his metalworking and engineering knowledge he gained at university to good use and started building himself a bike or two. Before long, people started taking notice, and wanted to put deposits in for their own bike. Now they’ve become popular enough that he does it full time and many of his customers still tend to be on the ‘taller side of the spectrum‘, as he puts it. I was lucky enough to meet Keith at the Australian Custom Bicycle Show early in 2013, and see some of his work first-hand. His work speaks for itself. The welds are beautiful, the lugwork is impeccable, and to top it all off, the frames are finished with some top-notch paintwork and components. Kumo is a Japanese word, meaning ‘cloud’. As well as being his (very cool) logo, Keith instills this as a philosophy into every bike he makes. Riding a Kumo should be like riding on a cloud. The design and construction principles draw heavily from Keith’s time in Japan, where his appreciation for local design culture grew stronger. Keith strongly believes that steel is the best medium to create a bicycle from. Whilst carbon has its place, there’s nothing like having a bike that’s built to your exact specifications, by hand. Quite literally, these bikes start out as tubes and bits of
metal and with a bit of magic and elbow grease from Keith, end up being beautiful works of art, as well as very highfunctioning machines. Keith has embraced social media very well, and often posts his newest builds part-by-part on his Facebook and Instagram accounts; something that keen followers are very grateful for. You’ll often see a part as a raw material, and then slowly see it come to life as Keith welds, machines and polishes it to perfection. The large majority of bikes that Keith builds are road bike frames, but Keith isn’t a one-trick pony. Since frames are made to order, pretty much any road-based style is possible. He makes track and Cyclocross bikes, but says that randonneur-style bikes are becoming more and more popular. People are starting to discover that you can do more than just race a bike. If you’ve ever seen a custom Kumo randonneur, you’ll want one too. The amount of care and attention to detail that goes into creating one is phenomenal. Even cables for dynamo lights are well tucked. Kumo cycles is a one-man operation, but this isn’t to say that Keith didn’t receive any help along the way. Established frame-builder Darrell (Llewellyn) McCulloch of the highlyregarded Llewellyn Cycles was a mentor and helping hand through the early stages of Kumo cycles, and Keith sings his praises often. If he could pick any frame builder to make him a bike, it would be Darrell. High praise from a very skilled builder in his own right. The workshop makes between 12-20 bikes a year, depending on demand and time taken to create one. Think about that time line for a moment. Keith spends weeks and weeks on a bike that is one-of-a-kind and fitted perfectly to the customers needs and desires. He hand-files parts to make them smoother, and if a part or tool he needs isn’t available, he just makes one. Despite how much you spend on a topof-the-line race bike with all the bells and whistles (which, ironically means no bell and no whistles of any kind), you are simply not going to get this kind of attention to detail that is so specific to your needs. There’s a reason that handmade bikes are on the rise, and it’s because cyclists all want that perfect bike that fits like a glove, and unless you’re extremely fortunate or extremely flexible, something off-theshelf is not going to give you that.
Passion For Two In conversation with Louis Kowk, a full-time photographer and a woodworker that have passion on what he does.
Words: FJ Lim
Photography: FJ Lim
â€œThe process of seeing a plank of wood transform into a beautiful piece of furniture or object using my own two hands.â€?
Can you briefly introduce yourself and share with us a little of your background? I have been a commercial photographer for the past thirteen years. Photography has been an outlet for my expression of my ideas, creativity and inspiration. I believe woodworking is another form of expression, in just a different material and different format. But the main creative process is quite similar. Did you attend proper woodworking training or self taught? In 2012, I went back to my secondary school to gain advice from my Design &Technology teacher who still is teaching in the school. He re-taught woodworking basics and gave me small projects to complete. We manage to complete small projects such as simple pencil cases and boxes, utilising traditional joinery and methods. In 2013 went to Japan to look for a Japanese teacher to teach me usage of Japanese woodworking tools, which are very different as compared to western. I then attended at six months long course at the Peter Sefton Furniture School in the United
Kingdom. This was were I was taught the full works of woodworking, from sharpening of tools, to handwork, to using and maintaining wood machines and batch production work. It was also here where I was trained under award winning designer, Sean Feeney. Which interest you most in the process? The process of seeing a plank of wood transform into a beautiful piece of furniture or object using my own two hands. Am i right to say that your direction in creating products is leaning more towards traditional production method? I believe that machines can help with the heavy duty part of sawing and planing raw timber; if not we will just be wasting much good labour in something that machines can otherwise do for us. It is ultimately the hand skills, finishing touches and the eye for detail that differentiates a bespoke hand crafted piece of furniture and one that is mass produced.
Your intention is to create things there are long lasting with natural materials, are you able elaborate on that? In this age of consumerism, we have been brought up to buy stuff and throw them away when it is broken, or when the trend is over. However, there are timeless master pieces that have been created in the past few centuries that have survived the wars, and are now celebrated for their design, workmanship and history. I strive to honour the material that I use. To make sure that they are well used and finished well, to be able to design a pieces which collect stories and can last for generations. You are active in social medias and forums, what do you gain from being sociable online? I have found that being on social media platforms such as Instagram and Tumblr allows me to meet people with the same interest. There is a community of sharing and encouragement; something which I otherwise may not find in my physical surrounding. I have made friends from across the globe, asked for advice and shared my thoughts with them. It is also through social media that I found out that we all have similar passions and that we are connected through other craftsmen and communities; which makes the world a much smaller and intimate place for me. Wood working is your second passion, how do you juggle between two passions? Photography is my first love and I continually take photographs for work and for pleasure. Woodworking is an ongoing passion which I have invested much time in honing my skills, and am
also continually working on improving myself. There is not juggling for both of them. They work hand in hand and are both methods of expressions for my creativity. People usually have a misconceptions between carpenter and woodworker, are you able to tell us the difference? Generally, in the woodworking world, there are the cabinet makers and the joiners. A cabinet maker or woodworker is one that spends more time in making bespoke furniture and pay more attention to detail and design. A Joiner or carpenter is one that makes door frames, kitchen counters and staircases. More often their skill set is about speed and efficiency. It is hard to compare the both as one can always be another, but at its own cost. For example, a cabinet maker can make door frames and staircases but he will take a lot of time and spend more on materials and finishing; a joiner can make a one-off designer table but may not have the fine finishing that a cabinet maker can produce. Do you have any exciting upcoming projects you are able to tell us about and perhaps share a little insight on? I am conducting a two day workshop on a veneered tray. This project though seem small, comprises of many woodworking aspects such as veneer cutting, laminating, mitre cutting, and polishing. I am also making a puzzle box for a client. There are a lot of mechanical and moving parts, so a special attention to precision is required.
King Of Clay Ceramicist Ryota Aoki isnâ€™t content to just be an amazing potter. He also has a personal mission to help improve the pottery industry and ensure a place in the canon for his own work
Words: Brent Searle
Photography: Seo Hiroyuki
“I had tried working at so many different types of part-time jobs to find something that most resonated with me, but I hadn’t had the “this is it” kind of feeling.” Pottery in Japan is as much a visual art as it is functional in purpose. And it’s ancient—century upon century of experimenting has been done with earthen materials to shape products of beauty, purpose and decoration. Dynasties rose and fell, and pottery was at the center of disputes on more than one occasion. From clay, porcelain and glazes come hot-fired tea-ware, rice bowls, jars, dishes, vases and ornamental creations. The eyes that envision and the hands that create these works of art are greatly honored in Japan. The culture is imbued with it. A new set of eyes and hands that are shaping the future of pottery belong to Ryota Aoki, who blends historic and modern in his pottery. His works range from delicate and gentle soft, white porcelain dishes and tea-ware to Manganese vases and even Gothiclooking crowns and skulls. We chatted with him about his creative process, organizations, events and influences.
“My ambition is to become Japan’s representative”
Tell us how you got started in pottery. What interested you in this type of work and art form?
piece of work, it left such a powerful impression on me. That’s when I decided I would be a potter.
When I was in college, I realized that a person’s day is divided into three parts, eight hours of work, eight hours of sleep, eight hours of doing what you love. It was then when I thought, Why not do what you love for your work? After realizing this, I started to look for a job that I love.
What’s amazing about pottery is that it can last for 3,000 years. Pottery dating back to B.C. still exists, even if it wasn’t baked properly. Because my ambition is to become Japan’s representative, I have a Japanese flag hanging in front of my potter’s wheel. It would make me so happy to know that if someone 1,000 or 2,000 years later were to inquire about past Japanese artists, Ryota Aoki would be mentioned. I would like to leave my work for that reason.
There are no direct family members who do what I do—none of my relatives either. I would be the first generation. It’s definitely true that skills and techniques from a potter are handed down in the house and are not shared. I first studied the basics, and then I moved on to researching the techniques and creating a glaze. Through this process, I’m confident that I can be the only one to create this kind of work and glaze as you can see in much of my work—like my wine glass.
Pottery is highly revered in Japan and often the skills and techniques are handed down in family traditions.
Who are some of the people or what are some time periods that influence your work? Are you attempting to re-
First, I started to make clothes and accessories. I had tried working at so many different types of part-time jobs to find something that most resonated with me, but I hadn’t had the “this is it” kind of feeling. But one day, I attended a pottery class. The moment I touched the soil for my first
Has pottery been in your family, or are you the first?
create the past in your work, energize the future, or both? The past: There is a traditional saying that has two meanings: One is to inherit (pass on) the “shape.” Another is to inherit (pass on) the “spirit.” The most prosperous time in Japanese pottery history was from 400 years ago, during the Momoyama period [1573–1615]. This period’s influence can be seen in today’s work—modern potters have appropriated the Shino chawan (Shino tea bowl) and Oribe chawan (Oribe tea bowl) from this era. Although I do think this is important, the idea reminds me of karaoke. It’s kind of like a singer who is trying really hard to re-create a song from the Beatles. Isn’t that just a cover band? It’s important to inherit the “spirit” of the past (instead of
the “shape”). This means to learn and inherit the spirit, the kind of mind-set potters had in the past. Potters from 400 years ago must have had a feeling that left them wanting to create something new for the world. That’s the kind of spirit I’d like to inherit and keep alive. An English potter named Lucie Rie has influenced me the most. I love her work, but I also respect her for committing herself to researching and producing a new type of glaze. I’ve been influenced by her spirit and would like to carry that on for myself. Koie Ryoji, Kitaoji Rosanjin and countless other Japanese potters have also influenced me. The future: By the time I was in my mid-20s, I was able to earn a living through my work. I was very
content and at peace with becoming a professional potter. Since then I decided that I wanted to give back and pay respect to the art of pottery. I strongly believe that I could give back to this art form by being active in the ceramics industry. Currently, I am working toward the goal of creating more opportunities so that the next generation of potters is able to earn a living through the craft. Every summer I am involved with an event called Ikeyan where many young potters and students gather around the theme of “how to make a living in ceramics.” This is not traditionally a topic that is spoken about in schools, and every year, about 150 to 200 people participate. Each participant brings two cups they have made themselves: one to use to introduce themselves to
the group—this is a great tool for people to connect based around their work—and another to use for critique and feedback. We gather 10 of the most relevant and famous gallery curators and ask them to choose the top 10 pieces to be eligible for a solo or group exhibition. My intention is to take part in creating the next generation of potters. I also want to address how potters can make a living all over the world. With this ambition, I recently announced a social network platform for ceramics called Potter. Your pottery spans an eclectic mix, from very elegant porcelain tableware to darker materials in vases and even what appears to be clay and metals in crowns and skulls.
What inspires your work, and how do you choose your materials? I want to create something that’s never been seen in the history of ceramics in Japan and worldwide. In order to achieve my goal, I produce and study up to 15,000 glazes a year. I make a decision based on the test piece. It’s all very intuitive, and I know when a certain glaze is it. This must be long and hot work at times being around a kiln. How many hours do you work each day? What do you like to do when you are free? Every day out of the year is like a holiday, because I don’t consider this to be work—I am doing what I love to do. My production time is from 9
a.m. to 9 p.m. I don’t use a kiln with fire; mine is an electric kiln, so what I do is press a button—it’s kind of like a big oven. I usually bake it for 16 hours. When I am not producing work, I travel around the world to look at pottery. I meet different potters from around the world. Last year I was travelling one-third of the year. This year I gathered potters from all over the world at my studio in Gifu, Japan, to bring back knowledge to their home countries. This spring I hired staff members from Indonesia and Chile. I made sure to have everyone get a one-year visa so that they can take their time to take in the techniques and knowledge.
Alternative Expression In conversation with Jacquline Goh, fonder ofFingersmith that incorporate letterpress into her illustration.
Words: FJ Lim
Photography: FJ Lim
“I’ve always been drawn to craft based work and letterpress printing is also a great way for me to reach out to a wider audience”
Tell us a little background about yourself? Prior to art school, I was in Ngee Ann Poly school of Business Studies as per my parents wishes. After graduating, it was clearer to me that I wanted to pursue my passion for the Arts. Thus, I enrolled in Image and Communications in LASALLE College of the Arts. How did Fingersmith started? It started off with a short video on letterpress printing that my lecturer showed us when I was in Lasalle College of the Arts. The idea of pursuing that craft probably continued brewing at the back of my mind. During the last year of school, I knew I didn’t want to work in a nine to five job but I had to find something. I talked to my partner a lot about starting a letterpress printing studio, it was all talk till she found a letterpress printing course in the suburbs of Australia and urged me to sign up for it. So I took the plunge and went for it. Why letterpress and where did you attain the skills? I’ve always been drawn to craft based work and letterpress printing is also a great way for me to reach out to a wider audience and showcase my art work.
I learn to operate on the Chandler and price and Adana in Australia in 2012. Learning to operate on the Heidelberg is an ongoing process. A family friend taught me the fundamental how it works but I had to read up on the user manual and watch videos. Where did you manage to get hold of the machines? Locally, from a family friend who knew someone who had a Heidelberg gathering dust in a corner of his print shop. It was in a very bad condition. As for the two Adana table top presses, I imported them from London. As a illustrator, why did you choose letterpress as a medium of expression? I’m drawn to the tactility of how the end product looks on paper. It has a lot of soul in it. Apart from letterpress, you do conduct drawing lessons for the kids. Tell us what did you discover from the kids that you have taught? Painting with kids taught me to never be too serious with whatever I do. Always have fun and enjoy the process and don’t be too worried about how the outcome will look like.
“When in doubt, do the right thing.”
When in doubt, do the right thing” can you tell us more about it? I painted that sign for our shop after I had to make a decision that questions my moral values. I could have abandon that project and lose a couple of hundred dollars or complete that project and lose a couple of thousand dollars. Eventually, I completed the product as I believe that gaining the client’s trust is more important. No amount of money will be able to buy the client’s trust back. Recently you worked on a big project, can you share with us what is it about? Singapore Tourism Board approached us to create personalised postcards for the ladies at WTA. We hand lettered 41 of their names and printed them on the back of our Things I ‘_’ in Singapore series postcards. Each player received nine postcards, three of each series. Do you have any exciting upcoming projects you are able to tell us about and perhaps share a little insight on? At the moment, we’re just looking forward to participating in the night market organised by the local people. We will be sharin a booth with a fellow letterpress printing studio, The Gentlemen’s Press.
Art Of Silversmithing A self-professed â€˜tinkererâ€™ from a young age Alison Jackson knew she had a love for metal and this is what encouraged her to pursue a career in silversmithing.
Words: Bhavani Konings
Photography: Natalie HunFalvay
“I’ve always been drawn to craft based work and letterpress printing is also a great way for me to reach out to a wider audience”
The process of silver smithing, raising an object from a flat sheet into a hollow form, has always intrigued Alison. As a child she would always find herself working on small projects and fixing things like old kettles, billycarts, tables and containers. This fascination with working with metal and making things in her Father’s workshop took on a life of its own. From age twelve, she took an after-school jewellery course, and she credits a wonderful teacher with inspiring her to make a career out of silversmithing from there on. Alison then pursued studies in gold and silver smithing at the Australian National University School of Art. Studying was a great chance to work with all the tools and machines she could ever need, and during her degree she learnt various techniques in silver smithing. Alison is drawn to silver because of its ‘wonderful and unique malleability and luminosity’. She enjoys the freedom of working with silver: ‘it amazes me what you can achieve with a sheet of metal and a hammer’. Alison incorporates traditional silver smithing techniques in most of the work she produces. She combines these age-old techniques with a contemporary design aesthetic (using non-traditional
materials, including other metals), producing pieces, which echo ‘simplicity, functionality and a playful quirky twist’. Functionality is key to her work and she makes a range of tableware pieces such as spoons, bowls and containers – every piece made is ‘designed to be used, to be held, explored and enjoyed’. Her design aesthetic draws upon themes of space and interaction. She is interested in the way people interact with objects, as well as how objects influence environments and become part of a living experience. She is particularly keen to design pieces that foster play. For example, ‘many of [her] pieces, when sitting on a static surface, tilter back and forth when touched, a playful quality that encourages user interaction.’ Alison’s studio is a tool lover’s dream. Starting Pocket Studio in 2008 with a friend from University, she was able to create a space to house her collection of tools and machines. As she exclaims, ‘I have a soft spot for old tools, so I am forever collecting more beautiful tools for the studio!’ The fully equipped jewellery and silver smithing studio allows her to run her own practice, teach short courses throughout the year and rent out space to other jewellers.
The silversmithing process of taking a flat sheet of metal and turning it into a beautiful piece of work involves many steps. Read along as Alison takes us through her handmade technique.
Marking Out Starting with a flat sheet of metal (in this case, copper), a circle is marked on the surface using dividers. Then the circle is cut out by hand using a piecing saw. Annealing As the metal sheet is often bought in a hard or half hard state, it is necessary to anneal the sheet to make it ready to work. Annealing is a process whereby the sheet is heated above a particular temperature (each metal might have different points) and then cooled. This restores some of the ductility to the metal, allowing it to be more easily worked and formed. As soon as the metal is worked in any way (bending, forming, hammering etc), it begins to harden and therefore needs to be annealed again to restore softness and make it workable. Annealing is a process that takes place many, many times when hammering out the shape of the object. If you were to continue hammering the sheet it would eventually crack, and so to avoid this the sheet is annealed after each step. Sinking Sinking is the first stage of raising an object. Using a sinking hammer (a heavy hammer with one or both ends rounded and smooth), the sheet is hammered in a methodical circular
pattern starting from the outside and working around towards the centre. The flat sheet of metal is hammered into a curved indentation, forming it into a small dish shape. Often a tree stump with various sized depressions carved into it is used. The tree stump provides a solid base to hammer into and absorbs much of the vibration from the hammer blows without marking the sheet. Raising (creating a curve) Raising occurs when the sheet is formed over a stake by repeated rounds of hammering. A raising hammer has a long rectangular shaped face. It is a very lengthy process, often taking days to complete one object. Stakes are specially shaped hammering surfaces used for various silversmithing tasks. Most commonly made from steel, they are very useful and versatile tools. The metal sheet is held over the stake at an angle and, using a raising hammer, the sheet is worked in a circular motion starting from the inside working towards the outside edge. This is called one raise, and after each raise the sheet needs to be annealed again. This process is repeated as many times as is needed to form the sheet into the desired shape. Depending on the complexity of the object it may take from 10 to 50 raises (or more!). The angle of the
sheet to the stake is very important in raising. If held incorrectly the sheet can be stretched thin and deformed. The idea with raising is that the sheet is formed without stretching any area too thin â€“ if you start with 1mm sheet, the thickness of your finished object will still be 1mm. Planishing Planishing is a metalwork technique that finishes the surface by shaping and smoothing. A planishing hammer has a round face that is slightly domed and highly polished. The shape of the stakes used for planishing need to be the same as the piece, so they have odd shapes to reach into all areas of the object. The object is placed over the stake, and hammered slowly, with each hammer mark overlapping the next. Planishing refines the shape, removes the raising marks and creates a smooth surface. Usually an object will only be annealed once after the first planish. From this point the object will be continually hammered to harden it, creating a durable surface. Planishing is also quite a lengthy process, depending on the complexity of the shape it can take many hours to complete. Pieces can be left with a planished finish (a finely hammered surface), or can be further finished by filing the surface smooth, sanding and polishing there after.
Alison’s love for metal work is inspiring. She shares her knowledge and skills and runs classes – both jewellery classes and more specialized silversmithing workshops where she teaches students to make bowls and spoons. As she says, ‘even if people only ever make one bowl, it is wonderful that they can see the huge amount of labour that goes into such a piece’. Indeed, in a time where traditional handmade techniques are replaced by machinery and mass production, we can appreciate and value the time it takes to create beauty.
5 Main Steps (and tools needed) 1. Marking Out – sheet metal, dividers, ruler and piercing saw 2. Annealing – torch and soldering pan 3. Sinking – Tree stump (good to use as it absorbs the hammer blows, vibrations) and sinking hammer 4. Raising – raising hammer and stakes 5. Planishing – planishing hammer and stakes
A Discovery In conversation with the people behind Knuckles & Notch.
Words: FJ Lim
Photography: FJ Lim
Risograph machine was used mostly in churches, schools and mosques back then. But now it’s a normality for art and design students in the United Kingdom and in the States.
Can you introduce your individual selves and briefly tell us about your background? Djohan is an illustrator and has worked in a gallery for a couple of years. Izdi is a graphic designer and illustrator. Marilyn (Yun Jin) is a photographer and a videographer and an occasional graphic designer. Tell us what you guys are doing. We are full time visual artists and creatives, multidisciplinary and are passionate about prints.
Risograph was used for business printing back then, what changes was made for todays usage? Risograph machine was used mostly in churches, schools and mosques back then. But now it’s a normality for art and design students in the United Kingdom and in the States. Nothing really changed about the machine other than the ability to print 2 colours at once. New colours are being introduced, hence, there are more varieties of risograph colours to choose from (Pantone, neon, metallic colours, etc…) What were the challenges when first started?
How did Knuckles and Notch started? It all began with a spark of an obsession. When Djohan discovered Risograph (Riso) at an NYC art book fair, the three of us were amazed by how vibrant the colours are compared to a product from a traditional ink jet machine. As soon as we realized how unique the outcome was, we were hooked. Why did you guys name yourselves as Knuckles and Notch? What we want to achieve is a great consistent quality of risograph prints … always a “Notch” above the rest. “Knuckles” is a fun gesture when two people (us and our collaborators) agree with each other – like a high-five.
Getting people to know about what risograph is and how it works and they to prepare their file before they send it for print, is always challenge. Lots of time is put into educating creatives and even none know about this print technique. But the real challenge is to sustain a business! Apart from providing printing services, what other things do you guys worked on? Shows, workshops and designing and illustrating. Djohan illustrates a lot and he’s always coming up with new ideas and art prints that he would sell. And we also promoting and selling artists’ artworks in risograph.
Who are the artists you have worked with and which project is the most memorable? Kristal Melson is definitely one of them, she’s really supportive about what we do and vice versa. Yanyun Chen, Gifriends (from New York), Sarah & Schooling. Our ‘Yum & Dangerous’ Zine show was also a success. We produced 14 zines with artists in 9 days, really ambitious and lot of hard work but it was worth it. Recently you guys had a booth in Tokyo Art book fair, possible to share some details about it and how was the respond?
It was overwhelming. Everyone we met there (EVERYONE) were just really interested at what we do. The kind of response we got there were really positive. And it inspires us even more to do great work. Any upcoming projects or collaboration that you can share with us and probably a little insight about it? We are one of the participants for the Singapore Art Book Fair. Workshops we are planning and a exhibition. That’s pretty much it, for now.
Tinkering With Treasure The combination of a love for metal, a dedication to precision and a passion for the handmade is what inspires Marina Antoniouâ€™s work and latest collection.
Words: Bhavani Konings
Photography: Natalie HunFalvay
“A love for history led Marina to look for inspiration to jewels found at archeological sites in Ancient Egypt and Greece”
Marina Antoniou, a Sydney-based jewellery designer and maker, shares her work and story with the Artisan Team. Marina’s love for jewellery making was sparked early in high school, but it would take a few more years before she would follow the path that seems to be her natural calling. A decision about the ‘right’ career led her to study Industrial Design at University but after a few years she realized that product design wasn’t for her and went on to enroll in a three-year Advanced Diploma in Jewellery and Object Design. After her diploma, Marina began to work for jewellery stores, mostly in retail with little time behind the bench. In addition to working, she continued her studies in Jewellery Manufacturing, a course that provided her with the essentials behind fine jewellery making techniques. The course, she says, not only provided her with knowledge but also gave her the confidence to go out and share her work. This confidence comes through in her carefully crafted and beautifully designed pieces. Marina’s favourite part of the process is ‘experimenting, mocking up, and playing with metal. I love the moment when I realise that the ideas floating around in my head will actually work!’ Marina often spends her days in a quiet, sunny studio making work for Courtesy of the Artist (COTA), a contemporary jewellery and art object store. When not working on pieces for COTA, her commissioned work keeps her busy crafting engagement and wedding rings. As Marina states, ‘It’s this kind of work that I
really enjoy – my clients are always after something unique and that is definitely something I can offer them. They appreciate the handmade, they appreciate good design, and they trust me. It’s such a pleasure being able to work with these kinds of people and create something so meaningful to them, for them.’ Jewellery making requires spending time at your work bench and for Marina that means soldering, saw piercing, hammering, filing and making settings for stones*. ‘I use traditional jewellery making techniques. I don’t have fancy tools and tend to source pre-owned tools. They have been made with love and care and that really translates into my work.’ Her love of metal makes for an easy decision when choosing materials to work with: ‘I love shaping metal, filing it away, heating it, accidentally melting it, and starting all over again. I like to have control from start to finish!’. Part of the process of making the pieces is conceptual and requires a great deal of researching ideas and techniques. In her latest body of work, she is focused on using new techniques such as granulation and stone setting. A love for history led Marina to look for inspiration to jewels found at archeological sites in Ancient Egypt and Greece, often featuring opulent and ornate designs that referenced elements of nature: items like ostrich shell beads, rich gemstones like turquoise, dazzling red and soft peach hues of naturally sourced coral, hand cut sapphires and tourmalines – all of which ‘have been used to embody the colours of
carnelian, red jasper and inlaid glass applied by early artisans’. The stones, along with ‘olive and fruit motifs found in the gold wreaths of this period’ are a recurring presence in this collection. According to Marina, this collection ‘transcends the ages and blurs the boundaries of traditional jewellery design. It not only presents a reflection of the past – the beginning – but more importantly showcases a reflection of the early development of my skills as a designer and maker.’ Marina collates various images of inspiration and so creates a type of moodboard for her work. This helps to remind her of what she is working towards. While she confesses she is not a drawer, she does sketch or ‘scribble’ an image of her plans. From this point,
there are weeks of experimenting and mocking up of all of her ideas. Marina creates her mock-ups in brass and scrap silver and usually the product changes considerably from start to finish. Essentially these mock-ups serve as 3D-like drawings used to figure out which designs work best. Once she knows a piece will work she begins its production. Taking anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days, Marina works on her pieces, carefully constructing something beautiful and lasting. Each piece in her collection provides a representation of a different time period but is also timeless and easily wearable. She is inspired by work that uses innovative materials, uses inventive techniques and can also’ slip onto a finger, into an ear lobe or hang around a neck with ease’. Precious and also practical – a perfect mix.
Passion For Craft In conversation with Adelene Koh, founder of dddots which provides bookbinding and book restoration services.
Words: FJ Lim
Photography: FJ Lim
She believes that passion might bring you to a starting point, but there after, it is all about perseverance, attitude, handwork and the constant need to improve.
Upon graduated with a Diploma in Mass Communication in 2001, Adelene was not exactly sure what she wanted. She picked up part time jobs like being a admin assistant in a landscaping company and also a reception at a yacht club. She felt she wanted to do something related to arts, to create and make a difference. Eventually she enrolled in a Diploma in Visual Communication in LASALLE SIA College for three years. Before graduating, she managed to get into an Advertising firm as an intern. Eventually she free-lanced for three years in the advertising field. Later, she realized that being a freelance designer was not getting anywhere, and then she went for an impromptu interview for a stewardess job and got in for three and a half years. While she was in LASALLE, a tutor taught the class simple bookbinding and she fell in love with it. she later went home and taught her sister how to bind a book and both of them started binding small notebooks for friends. In late 2011, she with her partner Louis went to an Art Book Fair in Brooklyn. At that point of time, she was not very sure what she wants to do in life and career, and it was the fair she realize that bookbinding was actually a proper professional job. While returning from that holiday, she then filled with ideas and started to blog and looking around for materials to bind a book. Reason behind the love of binding was because she always love books. Adelene enjoys reading and she has a rather strange emotional connection to her books. This is why after she visited
the book fair back in Brooklyn makes her realized that this is the craft she could plunge into. She started off by getting books about bookbinding and this is how she manage to discover two of the Japanese bookbinders that she acquire her skills from, whom are Yamazaki Yo and other is Nishio Aya. It was then through Nishio-senei she was introduced to Mark Cockram. She went to London for six months from September 2013 to march 2014 to receive training by Mark Cockram, and later this year for two months in July and August. The training she attended is comparable to someone were to take a master degree, however with bookbinding, there is no certification but a very good set of hand skills. She believes that passion might bring you to a starting point, but there after, it is all about perseverance, attitude, handwork and the constant need to improve. Not to forget that you live life only once. Do noy let yourself down and put yourself through a drag in life. If you have the passion to create or start something, make sure you also have the perseverance to carry on. Learning from her mistake, she realizes that do not wait for things to happen as it would not until you start doing it. Her personal beliefs are having lots of integrity and pride in her job. She would rather turn down a job that she knows she can fulfill it rather than taking it with sub standards. Lastly, she believes to exceed what her clients expect of her.
Keith Weiskamp Studio visit to Keith Weiskamp of Scottsdale.
Scottsdale artists Keith Weiskamp and his wife Cynthia Caldwell are in the flower business. Not in the traditional sense, mind you, but in a magical sense where they create blooms that are impervious to frost, immune to fading, and that will never, ever wilt. An expert glass blower, Weiskamp fashions these blossoms from molten glass in his home studio. His interest in unique coloration, patterns, and textures ensures that each flower is individual, though they all are made to house a single votive. Itâ€™s that little flicker of light from his creations that imbues a sense of life, a little flare of romance. With Valentineâ€™s Day fast approaching, what a lovely message to send your sweetheart: instead of roses that wilt and wither, an artisan-crafted bloom that will never die.