Torigaski is an Australian artist living in Japan. Japanese-style Damascene inlay is one of the traditional Japanese metal crafting techniques, which attracted Torigaski's attention when she moved to Japan. “It is my goal to give it a contemporary form of expression in the art jewellery format. While it is a time-consuming craft, I sincerely hope its aesthetic appeal will attract other artists to try it and experiment with the technique so that it may continue to flourish for many years to come.”.
Damascene inlay is a centuries-old metal inlay technique whose origins are unclear. Some of the earliest artifacts exhibiting this technique have been found in China and the Middle East, dating back to the 10th – 13th centuries A.D. Knowledge of the technique eventually spread to Japan thanks to trading activities along the Silk Road. In Japan, with the rise of the samurai classes in the 12th century, various kinds of inlay, including Damascene inlay, were used for the decoration of armour and weapons. Typically, gold and silver pieces of wire and sheet metal were inlaid into an iron base, such as a sword guard, or tsuba. However, after the introduction of the Sword Prohibition Act in 1876, craftspeople were forced to find other ways to earn a living. Many turned to making decorative objects including jewellery. These days, Damascene inlay in Japan has been described as gradually ‘dying out’ due to older craftspeople passing on and the lack of new apprentices. Training and mastery of the technique can take many years, which appears to deter the younger generations.
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