Tsubame Beaten Copperware

Niigata

Beaten copper work really began in the Tsubame area during the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868) when specialists from Sendai in present-day Miyagi prefecture come to the area and passed on their skills. Kettles were some of the first articles made using copper from a locally mined source.
During the latter part of the 19th century there was an active exchange of ideas and techniques with other areas and Tsubame Tsuiki Doki became established as an art craft to include the use of chasing. Subsequently this led to the development of a metal processing and treatment industry centered on the city of Tsubame.

Beaten copperware is best exemplified by the ability of a skilled craftsman to turn a single sheet of copper into a three-dimensional object simply by beating it with a hammer. The most highly skilled part of this work being the integral forming of a spout from the same single sheet when making a kettle. Water jugs, teapots, tea caddies and coasters are some of the other items now made alongside many other household articles including cooking pans, kettles, jugs, sake flasks and cup as well as a range of stationary items.

Feature

The word “Tsuiki” in Tsubame tuiki doki means to hammer a shape out of copper. From a single flat sheet of copper, through repeated hammering, the final three dimensional shape is achieved. Even items with a spout, such as tea-kettles, are hammered from the same sheet of copper, revealing the depth and mastery of the craft.

How to make

The copper sheet is first laid over an iron planishing stake, and copper is gradually shaped into a cylinder and then its final form by hammering it at different angles against the stake. As the hammering process hardens the copper, it is repeatedly heated in fire to ensure the copper stays soft for molding. These steps are repeated continuously until the final shape is achieved. The copper is then engraved with decorations, given hammered patterns, and finally boiled in a solution of copper verdigris and copper sulfate to give the copperware its unique color.

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