The fine metalwork of Japan has rarely been equaled.
One of the things that makes Japanese metalwork so unique is the rich color pallet that is achieved by the use of patinas (a chemical process that alters the surface of the metal leaving a colored compound adhered to the metal). The rich history of Japanese patinas is the result of hundreds of years of experimentation, innovation and tradition.
Though the history of metalworking is relatively young in Japan, craftsmen there developed alloys and the art of patination further than any other metalworking culture in the world.
The Japanese patinas used by Anne Bulmer Brewer in her collections are selected because of their structural depth and strength - this means the patinas will hold their color and strength over time and wear. Anne has performed numerous tests with each patina used in her collections to ensure the integrity and last of each color.
The last stage in metalwork production is patination, a process crucial to the final appearance of a work. Patination is essentially a matter of oxidising the metal surface. Once the desired effect has been achieved, the object is covered with wax or urushi lacquer to prevent further oxidation and stabilise the colour obtained.
Countless patination techniques have been devised over the centuries, making up a body of inherited skills referred to as the 'secret teachings' of metalwork. One such technique, for example, involves the intentional corrosion of a cast iron surface by the application of an oxidising compound followed by heating, cleaning and the polishing on of urushi lacquer, which is hardened by firing to about 150 degrees (yakitsuke).
In the case of objects made of non-ferrous metals, the completed work is soaked in a solution of verdigris mixed with copper sulphate heated to 80. Once the desired colour has been obtained, the work is removed from the patinating solution, rinsed and then, by way of protection, treated all over with ibota-ro, a kind of insect wax.