Damascene jewellery art
Damascene jewellery art was born in Damascus, Syria more than 2 000 years ago. This technique of decorating metal was also practiced in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. In Japan, the art of damascene got through the Silk Road in the period between 710 AD -794 and achieved great popularity in Kyoto during the Edo period (1603 – 1868), when decorated handle of weapons. Later, when the swords were banned in Japan, damascene Masters, used their skills in the manufacture of accessories and jewelry, which reflected traditional motifs – flowers, birds, sakura, landscapes, Mount Fuji. By 1936, more than half of the manufactured products in the technique of Damascene had been exported mainly to the United States and England.
In 1936, in Yokohama, Japan was published a book, which describes the painstaking, lengthy and difficult process of making objects in the technique of Damascene. The book tells that master was sitting cross-legged in front of a low bench. Design of pattern then transferred to the tissue paper with thin chisel. With the delicate touches, the patterns were then engraved into templates. Very fine gold and silver threads were then gently hammered into the grooves, and with the tool of deer horn smoothed surface of the product. Then there was a process of oxidation by nitric acid, after drying, the product was washed twice with salt water and then quenched with fire. This process of washing and baking was repeated eight or nine times a day for five days. Thereafter, the product was immersed in red mud, and baked. This immersion and baking was repeated 50 to 100 times to form a varnish coating. Then, the surface was coated with charcoal powder and oil, and baked again. This process was repeated 10 or 20 times, before the part has been cleaned of a black powder, and the surface rubbed and polished by a small steel rod.
Somewhere in the 1960s, the corporation Amita Jewelry Corporation of Kyoto, published an undated brochure on jewelry technique Damascene, made in their company. The manufacturing process was very similar to the process in the 1930s.
In Spain, the art of Damascene appeared when the Moors conquered the territory of modern Spain, with the result that the Spanish masters adopted the technique of Damascene. The centre of Damascene is Toledo.
Spanish damascening method is very similar, but slightly different. The work is usually done on a small surface. Precious metals are placed in the grooves and hammered with a small hammer. Black background is created by the oxidation of a very hot solution. The Spanish technology used 18 and 24 carat gold.
Spanish Damascene products are made in the Renaissance style, with a picture of flowers and birds, as well as a variety of complex geometric patterns.
We must not forget, and be able to distinguish Spanish technique Damascene, from its imitation – moldings, painted in black and gold tone. Such articles are certainly beautiful, but they are made by hand and do not contain precious metals. It is interesting that at the moment, style Damascene virtually disappeared from the Middle East.
Brooch ‘Ship’ in the Damascene technique. Production Spain, marked SPAIN. Beginning 1980s. Made in the technique of painstaking and time-consuming art of Damascene – inlay of various metals into each other. With steel tools or by etching on the surface, the image stands out. Next is the process of fine gold wire inlay on a pre-engraved image. The relief of the image is laid out and secured in fact hammering in the engraving of the precious metal. The next step – the oxidation or browning and heat in the oven, in which the surface becomes dark, and the drawing – a convex and contrasting with the surface. Then comes the process of chasing the bas-relief, by which figure gets relief, later polished to a shine. Finishing products includes giving elements various shades, covered with enamel, giving a matte or pearl effect.
Very unusual, refined brooch with a variety of elaborately worked details. The top of the key is decorated with openwork green and yellow enamels, and chest-suspension of three-dimensional design. The complex geometric patterns and floral ornaments, realistic keyhole and legs at the casket, all of stunning quality work of Wizard – this is the secret charm of this brooch.