Gold inlay work ”Metal work artist, Masami Ichikawa”

Gold inlay work
”Metal work artist, Masami Ichikawa”

Graceful and dynamic lines

Metal work artist Masami Ichikawa earns high acclaim for his delicate yet dynamic design. When we visited his workshop, his art pieces were displayed on the table. ”Cool!” Nakata exclaimed. Graceful yet dynamic lines of the piece were impressive. Ichikawa mainly uses damascening technique. This technique is so elaborate that it takes a whole year to finish just the three pieces he was readying for an exhibition.

Please let me be your apprentice!

“How did you start on this path?” “I first started with an apprenticeship of mold casting which was more of industrial metal work but I wanted to create things of my own design. I went to see exhibitions and encountered pieces by Ikkoku Kashima who was a Living National Treasure and immediately went to ask him to make me his apprentice,” he said shyly. “What was his reaction?” asked Nakata. “He was surprised of course. I was declined for lack of work space and he told me to come back when he had sufficient space. But I visited him again the following month.” “And then what did he say?” “I asked him again to let me study under him for three years and he reluctantly agreed. I stayed with him for ten years.” The techniques learned during this apprenticeship became the foundation of everything he is today. He continued creative activity, received many awards and now he is one of Japan’s leading artists.

Beauty brought on by elaborate work.

We moved on to his workshop to see his production method. ”The blade must be tapped lightly so that it does not go in too deeply,” says Ichikawa as he starts to work the carving knife and hammer on the metal surface. He taps the knife ever so lightly, as though he is not applying any strength at all. Nakata gives it a try, ”Oh, no! I scratched the metal,” says Nakata as he struggles through the process. ”Lightly, more like dropping rather than tapping,” Nakata continues to make very small markings on the metal. At the end of the tour Nakata says, ”Traditional crafts…sounds…” Ichikawa continues ”sounds very serious?.” ”I agree. There are a lot of cool things and some pieces match nicely with western interior. I would like to collect what interests me, share them with many people and surprise them in a good way. These people in turn may discover interesting aspects of traditional craftwork. Ichikawa answers happily, ”Please continue to do so.” ”These are very stylish. If you place the suits from playing cards in a row like this,” says Nakata. ” ”This is cool,” answers Ichikawa. ”But the work would be very elaborate, your arm would be…,” laughs Nakata. The techniques of metal work changes expression with each artist. Nakata was fortunate in discovering another attractive artwork.


Metal work artist Masami Ichikawa
Tsubame, Niigata Prefecture