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Jim Kelso

Uchidashi copper Red Eft

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Uchidashi (hammer reveal) is the Japanese method of pushing sheet metal into a form while it’s held in pitch. Other than an initial slight push from the back at the very beginning, all the form volume is produced from the front. This allows the resulting form to retain its original sheet thickness, a great benefit in subsequent development of details.

Toshimasa-Sensei had shown me this technique in 1997 by forming a quick gourd shape. Somehow I had not used it much in the intervening years, although I thought about it a lot. It was perfect for this project and I thoroughly enjoyed the magic of seeing the Eft take form.

I began with sheet copper,  21G = .724mm = .028”.  After sawing  an ovoid blank, the initial punching with wood was done into a sand bag. This is just to get a little jump on the volume and does not thin the metal. I made a Mylar sheet template to be able to pencil in the design repeatedly. With the design penciled, a large blunt, rough steel punch is used to begin to raise the volume by punching from the side and slightly down. The pitch is warmed just enough for the metal to be able to move. As volume is created, the punching progresses with the punch angle dropped so that the sideways force pushes the metal within the design upward.

As volume is established thought must be given as to how to define details such as the legs/feet, while retaining thickness. Specialized punches are brought into use as needed.

Essentially all menuki (with a few exceptions) would have been made using uchidashi. Menuki most often have vertical walls. In this case I wanted to roll the sides under to get a lifelike quality so I ended up stretching the metal underneath to its max. You can see some spots where the punches went through. This was fine as it was in the waste area which is sawn away anyway.

I'll post more photos as the finishing progresses.

I make no claims as to my methods being “authentic Japanese”. It works for me…

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Edited by Jim Kelso
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Wow! I really like the bottom jaw pops out like that, it looks like it isn't a part of the original plate.

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Wow, that is amazing, I can't believe it came from that sheet!

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I have a hard time wrapping my head around how you would have to think so far ahead to know were a particular part of the sheet would be in the end product.

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6 hours ago, Brian Dougherty said:

I have a hard time wrapping my head around how you would have to think so far ahead to know were a particular part of the sheet would be in the end product.

Thanks guys for all the comments. Brian, having the mylar pattern (see photo below) helps a great deal to continually check reference points. Once I got to the stage shown in photo #6 above, it started moving along more intuitively, as the end could be more easily seen in the pillowy form. I went slow, and every bit of progress makes it a little clearer. 

I did move his legs out a bit from the body to get more material to work with between the legs and body. They can be slightly tweaked back tighter now that everything is formed and once they are sawn free from the base-plate. 

BTW in the more pinkish photo #7 I just glanced at it last night and it looked positive (raised) instead of negative (sunk). It is actually a view from the backside! I wonder if anyone saw it as positive. Also in that same photo note the total lack of tool-marks in the hollow form underneath. All that nice fresh metal!

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Edited by Jim Kelso

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Wow, I saw that photo as positive until you called it out.  Now I can go back and toggle it from positive or negative.  It's quite the illusion.  (Then again, most of your work creates an illusion of some sort!)

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You can see a little time-lapse flick here:

Kelso/YouTube

Edited by Jim Kelso
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This is amazing, and I'll be returning to it in the future more likely than not. Thanks for sharing!

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Cheers Caleb

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Nice, Jim! Also, I LOVE those little salamanders. They're so cool! :)

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22 hours ago, J.Arthur Loose said:

Nice, Jim! Also, I LOVE those little salamanders. They're so cool! :)

Thanks Jul.

They are one of my favorites. Generally they are so unperturbed by human presence that you can pick them up without bother and sometimes even stroke their little heads!  :P

Edited by Jim Kelso
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Almost done with the Eft except for a little pedicure and patina.

Lots to do on the wood yet...

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