Mokume gane cherry blossom tsuba
This tsuba is inspired by of one of the most well-known mokume gane tsubas in history - the Yoshino River Tsuba made by Takahashi Okitsugu in the mid-late Edo period in Japan. I used different metals (copper, brass and nickel silver), and a silhouette of my own design; five-lobed rather than 8-lobed. It took me about two years to create, and is just a first draft. Next one will be made with silver, shakudo and shibuichi.
From my very first billets, I always wanted to create crisp, unique mokume patterns with great control. This was different from a lot of the fairly random, all-over stuff I was seeing. It was in Masaki Takahashi's "Textbook of Mokume Gane" book that I was first introduced to the historical work of Takahashi Okitsugu - I saw it was possible to create such patterns, so I had a goal. I did a lot of experimentation, and came up with two ways to do the cherry blossom pattern, one easier than the other. I teach the easier way in my in-person mokume gane workshops, but here I'm using the more difficult chisel method (see the photo captions for copious technical notes). Creating the pattern once on a test piece was one thing, but to do it on the scale of a tsuba was another thing entirely. It took a lot of math to figure out how many layers, what thickness/size, what thickness to start patterning so the pattern would be flat and finished at 3mm on a piece of metal large enough for a tsuba.
Making the actual tsuba was a change of pace, with patient sawing, filing and finishing taking the place of all the chiseling. It is only my second tsuba, and I owe many thanks to Ford Hallam for his expert training and advice, both in person and on his invaluable patreon channel. I'm not sure where I'm going next; but I know it is not making swords! People keep suggesting that, and I think it is hilarious. It took me so long to get good at what I do; bladesmithing is a completely different field. I know many bladesmiths out there who have worked hard to be top of their craft - I'll let them do that, and I'll continue to refine my skills in my own little corner of the craft world.
Check out the photo captions if you're interested in the process, and please feel free to comment/ask questions.
1/11/2023 12:07:28 am
walking through this process is so enlightening. i am intimidated by your quest for "crisp, unique mokume patterns with great control" given that mine are so willy-nilly. And that is why i seek out your mokume mentorship whenever i can!
1/11/2023 09:22:50 am
Wow! What a beautiful tsuba with a delightfully pleasing esthetic composition. This piece clearly took careful planning. The masterful pattern is also done in a difficult combination of alloys. And to top it off, it has a great patina. We anxiously await the silver, shakudo, and shibuichi version.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
Educator, metalsmith, jeweler, maker of custom mokume gane jewelry and wedding rings.