Making by Hand
My work is focused on making tools out of recycled materials and sharing the knowledge of how to use the tools with people who have little to no prior experience of metal crafts. I am making tools by hand to be used by other people’s hands with the hope of inspiring more people to embrace making by hand. We live in a world where so much is being made by machines, to an extent that it feels like people do not know how things can be made using your hands and hand tools.
When you design an object and a machine produces it you are dependent on the function of the machine, but when you make it by hand the result is something that is undeniably made by you, no one else. This sense of empowerment is something I want to share with other people through my work and with participatory workshops.
Crafts and making by hand is the essential and recurring focus in my work. I use machines but never to an extent that the machine has complete control of what I am making. The human element is always present with its flaws and imperfections.
My interest in jewellery has been replaced with an interest in the tools we as craftspeople use. I make tools to be used by my hands and by the hands of other craftspeople. I feel much more attached to the tools I own compared to jewellery. The connection between body and tool feels so much more natural to me than the connection between body and jewellery. If my work, the tools I make, can create the same connection for other makers – then I think I have done my part in keeping the love for making by hand alive and contributing to preserving craft knowledge in a time where machines are so advanced that its now possible to 3D-print metal.
Minimizing the carbon footprint of my artistic practice is equally important as the craft itself. For that reason, I use reclaimed metal and wood when making hammers, knives and other tools. I use no animal derived materials in my practice, no leather, no bone, no beeswax. No animal should be harmed or killed in the making of art.
Oskar Dominic Summerton
From the very start of this project I have been interested in making hammers, something I’ve never done before. I had a clear idea of what I wanted to make; chasing hammers, one inspired by the typical western chasing hammers and one inspired by Japanese chasing hammers. Both are made from the same scrap steel found at Lindholmen, Gothenburg. On the Japanese style hammer, the texture from the rusty steel is preserved while the western style hammer has been machined on the lathe and sandblasted.
Working with scrap steel means you don’t know the exact carbon content of the material, so before making tools from it I cut of a small piece and tried hardening it. I was lucky and the heat-treated test piece turned out hard – at least hard enough for making hammers out of it, but not hard enough for making cutting tools such as knives.
Western style chasing hammer. Machined on a lathe, the waists of the hammer have been sandblasted.
The first two hammers made during this project. The top one is inspired by Japanese chasing hammers, the bottom is more of a traditional western chasing hammer.
This image shows the yellow oxidation caused by tempering the hammer head at around 210° celsius.
Making your Mark
During this very casual workshop the participants got to try out chasing in aluminium. Each person received a tool kit consisting of a chasing hammer, 3 punches (line, dome, triangle) and a wooden board with a piece of thick steel plate.
Due to the governmental call for social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic I chose to have this workshop at home with people within my circle of friends. Although this wasn’t my first choice of setting for a workshop it turned out to be a very pleasant experience. Being able to just hang out, have coffee and learn some chasing felt like the perfect way of testing out this activity – but it could also be another way of conducting future workshops without the hassle of finding a venue.
Oskar Dominic Summerton
Born 1993 in Norwich, England
2018–2020 Master’s programme in Jewellery Art, HDK-Valand – Academy of Art and Design, University of Gothenburg
2015–2018 Bachelor’s programme in Jewellery Art, HDK-Valand – Academy of Art and Design, University of Gothenburg
2014–2015 Jewellery smithing and textile printing, Hellidens Folkhögskola, Tidaholm
2010–2013 Sheet metalworking, Praktiska Gymnasiet, Skövde
2019-07-01 to 2019-07-30 “Killevippen”, Nääs Konsthantverk, Gothenburg
2018 Bachelor exam exhibition, Kajskjul 113, Gothenburg
2018-10-06 to 2019-03-03 World of Feathers, The Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm
2018-02-10 to 2018-08-19 World of Feathers, The Museum of World Culture, Gothenburg
2017 Student exhibition, Nääs Konsthantverk, Gothenburg
2018 Winner of design competition for the medal for Göteborgsvarvet half marathon 2018, Gothenburg, Sweden