About Me

Ms. Kotomi “Lemi” Yoda became a metalwork artists specializing in reppoussé and other metal hammering techniques because, as she puts it, 

“the Fire god teased me!”

pigeon

Kotomi was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1964 and started her study of art very early. By the age of 15, she had decided her life's goal was to become an artist. At that time she believed studying Design was the most advanced sector of the arts so she entered the Department of Graphic Design at the Tokyo Metropolitan High School of Fine Arts and Music where she studied drawing, design, clay modeling, oil painting, art history, color study and sculpture. However, at the age of 18 she became interested in more three dimensional artwork as she believed art should be touched and enjoyed with all the senses. In 1982, she had the first of many exhibitions, showing her graduating work as part of a group exhibition at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Tokyo.

In 1984, two years after graduating high school, Kotomi entered the prestigious Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. While she studied many different artforms, including Urushi lacquerware, fabric making, ceramics, and traditional metalworking, she became most interested in reppoussé (forged metal sculpture) and other hammering works.  Her interest was sparked while taking a casting class when a wax model melted in an unusual way. She blamed the Japanese Fire god Ho-masubi for being a bit too energetic. Since reppoussé and other hammering works are less vulnerable to Ho-Masubi, Kotomi can hold her own.

She completed her Bachelor's of Art in Metalsmithing in 1988 and a Masters in Art in Metalsmithing in 1990 and in Conservation and Restoration in 1992.

While studying conservation and restoration and working with ancient metalwork pieces, Kotomi decided to try to make her work last more than 500 years, thus her work tends to be strong and made to last.

During her University years, Kotomi exhibited her work on a number of ocassions: as part of a group exhibition at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum in Tokyo four times; once at the Yoyogi Gallery in Tokyo; and once at the Tokyo International University of Fine Arts and Music in Tokyo. While at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Kotomi was awarded the covered Harada Prize for her creative art work and, after earning her first master's degree, she was granted membership in the Japanese Modern Craft Art Society.

After leaving University, Kotomi has displayed her works as part of a group exhibition at the Ochanomiizu Gallery in Tokyo in 1993, as part of four-person exhibition entitled “Crafts for the Home” at the Sudo Gallery in Tokyo in 1994, and as a solo exhibition entitled “Kotomi Lemi Yoda's Metalwork World” at Gallery Orim in Tokyo in 1995. In addition, Kotomi taught Drawing at the Ochanomizu Art Institute, the Tokyo Metropolitan High School of Design and Technology, and the Kawaijuku Art School. She has also taught Jewelry making at the Tokyo Design College, Drawing and Graphic Design at the Tokyo Metropolitan High School of Fine Arts and Music, Color Design at the Tokyo YMCA Design School, and was an Instructor for the Master of Arts program in Conservation and Restoration at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.

In 1994, Kotomi created the Tokyo Metalwork Studio where she continued her creative artwork as well as various restoration works on culturally significant artifacts and Japanese National Treasures. In 1995, she began consulting on restoration and research of ancient Japanese metalwork techniques for Japanese museums, which she continues to this day.

In 1996, Kotomi and her colleague Tsutomu Suzuki, formed the Japanese Ancient Metalwork Techniques Research Institute in Tokyo, bringing together 20 individuals including professors, instructors, and researchers from Universities throughout Japan, experts from the Tokyo National Museum, and students from various fields including archeology, metalwork, textiles, woodwork, leatherwork, and others to study and recreate the techniques used by artisans in Japan from fourth to seventh century AD. This institute continues research into historical artisans' techniques and has grown to over 30 experts and students. 

Selected restoration works and special museum projects in Japan include:

  • 1992 Metalwork restoration project at the Enmeji-Temple in Saitama, the Buddha sculpture in Kanagawa, and the Buddha's Cabinet in Chiba Prefecture.

  • 1993 Silver Reppoussé Buddha sculpture for Naritasan-Shinshoji Branch Temple in Chiba Prefecture.

  • 1994 Metalwork restoration projects of the Buddha's cabinet in Kanagawa, Metalwork Ramps of Nihonbashi Bridge restoration project in Tokyo, ancient crown and jewelry at the Shimane Museum in Shimane Prefecture.
  • 1995 Metalwork copy restoration project of ancient horse armor and buckle at the Kashihara Archeology Institute of Museum in Nara Prefecture.

  • 1996 Metalwork copy and restoration project of ancient sword and jewelry at the Shimane Museum in Shimane Prefecture.

  • 1997 Metalwork copy restoration project of the Mandala National Treasure at the Tokyo National Museum in Tokyo.
  • 1998 Metalwork copy restoration project of ancient pendant earrings at Suzuka City Archeology Museum in Mie Prefecture.
  • 2000 Metalwork copy restoration project of ancient horse armor at the Fukushima Cultural Property Center in Fukushima Prefecture.
  • 2004 Metalwork copy restoration project of ancient pendant earrings at the Fukuoka City Museum and at the Kawara-machi Institute of Education.
  • 2007 Metalwork copy restoration project of ancient pendant chain hair ornaments of National Treasure at the Kashihara Archeology Institute of Museum in Nara Prefecture.

Kotomi has also lectured on Metalwork techniques of ancient artisans at the Institute of Engineering in Tokyo and the Shimane Museum in Shimane Prefecture, ancient jewelry making techniques at results of her research on the Mandala National Treasure at the Hiko-Mizuno Jewelry College, artisan techniques in the creation of ancient pendant earrings at the Suzuka City Archeology Museum, ancient jewelry making techniques at the Shimane Research and Conservation Institute, artisan techniques, how ancient mirrors were polished, and the results of her research on ancient metalwork at the Fukuoka City Museum, and techniques of applying gold leaf to three dimensional artwork at several metalwork studios and shops.

Kotomi has published 11 articles in various museum and academic journals on ancient metalwork techniques and artifacts including topics such as the creation of horse armor, the hollow precious gold covered metal balls found in the Saginoyu Tomb, the metalwork techniques of Golden Twin Dragon Ring Pommel Sword, the Kofun-period Pendant Earrings from the Hokori-Ichigofun Tomb, the Kofun-period Pendant Earrings from the Nagahata-Ichigofun Tomb, the metalwork technique creation of pendant chain hair ornaments from the Fujinoki-kofun Tomb.

In 1999, Kotomi moved to the US and established Lemi's Metalwork Studio in Redwood City, CA, where she has been continuing both her creative work and helping to restore and research Japanese National treasures.  She also continues to teach art and jewelry making to students of many nationalities in the US.

Kotomi believes in the continuity of cultural traditions. As she says, “I am Japanese. I learned Japanese cultural and traditional techniques from many people. I really appreciate the fact that I am walking on a path made by artisans of the past. I believe I am one of the people privileged to transmit this knowledge to others and I will continue to work using ancient and traditional Japanese techniques fused with modern ideas. I hope people will enjoy my work for a long time in the future.”


info@lemiswork.com © Kotomi 'Lemi' Conrad 2013-2015