[Mokume-Gane] James Binnion's Teapot

James, The teapot is wondeful! It brings up a question for me.
Did you raise it from sheet in a traditional manner? If so,
were there any problems with cracking, delamination, etc. Also
did it take an unusual amount of annealing, etc? Thanks for your
info. Michael Parkin

I had the good fortune to hold this incredible vessel a couple
of weeks ago when Jim came to visit Steve Midgett during his
workshop at the Academy. The piece is just awesome. The idea of
creating such a large item out of one piece of mokume is
staggering and the workmanship is just top shelf all the way. I
have never seen anything like it before. Bravo!

Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts
San Francisco


Thanks for your comments on the teapot.  Sorry I did not get

back to your questions right away. I have been in Albuquerque
for the past week. The sheet for the teapot is hand forged to
size from the original laminated billet. I do not have access to
a rolling mill that is large enough to make the two 7"x 7" sheets
that were required to make the top and bottom halves of the
teapot. The main billet for each sheet that started out as a
0.625" x 2" x 3" laminate billet it was then forged down to
about 0.500" to fit into my rolling mill then it was rolled until
it was about 100 mm long then it was cross rolled to make a 100
mm square sheet this is the limits of my rolling mill in width.
I then forged this plate down to approximately 18 ga by hand. If
you ever want to gain great respect for hollow ware makers before
the mid 1700s when rolling mills were invented try hand forging
sheet, it was a humbling and tiring experience. I had some
minor de-lamination at the edges of the sheet which I cut away
during the forging . Circular blanks 6" dia. were then cut from
the sheets and formed by hydraulic press forming and rasing
techniques to make the hemispheres. I had originally intended on
only using rasing techniques. By the time I got to making the
teapot forms I was very tired of hammering and running up against
a deadline so I used the press to speed things up. The amount of
annealing was consistent with the silver, copper, brass mokume
laminate and more often than working with just a single metal.
Anyway the laminate is very forgeable and can be raised with
about the same amount of effort as raising brass and if you do a
good job of laminating it will hold together.


James Binnion Metal Arts
4701 San Leandro St #18
Oakland, CA 94601

I am also a great admirer of that teapot! At the mokume gane
exhibit at the National Ornamental Metal Museum some time back,
many people were. I have a couple of additional questions
regarding that wonderful vessel. I hope they are not pushing
beyond the point many people have about revealing their own
special skills!

Anyhow, here goes …

The patterning on that piece was marvelous. How did you develop
the pattern? Did the amount of hand forging required to create
the blank significantly contribute to the laminar distortion to
create the pattern? Did you punch or grind to expose the

Once the pattern was there, it was nicely patinated. What did
you use?

I apologise if I am perhaps asking more than you wish to reveal.
If so, please put my curiosity down to my admiration of the
piece. I do think, however, that knowing HOW you did it will
only increase this admiration!

Thanks in advance …

Marrin Fleet