The study of Niiro patination through surface science and studio application.

Lead Research Organisation: Sheffield Hallam University
Department Name: Faculty of Arts Computing Eng and Sci

Abstract

The applicant holds an AHRC Fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts. The research program is entitled 'The production and application of Japanese alloys and patination' and will run from May 2007- April 2010.

In this application we seek funding to support research into the application of the niiro patination technique which is used to patinate irogane alloys. This research was outlined in the original fellowship application and is central to the overall research program. Funding from AHRC will ensure that the research is carried out to the highest quality.

The Western tradition of metal patination and colouring is based on the use of a small range of metals and alloys which are coloured by the application of a wide range of patination solutions. In contrast to this, Japanese metalworkers developed a wide range of irogane alloys which are coloured with a single patination solution (the niiro eki or boiling colour solution). This approach allows different alloys to be combined in one piece and patinated, producing a multi-coloured piece of metalwork.

There are several barriers to consistent niiro patination. For example, the frequent 'patchiness' of the colour obtained results in time consuming re-polishing and re-patination. Variations in colour and colour consistency make the planning of a workpiece difficult. There is disagreement amongst Japanese craftspeople on the optimum composition and correct application of the niiro patination solution. In this study we aim to develop a reliable and easy-to-use patination process using standard ingredients available in the UK.

The research will ask:

1. How should the surface be prepared prior to patination to ensure even patination?

2. How can we optimize the ingredients and composition of the niiro solution to achieve good patination on the alloys prepared in our earlier study?

3. How should we apply the patination solution to the alloys?

4. What is the full range of colours that we can achieve with the niiro patination solution?

It is proposed to study the effects of niiro colouration on the alloys developed in the previous proposal, paying particular attention to the performance of alloys produced and finished by hand and by semi-commercial processes. Traditional niiro solutions and solutions made with laboratory or commercial grade chemical agents will be tested on both samples and studio work, and any differences between them will be characterised.

A limited number of researchers have published work on the chemistry of niiro patinated surfaces, on surface preparation, and on substitutes for some parts of the traditional recipes. However, a full understanding of the process and the variations that occur is still to be achieved.

The research will be located at Sheffield Hallam University using the facilities and expertise of the Art and Design Research Centre (ADRC) and the Materials and Engineering Research Institute (MERI). There is a strong team of highly experienced and internationally recognised Metalwork and Jewellery staff at ADRC to support the research. MERI has the background of precious metals research, and the extensive equipment and materials characterisation techniques essential to support this research.

Papers will be submitted to scientific, design and craft related journals and at least two conferences. The University website will be utilized for the publication of papers etc. Commercial collaborators will be sought through SHU to exploit any materials or processes that are developed.

This project is a fundamental part of the larger research programme as understanding and control of the niiro solution is crucial to the patination of the irogane alloys. The niiro solution will be tested under laboratory conditions and through studio work. A combination of laboratory based testing on small samples with practice based testing on larger workpieces in the studio will allow for a through study of niiro patination.

Publications

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A.H. Jones (2010) Reliable Irogane Alloys and Niiro Patination- Further Study of Production and Application to Jewelry in Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth Santa Fe Symposium in Albuquerque, New Mexico

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Coilin O'Dubhghaill (Author) (2010) Original research into Japanese alloys and patination in The Goldsmiths' Company Technical Bulletin

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Coilin O'Dubhghaill (Author) (2010) Metal Mosaics: Customizing designs with homemade shibuichi and shakudo in MJSA Journal

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Coilin O'Dubhghaill (Author) (2009) Japanese irogane alloys and patination - a study of production and application in Proceedings of the Twenty-Third Santa Fe Symposium in Albuquerque, New Mexico

 
Title 'Focus', Contemporary Applied Arts, London 
Description I showed a group of patinated vessels developed during the research program. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2010 
Impact The exhibition provided an important networking opportunity and lead to the sale of work to private collections and further exhibition invitations: domesticMATTERS at CAA in 2012 and Collect at Saatchi Gallery in 2014. 
 
Title 'Future Beauty', National Craft Gallery, Kilkenny, Ireland 
Description Exhibition of vessels produced as a result of the research program. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact European networking 
 
Title 9 Create, Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh 
Description This was a follow up exhibition to the Seven Smiths exhibition at Blackwell, I showed a group of patinated vessels developed during the research project. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2007 
Impact UK networking 
 
Title Beneath the skin, SIA Gallery, Sheffield and Galerie Marzee, Netherlands 
Description Beneath the Skin brings together eight academic researchers working within the field of contemporary metalwork and jewellery in order to reveal the research that underpins the object. The aim of the exhibition is to visualise and articulate the complex, multi-faceted and often non-linear creative journey that individual researchers make to get to the final object. It built upon and extended the enquiry started during the KeyPiece exhibition and research event in 2009 where the exhibited objects devoid of any textural explanation provided the basis for intensive critical discourse between participants in order to reveal the embedded knowledge. By presenting a range of tangible textual and non-textual material, Beneath the Skin aims to elicit and reveal the knowledge embodied by the object and proposed that there are intangible aspects within creative research that are not possible to quantify. Exhibition Venues and Dates: Galerie Marzee, Nijmegen, The Netherlands [7th October - 12th December 2012] SIA Gallery, Sheffield, UK [24th March - 20th April 2011] 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact This exhibition led to the purchase of work for the Marzee Collection, Netherlands in 2012 Article: Crafts Magazine, March/April 2011, page 22-23, " Material Research", article discusses Beneath the Skin exhibition. 
URL http://www.mariahanson.co.uk/beneath-the-skin/index.php/researchers/coilin-o-dubhghaill
 
Title Coilin O'Dubhghaill at Galerie Marzee, Netherlands 
Description Solo Exhibition at Galerie Marzee, Netherlands. This research tests the application of irogane alloy and newly developed synthetic niiro patination techniques through the production of a series of decorative vessels. By introducing Japanese alloys into the domain of the traditional silversmith, this work also challenges perceptions of fine crafted metal objects, disregarding hierarchies of value set up by precious metal commodity markets and the institution of the hallmark. Resulting from the application of material and process knowledge developed during earlier laboratory based testing these artefacts are an outcome from the practiced based study into Japanese metalworking techniques. (Irogane alloys and niiro patination).Small scale laboratory samples produced consistent results with the synthetic niiro solution but full exploration of the material and process properties and behaviours required extensive large scale craft workshop activity. Through this ongoing series of vessels, utilising hand forged hammer techniques and fabrication; creative possibilities have been explored by combining an extended range of irogane alloys beyond the standard palette usually encountered. The intrinsic material qualities and subtle variations of colours have been further exploited through surface enrichment and selective polishing resulting in surface finishes with new variegated colours. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact Work from this collection was purchased for the Marzee collection, Netherlands in 2012. 
 
Title Coilin O'Dubhghaill at Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh 
Description Solo exhibition of vessels produced as a result of the research program. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2008 
Impact UK networking 
 
Title Collect, Saatchi Gallery, London 
Description COLLECT: The International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects brings together the world's finest galleries representing exceptional work of museum-quality from their portfolio of artists. I have shown work developed during the research project at the Collect exhibition in 2010/11/12/13/14, with Galerie Marzee, CAA, and National Craft Gallery Ireland. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2010 
Impact Exhibiting at Collect had led to international exhibition invitations, e.g. 'Dubh', AIHS, New York and Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin; media coverage e.g. Financial Times, and the sale of work to international private collections. In 2012 a piece from the exhibition was purchased for the Crafts Council of Ireland / Department of Foreign Affairs collection Article: Financial Time Magazine, "Touching Base" 20/10/2010 
URL http://www.craftscouncil.org.uk/what-we-do/collect/
 
Title FIVE into FOUR, Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin, 20 June - 26 July 2013 
Description Exhibition with vessels produced as a result of the research program. From Richard Rabel's blog discussing the Five into Four exhibition: C?il?n ? Dubhghaill is one of the brilliant young designers keeping alive the age-old tradition of silversmithing. There are too few artists like him, so we must show our support for ? Dubhghaill! His works have a noticeably Eastern influence and that is no coincidence - he studied in Japan and received a doctorate for research into traditional Japanese metalwork techniques (the Japanese have a marvelous history of incorporating different metals into stunning pieces). One of my favorite pieces in this show is his "Ritual 9". Taking a cue from traditional Japanese koros, this vessel has the most beautiful speckled finish. The paper-thin silver is also an amazing contrast to what appears to be a very weighty object. Another of his works in the show is this elegant bowl "Ceo 7". Fashioned from a copper and gold alloy, I first took this for pottery until I looked closer. An "? Dubhghaill" piece for sure, I thought, this time working outside of silver to create this earthy, yet sophisticated piece. While we mere mortals would think working with copper or silver is the same, the talent in bringing these two different pieces to such a high level of perfection and beauty is actually quite a feat! 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact Work from this exhibition was purchased for the Irish State Art Collection. Article: The Sunday Times 07/07/13, "Five into Four" Article: Irish Examiner 09/07/13, "Craft show not by the numbers" 
 
Title Frame at Schmuck, Internationale Handwerks Messe, Munich, 2013 
Description Exhibition of vessels produced as a result of the research program. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact European networking 
 
Title Keypiece Exhibition, Sheffield 
Description KeyPiece was a combined public exhibition and research event bringing together leading UK metalworking practitioners and their work in November 2009. The project was initiated by Coilin O'Dubhghaill and developed in collaboration with Maria Hanson and Christoph Zellweger. The project was described in detail in the publication: HANSON, Maria and WOOD, Nicola (2010). KeyPiece: Creating a critical dialogue in contemporary craft; Design and craft: A history of convergences and divergences: 7th Conference of Design History and Design Studies (ICDHS), Brussels, Belgium, 20-22 September 2010. The exhibited pieces provided the basis for discussion between the makers, along with other pieces brought along by the makers that were considered significant but not necessarily suitable for exhibition. The question of how a keypiece can be identified and defined led the makers to develop an understanding of the different roles objects they make play within their practice. The participants were: Lionel Dean, Coilin O'Dubhghaill, Sara O'Hana, Maria Hanson, Grace Horn, Antje Illner, Drummond Masterson, Tine de Ruysser, Lucian Taylor and Christoph Zellweger. This project was supported by funding from Arts Council England/National Lottery and the Art and Design Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2009 
Impact The Keypiece project developed dialogue looking at the relationship between objects and research within the metalwork research community which lead to the Beneath The Skin project and exhibitions, see: http://www.mariahanson.co.uk/beneath-the-skin/ 
 
Title KunstRAI, Amsterdam (2012) 
Description Exhibition of vessels produced as a result of the research program. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact European networking 
 
Title Object Rotterdam, Netherlands 
Description The fair is a platform for the latest limited editions and one-offs from well-known and upcoming designers working in different design disciplines and various materials. OBJECT is the place where the cutting edge between design, crafts, fashion, architecture and art becomes evident and a must see for collectors, professionals and other design minded people. I showed a collection of patinated vessels produced during the research project at Object. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2009 
Impact European networking 
URL http://objectrotterdam.com/
 
Title PAN, Amsterdam (2011) 
Description Exhibition of vessels produced as a result of the research program. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact European networking 
 
Title Seven Smiths, Blackwell, Bowness-on-Windermere 
Description Seven Smiths: new work in metal and silver 13 November - 31 December 2007 Seven Smiths brings together the new work of seven of the UK's leading silversmiths. Each has exhibited widely both in the UK and internationally, and between them their work is represented in most of the major public collections. Blackwell, filled with exquisite handwork in wood, stone and plaster, provides the peculiarly fitting backdrop for these new examples of an age-old craft. Some of the pieces made for Seven Smiths have evolved as a direct response to the Arts and Crafts Movement, the house and its spectacular setting. Silversmith/designer Coilin O'Dubhghaill studied for a doctorate in Tokyo, where he mastered a range of techniques using coloured metal inlays, or irogane, which he now uses in combination to create vessel forms with an emphasis on surface pattern and colour. He is currently a research fellow at Sheffield Hallam University, researching the production and application of Japanese alloys, such as the copper/gold shakudo alloy, and their patination. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2007 
Impact UK networking 
URL http://www.blackwell.org.uk/exhibitions/seven-smiths-new-work-metal-and-silver
 
Title Shortlisted for National Metalwork Design Award 2008 
Description The award was a national biennial event, sponsored by Yorkshire South Tourism, in partnership with Yorkshire Forward and South Yorkshire Objective 1. Organisers looked to reward the best examples of bold, brave and innovative metalwork design. The prize also emphasised the important role production and design of metal has played in both Sheffield Museums' and the city's past. Included in the shortlist, which was chosen by a judging panel including the Duke of Devonshire and Corin Mellor of cutlery firm David Mellor Design, are well known artists in their field alongside emerging artists from across the UK. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2008 
Impact The exhibition provided an early means to promote and network for the research project. 
 
Title Silverstruck, Ruthin Craft Centre and National Museum of Wales 
Description The Silverstruck exhibition celebrates the current strength of contemporary silversmithing in the UK, reflecting new directions realised by traditional and cutting-edge techniques. I showed two pieces of patinated metalwork produced during the research program. The exhibition opened at Ruthin Craft Centre, The Centre for the Applied Arts from 12 February until 27 March 2011 and then moved to the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff 12 April until 24 July 2011. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact Two pieces from the exhibition were purchased for the The Goldsmiths' Company, Modern Collection, London. This is notable as the Goldsmiths' Company usually only purchases hallmarked precious metalwork. 
URL http://www.ruthincraftcentre.org.uk/exhibitions/silverstruck/
 
Title Sterling Irish, National Craft Gallery, Ireland 
Description This was an exhibition of Irish craftspeople based in the UK. I showed a collection of patinated vessels developed during the research program. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2009 
Impact A piece of work was purchased for the Crafts Council of Ireland / Department of Foreign Affairs collection. 
 
Description The effect of traditional polishing materials on the surface texture of copper including magnolia charcoal, paulownia charcoal, pumice, tonoko (clay), and tsunoko (calcined deer antler) has been studied with optical microscopy and measured in terms of surface roughness (Sa) using an Infinite Focus Microscope. These were compared with results for standard polishing materials aluminium oxide and silicon carbide. A system for polishing and cleaning test pieces has been developed based on this work.

Traditional ingredients used in the niiro patination process have been studied including daikon radish, rokusho verdegris and plum vinegar.

The application of grated daikon radish to the alloys before patination has been studied. A reduction in the formation of silver chlorides on fine silver and shibuichi has been identified as the main positive benefit in the use of daikon. A number of possible active ingredients in the daikon radish have been identified, further testing will be needed in this area.

Rokusho has been tested and found to contain copper acetate, sodium chloride and calcium carbonate. The presence of salt and calcium carbonate has not been reported extensively in the previous literature on the subject. Lead, tin and zinc are also present in rokusho at significant levels, the presence of which could be a barrier to the use of niiro in the West. The development of a 'safe' solution is desirable.

The effect of plum vinegar on niiro has been studied, and the resultant formation of chlorides on fine silver and shibuichi has been identified. Although the plum vinegar can 'improve' the colour of niiro patinated copper (bright red/brown rather than dull brown), the formation of chlorides on silver and shibuichi (yellow/brown colour rather than white or grey colour) is not a desirable result. Active ingredients in plum vinegar such as citric acid, malic acid, and sodium chloride have been identified and testing is underway to characterize the effect of these ingredients individually.

Traditional niiro solutions and solutions made with commercial grade chemical agents were tested on sample alloys and the differences between them were characterised. A systematic method of recording and quantifying the colours produced by niiro patination has been developed and a database of alloys, niiro compositions, conditions of immersion and colours has been produced and will be used in further work and in comparison with other research.

Through this research we have characterized the various pre-patination polishing techniques, clarified the composition of traditional solution ingredients, developed and tested a solution made from commercial grade chemicals, and described the influence of solution ingredients on patination colour. Overall the research has greatly improved our understanding of the niiro patination process and clarified the areas that will require further exploration.
Sectors Creative Economy,Manufacturing/ including Industrial Biotechology,Culture/ Heritage/ Museums and Collections

 
Description Arts Council England Grants for the Arts
Amount £5,500 (GBP)
Organisation Arts Council England 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2009 
End 11/2009
 
Description Sasakawa Foundation award
Amount £2,500 (GBP)
Organisation The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2007 
End 12/2007
 
Description Keypiece research event and exhibition, Sheffield Hallam University. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact KeyPiece was a combined public exhibition and research event bringing together leading UK metalworking practitioners and their work in November 2009. The project was initiated by Coilin O'Dubhghaill and developed in collaboration with Maria Hanson and Christoph Zellweger. The project was described in detail in the publication: HANSON, Maria and WOOD, Nicola (2010). KeyPiece: Creating a critical dialogue in contemporary craft; Design and craft: A history of convergences and divergences: 7th Conference of Design History and Design Studies (ICDHS), Brussels, Belgium, 20-22 September 2010.

The exhibited pieces provided the basis for discussion between the makers, along with other pieces brought along by the makers that were considered significant but not necessarily suitable for exhibition. The question of how a keypiece can be identified and defined led the makers to develop an understanding of the different roles objects they make play within their practice.

The participants were: Lionel Dean, Coilin O'Dubhghaill, Sara O'Hana, Maria Hanson, Grace Horn, Antje Illner, Drummond Masterson, Tine de Ruysser, Lucian Taylor and Christoph Zellweger.

This project was supported by funding from Arts Council England/National Lottery and the Art and Design Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University.


The Keypiece project developed dialogue looking at the relationship between objects and research within the metalwork research community which lead to the Beneath The Skin project and exhibitions, see: http://www.mariahanson.co.uk/beneath-the-skin/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Lecture delivered in Metalsmithing department, Tokyo National University of Fine Art and Music, Japan 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact The presentation provoked discussion about research into craft processes and the contrasting approaches used in the European and Japanese traditions.

The lectures in Japan led to collaborative research with Japanese patination experts which contributed to ongoing research and studio practice
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Lecture delivered in Metalwork Program, Craft Department, Tama Art University, Japan. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact The presentation provoked discussion about research into craft processes and the contrasting approaches used in the European and Japanese traditions

The lectures in Japan led to collaborative research with Japanese patination experts which contributed to ongoing research and studio practice
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Lecture delivered to Association for Contemporary Jewellery, Crossing conference 2010, UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The presentation provoked discussion about research into craft processes and the contrasting approaches used in the European and Japanese traditions.

The lecture led to an invitation to present to the Colour Group GB and some ongoing collaboration with other UK craftspeople
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Lecture delivered to Jewellery and Metalwork Department, National College of Art and Design, Dublin, Ireland 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact The lecture led to a discussion of Japanese metalwork processes and techniques



The lecture led to correspondence and advice to students at NCAD relating to their use of patination processes in their work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Lecture: Art, Chemistry and Colour in Metalwork, Museums Sheffield / 100 years of Stainless Steel Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The presentation led to discussion, correspondence and ongoing collaboration with local metalworkers and designers. The presentation led to an interview and article in the Magazine of Sheffield Festival of Science and Engineering 2013.

The presentation led to discussion, correspondence and ongoing collaboration with local metalworkers and designers. This has led to the production of work for exhibition internationally and to the production of prototypes for jewellery retail manufacture.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.museums-sheffield.org.uk/whats-on/events/2013/3/art-chemistry-and-colour-in-metalwork
 
Description Lecture: Irogane, a search for reliability between craft and science, delivered to The Colour Group (GB) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact The presentation led to a very useful discussion on methods for colour analysis on metalwork and the contrast between European and Japanese metalwork traditions

The presentation led to an invite to present to The Society of Jewellery Historians and ongoing collaboration with museum researchers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.colour.org.uk/meetingFebruary12.html
 
Description Speaker, "Understanding Interdisciplinarity: Theory and Practice" conference, Sheffield Hallam University, UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact The presentation, Radishes or isothiocyanates? A search for control between art and science, led to to useful discussion about the challenges of research collaborations between artists and scientists

The presentation led to an invite to deliver a Keynote presentation at, Driving Forces: the role of artists and designers in interdisciplinary research conference, Australian National University, School of Art, Canberra, Australia in 2014
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://research.shu.ac.uk/engineering-for-life/Conference.html