New fine art form creation a beauty

Jewellery artist Darren Jackson combines ancient Japanese techniques with NASA technology to create modern art work and unique pieces of jewellery. Jay Cronan
Jewellery artist Darren Jackson combines ancient Japanese techniques with NASA technology to create modern art work and unique pieces of jewellery. Jay Cronan

BYRON BAY jeweller Darren Jackson has combined the ancient techniques of Japanese sword-makers with 21st Century NASA technology to create an original fine art form.

Featured in an upcoming exhibition, Adornment, at Mullumbimby’s Art Piece Gallery, Mr Jackson has spent six years developing the technique he now applies to his work.

He fuses together layers of precious metals, including gold, silver and copper, to produce uniquely-patterned metals which he in turn forges, rolls and carves into one-off pieces.

The technique, first introduced by sword smiths in feudal Japan, wasalmost lost in the modern era, but is now making a resurgence.

“I only found one guy in the whole of Japan who still does it,” he said.

The former DJ, who switched trades after becoming a father and has channelled his creativity into making jewellery with the same intensity ever since, travelled toTokyo to learn directly from the master jeweller.

After years of experimentation and thousands of dollars of lost precious metals, Mr Jackson has now pioneered his own method using a solid state diffusion technique developed by NASA.

The technology enabled scientists to create a skin or shell for their spacecraft that was free of stress points.

“Every piece is its own piece, like a grain of timber. It can never repeat itself,” he said.

“I’ve got a sack full of failures that will have to go back to the refinery to extract the precious metals back out of it.”

The technique is known as mokume gane and was first developed by 17th Century master Denbei Shoami by combining ‘the cool functionality of metal with the warm aesthetics of wood’.

It was used by sword-makers to create the intricate ornamental handles and adornments on traditional Japanese swords.

According to Mr Jackson, the art is in the fusing, where just the right bal-ance of heat and pressure is applied to join the layers without them melting into one other, but enough so that they don’t separate or delaminate in the crafting of the individual pieces.

He hand-carves through the layers of each piece and then reforges it creating a totally original piece each time. The process is repeated as many times as necessary to achieve the desired result.

It is described by supporters as painstakingly original work where ‘every art piece serves asa metaphor for the creative actitself’. Adornment opens tomorrow at the Art Piece Gallery in Mullumbimby.

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