Jim Binnion and Mokume

Jim Binnion lecture

JIM BINNION

Jim Binnion and mokume are now closely associated but his roots in craft go back to his childhood visits to his grandmother’s home.  His grandmother was a baker, weaver, furniture maker and doll maker.  She inspired Jim to use his creative talents in many ways.  Though he did many craft projects at his grandmother’s he found his passion for jewelry in high school.

Jim is the oldest of his siblings and grew up in a number of different states due to his father’s air force and business career.

A very analytical brain served him well during his 9 years as an electronics technician in the US Navy Submarine Service.  Duty stations were in New London, CT (USS Groton) and Mare Island, CA (USS Sea Wolf).  Following his navy career he was an electronics engineer with SRI International where his job involved designing and constructing scientific research instrumentation.  Jim worked at SRI for 13 years.

During these times Jim did not stray from his love of metal and jewelry.  Reading, experimenting and taking classes, he expanded his knowledge and skills.  While still in the Navy in the early 1980s, Jim started attending classes with Alan Revere, George McLean and several other instructors at the Revere Academy in San Francisco. Jim has always been drawn to the beauty and workmanship of Japanese craft. Once he saw mokume in the early 1980s he wanted to master the technique.

Since there were no mokume classes he began to teach himself how to make mokume gane.  Once he had success with his mokume gane technique Alan asked him to teach a mokume workshop in 1984.

Jim laminates the mokume and carves all the patterns.  Jim’s designs are a perfect blend of his personality.   The rigorous requirements to successfully laminate mokume gane reflect the engineer side of his brain.  Carved patterns and designs reflect his artistic side.  From his own studies and in consulting with metallurgists he has a thorough working knowledge of metals, especially as needed to laminate mokume billets.

AN EARLY PIONEER

Jim pioneered use of an electric kiln to fire mokume gane.  Mokume artists had not had success using an electric kiln and instead were using traditional forges.  In 1991 he established James Binnion Metal Arts (JBMA), working exclusively in mokume.

The World Wide Web was a fairly new phenomenon when Jim became an avid user.  In 1996 he set up his first website as a way to share images of what he was working on with an email list group called Artmetal.  It had not crossed his mind to sell his jewelry using the web but he soon was receiving inquiries from people he didn’t know asking about his rings.

By 1998 Jim had two full time jobs: engineer by day and making rings nights and weekends.  In August 1999, with Terry now helping with the business, he decided to devote himself full time to making mokume and jewelry.

A RECOGNIZED MASTER

In addition to the numerous classes on mokume he has taught, he has taught classes in other jewelry and metal techniques.   He freely shares his expertise jewelry forums and Facebook groups.  Magazines have sought him out for his expertise and have included his insights on mokume, metal and jewelry.  Jim wrote a book on metals for jewelers that was published in 2015.

Innovation never stops in his studio.  There are notebooks, computers and iPads throughout the house and studio for Jim to capture the next idea and innovation.  Excited with new technology he has taken a number of classes for 3D modeling.  Two 3D printers reside in his studio office for growing the settings he designs and other projects.

Jim and Terry married in 1998.  They moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Bellingham WA in November 2001. Besides working in his studio Jim enjoys reading (technical and science fiction), cooking (especially spicy foods), home brewing beer and taking walks with his wife and dogs.

Follow Jim on his Blog!

See his latest work on Facebook and Instagram.

Over the years Jim has freely shared his knowledge and expertise.  He taught his first mokume workshop in 1984 and has been teaching, writing and giving professional presentations ever since.

Awards:

2017 May: Research Award presented by The Santa Fe Symposium on Jewelry Manufacturing Technology, “for outstanding, creative and innovative research on a new method for preparing 3D acrylic photopolymer patterns for investment casting” for 2016.

2011 May: Collaborative Research Award presented by The Santa Fe Symposium on Jewelry Manufacturing Technology, “In recognition of published research-done in collaboration between a manufacturing jeweler and a supplier-that uses good scientific principles to result in useful information that can be applied for the greater good of the industry.”

2010 May: Collaborative Research Award presented by The Santa Fe Symposium on Jewelry Manufacturing Technology, “In recognition of published research-done in collaboration between a manufacturing jeweler and a supplier-that uses good scientific principles to result in useful information that can be applied for the greater good of the industry.”

2006 May: Collaborative Research Award presented by The Santa Fe Symposium on Jewelry Manufacturing Technology, “In recognition of published research-done in collaboration between a manufacturing jeweler and a supplier-that uses good scientific principles to result in useful information that can be applied for the greater good of the industry.”

2003 May: Industry Leader Award presented by The Santa Fe Symposium on Jewelry Manufacturing Technology for significant contribution by a manufacturer in sharing quality technical information.

Publications:

“A New Method for Preparing 3D-Printed Acrylic Photopolymers for Investment Casting” by James Binnion-James Binnion Metal Arts, USA; published in Proceedings of the Thirtieth Santa Fe Symposium; edited by Eddie Bell; 2016.

“Mokume Gane History and How-To: A Survey of Technique” By Chris Ploof-Chris Ploof Designs, USA and James Binnion-James Binnion Metal Arts, USA; published in Proceedings of the Thirtieth Santa Fe Symposium; edited by Eddie Bell; 2016.

“Jewelry Metals: A Guide to Working with Common Alloys” Technical Editor: James Binnion, MJSA Press, 2015.

“DC Arc Melting for Jewelry Casting” By James Binnion, James Binnion Metal Arts; published in Proceedings of the Twenty-Eighth Santa Fe Symposium; edited by Eddie Bell; 2014.

“The Role of Grain Size and Growth on Bond Strength of Diffusion-Bonded Mokume Gane” By James Binnion, James Binnion Metal Arts; published in Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth Santa Fe Symposium; edited by Eddie Bell; 2010.

“Designing, Building and Testing a Thermal Expansion Mismatch Torque Plate (TEMTP) System for Diffusion Bonding Mokume Gane Billets: “The Poor Man’s Hot Press” By James Binnion, James Binnion Metal Arts, Andrew Nyce, Andrew Nyce Designs and Stewart Grice, Hoover & Strong Inc.; published in Proceedings of the Nineteenth Santa Fe Symposium; edited by Eddie Bell; 2005.

“Non-Traditional Mokume Gane Materials: Diffusion Bonding of Iron to Precious Metals” by James Binnion published in Proceedings of the Eighteenth Santa Fe Symposium; edited by Eddie Bell; 2004.

“Creative Bonding of Platinum with Other Metals” by James Binnion; published in
Platinum Manufacturing Process Volume XI; Platinum Guild International USA; 2003.

“Pattern Recognition” by James Binnion; published in April 2003 issue of AJM magazine.

Mokume Gane: An Ancient Technique Brought into the New Millennium” by James Binnion; published in Proceedings of the Sixteenth Santa Fe Symposium; edited by Eddie Bell; 2002.

“Electric Kiln Fired Mokume Gane” by James Binnion in Mokume Gane: A Comprehensive Study by Steve Midgett; 2000; published by Earthshine Press.

Professional Presentations, Workshops and Classes:

2018: Mokume Class at Rio Grande in New Mexico taught with Chris Ploof

2017: Mokume Class at Rio Grande in New Mexico taught with Chris Ploof

2017:  MJSA Expo, New York City
2016:  Portland Jewelry Symposium
2016:  COMA: Colorado Metalsmithing Association Conference                                                                                            2016:  The Santa Fe Symposium on Jewelry Manufacturing Technology in New Mexico                                            2014:  The Santa Fe Symposium on Jewelry Manufacturing Technology in New Mexico
2010: The Santa Fe Symposium on Jewelry Manufacturing Technology in New Mexico
2006:  CLASP panel member2005:  Kraft Master at Kraftwerks in Ontario, CA
2005:  The Santa Fe Symposium on Jewelry Manufacturing Technology in New Mexico
2004:  The Santa Fe Symposium on Jewelry Manufacturing Technology in New Mexico
2003:  Kraft Master at Kraftwerks in Ontario, CA
2003   Platinum Days at the MJSA Conference
2002:  The Santa Fe Symposium on Jewelry Manufacturing Technology in New Mexico
2002:  MJSA Conference in NYC

Member of Organizations:
ABANA: Artists Blacksmiths Association of North America
ASM International: the materials information society
Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America, Inc. (MJSA)
Seattle Metals Guild

Member of MJSA/AJM Innovation Council in 2016
Past Member and Past President (1990) of San Francisco Metal Arts Guild (MAG)

Professional and Juried Craft Shows in the past:

American Craft Council:  Baltimore, Columbus and West Springfield

Buyers Market of American Craft: Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco

Contemporary Crafts Market: San Francisco and Santa Monica