Michael Yu

Metalsmith specialized in Galvanized Iron

Master Michael Yu has been engaged in the galvanized iron industry for over thirty years, mainly making air conditioning ducts for a living in the beginning. Starting in 2010, he began exploring the use of galvanized iron to create unique crafts and daily necessities. In his spare time, he co-organizes workshops with different organizations, mainly teaching the making of traditional mailboxes to promote and revitalize the craft of galvanized iron.

The Process

The installation combines contemporary parametric design with seven traditional galvanized iron craft techniques – drawing, marking, cutting, wrapping, folding, flattening and buckling. 


From his design sketches, Gamzar used three-dimensional design software to configure and simulate the structure of the work. By changing the parameters, Gamzar could easily adjust each component’s size to digitally visualize the design, while discussing the feasibility with Master Yu simultaneously.


While traditional techniques involve sketching on the metal with a snow piton, Gamzar had printed out his designs for tracing the outlines and joints on the metal instead. The metal was then trimmed with straight-cutting or arch-cutting snips accordingly. This process must be precisely controlled to achieve the desired effect.


Once trimmed all the components and after several rounds of experimentation, Master Yu and Gamzar determined the sequence and direction of buckling, including ways of folding and closing. Following the alignment of all components, they proceeded to create the ideal buckling structure by folding and hammering.


Wired edges were added to the tops and bottoms of each component before the process known as buckling. It is a technique that connects all components with a hammer. Buckling can be categorized based on the position of the joints: sheet connection and corner connection. Sheet connection includes cap strip seam, flat lock seam and single and double hem, which connects flat surfaces; corner connection includes Pittsburgh lock and wired edge, which connects corners.


Through the collaborative work of Gamzar’s creative designs and Master Yu’s skillful technique, twelve galvanized iron components were assembled into a set of three accordion-shaped artwork. 

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