Vol.2 Junich Iwamura

April 8, 2009 1:58 PM update

Junich Iwamura

English translation:MIYA SAKASHITA
In Japan, the history of the silverware is old and just had been confirmed the use of it was in the middle Heian Period. Later the use was widespread among the ordinary people's lives, which made the toreutic craft and technique exponentially improved. There were some great temples and mansions of the feudal lords particularly in the present Tito Wards area in Tokyo, where it was high demand of silver and the silverware manufacturing was quite strong through the ages. In such a town of craftsmen, Mori Silver Works Co., Ltd. is the comprehensive manufacturer that has any kind of silverwares from the utility goods such as spoons, forks and earpicks to the royal warrants. Junichi Iwamura was 18 years old when joining the company. He has 38 years career as a swordsmith called 'Uchimonoshi' and got certificated as a traditional craftsman by the minister of economy.

"It is the first time that I tried to make the hammered grains, 'TSUCHIME' by watching someone's example when I was the fresh man having to do all works too much.", he said. "Sometimes they need to make hammered finish for silver plate which is only one-tenth of a millimeter thickness. I remember that I was watching their works with interest how they could do such a work. In such a case with that thickness of silver plate, the hammerhead has to be struck the top of 'ATEGANE' (※1). If it is failed, it will become nonsmooth surface. To put it the other way around, if it comes along, it will produce the high pinging sound. It took 5 years for me to learn it."
While he was talking such a story, his hummer absolutely targeted the top of object and produces a pleasant metallic sound in the whole workplace. It is just expert work by specialist, Takumi, who can discern only with sounds.

"I think that machinery might also do such a work, but nothing can do better than hand work. Because I suppose the same piece of work doesn't exist and, above all, you can feel something warm from the human's work. However such products made by hand can be expensive, can't they? It's kind of sad for us as craftsmen though, that a number of people tend to buy things only on their designs. I hope they educate the eye to see things a little better... LOL", he said.

Even for making a small sake cup, it needs the wide-ranging processes: melting for making the plate from the silver block, then metallic rolling to stretch it out to be proper thinness, hammering to form it, and decorating and finishing it by finisher.
Handwork is must in every process. In each process, each craftsman reiterates his work until he is satisfied. Knowing the processes until product finished leads to know its value and worth.

"Items made by striking are mended by striking, that is my mantra. Conversely, items made by machinery cannot be mended by machinery, can they? If, for instance, silverware is dropped down, it will get dented. But don't worry about it; it will be reverted thanks to the tools we use. I believe that it is the work done only by handwork. Throughout the ages, someone says that the expensive ones can last a long time...:-) The handmade items are expensive that involve a lot of effort. But it can be used for decades; therefore, the responsibility to make it true is undertaken by craftsmen."

It is reputed that silverwares last for 300 years. Surface scratches and weathering will turn to a favor of it, and the more it is used the more it is lustered. While now its antibacterial action is generally known, it is still not known familiarly as home use. It is the crown of their techniques that have handed down to following generations. You might take this opportunity to get such their works.

Mori Silver Works Co., Ltd.
Address: 2-5-12 Higashiueno, Taitoh-ku, Tokyo
Tel: +81-3-3833-8821
HP  http://www.moriginki.co.jp/

※1. The metal tools of varied shapes, on which the silver material of two dimensions is put and hammered to be three dimensions.

'AKEGANE' used are approximately 300 types, even just hammer approximately 50 types, which craftsman make in accordance with the works they produce.
(Left): the small sake cup decorated with the hammer which Mr. Iwamura excels at. At least 3000 times he hammers.
(Right): the silver card case being full of substance, which shows adult's perfectionism even in the ordinary use.
Work of metallic rolling: while measuring by a micrometer, silver plate is finished so that its thickness will be equalized. Being so simple work, it must be hugely influenced by craftsman's long experience and instinct.

The finisher coats silverware with liquid for Factory Tarnish Silver, 'GINFURUBI', that he blends in to make it polished. Then he scrubs the surface with baking soda for enhancing its hammer gains, 'TSUCHIME'.

The molds are the fortunes for silverware manufactures. Mori Silver Works Co., Ltd. has different thousands of mold to use for different orders.