Reviews: Japanese Patinas

Bill Seeley
The Orchid List (online resource)

This is the latest book from Tim McCreight's Brynmorgen Press. Not for the faint of heart, this is a study of an ancient art. There are no instant recipes here. There are recipes, step by step processes, literally hundreds of years of experience released in 120 pages. It is a guide steeped in tradition and presented with the greatest respect.

This book is beautifully illustrated and punctuated with outstanding work from a broad variety of metalsmiths. From aesthetics to zinc a richness of thought prevails.

Art Jewelry Magazine
July 20

Eitoku Sugimori's introduction invites us to visualize the stages of a flower's life. He explains that the flower retains its beauty through each stage, but expresses it differently. For Sugimori, this can be described by the humble Japanese term, wabi-sabi. Though it can't be directly translated into English, a close relation for wabi is "quiet taste;" for sabi, "antique look" or "elegant simplicity." Wabi-sabi reflects the Japanese culture's belief that a heightened perception of the beauty of simple things can awaken the senses--an important aspect of artistry.

Japanese artists have been fusing these principles with art for centuries. Formerly an island nation subjected to little outside influence, artists from Japan diligently experimented with and innovated patina techniques. This book shares these traditional techniques and is a written testament to Sugimori's desire to keep Japanese customs alive.

"Patina" conjures up different images. I envision an item given character and beauty with age. The Japanese idea of patina focuses primarily around the belief that in "imperfection" lies beauty. Each piece should be discretely attractive because of its individual reaction between metal and patina--and it is the thoughtful preparation and application of that patina that must be considered when creating a piece.

Now, with a better understanding of Japanese principles in mind, what about practical application? The book delivers on this aspect, too. It offers chapters on supplies, chemicals, finishing materials, tools, and alloys. Each patina is complete with step-by-step instructions and photographs. Foundation, layered, and special patinas are explored, along with advice on protecting your finishes.

Appendices include patina recipes, alloy formulas, a glossary, an awesome patina sampler section complete with photos, and a pronunciation key for Japanese terms used throughout.

Impressively thorough, this book captures the spirituality that goes into an artform, with the practical application to achieve what the mind conceives.

Reader Comments

"Absolutely gorgeous. It's as wonderful to look at as a really beautiful cookbook: juicy recipes, an easy to follow format, elegant styling (but not overdone) and tempting, seductive photographs."

" ...filled with gorgeous photos and wonderful illustrations that highlight a clearly written text. Bravo to Mr Sugimori for providing us with such a wonderful introduction to the creation of the amazing patinas of Japanese metalworking."

"I love the format, design, cover, and binding--truly beautiful and a tribute to Japanese aesthetics."