Natural hot springs at Beppu Spa, Japan – Ruth Tomlinson

Natural hot springs at Beppu Spa, Japan


An inspiring visit to some natural hot springs in Japan, gave me an insight into the way that sulphur is grown naturally in the landscape. I was particularly interested, because I use sulphur to oxidize some of the silver pieces in my Collections. Sulphur tarnishes the silver, giving the surface a dark ashen colour, which I think is beautiful - Below are two examples from the Flora and Encrustations Collections.

We visited an area famous for sulphur bathing pools, or ‘onsens’. People were advised to remove any silver jewellery before bathing because of these tarnishing effects! 

I looked closely at the crystalline texture of the rock surface and dry mud, with luminous growths of bright yellow sulphur emerging - the land seemed alive with steam and hot water. Formations in the rock seemed at once ancient and ever-changing. I loved the contrast of the dry, almost bleached grey and the vibrant acidity of the yellow. 

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