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Problem With Tsuba Color, What To Do?

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#1 Krystian


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Posted 07 December 2017 - 04:57 PM



I just bought this tsuba with nice flower pattern. But while carving looks great the color for me kills the effect. It looks for me like it is covered with extensive amount of oil? Or something different that add "sparkling" and black? Or this should look like that and something is wrong with me?
But If I am right and it is covered with something what to do to safely remove it? 
It has NTHK origami (don't know if is important)


Best Regards, 



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    Sai Jo Saku

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 05:15 PM


polished SHAKUDO TSUBA may look quite glossy if their surface is intact, but if this one is an iron TSUBA (it seems to be one), it might have been sprayed with clear paint. If so, it is a good candidate for an Acetone treatment. This powerful solvent will not attack the patina or the metal, but dissolve all kinds of paint.

Don't do this inside your house and use nitrile gloves as Acetone is harmful to your health. 


Jean C.

#3 John A Stuart

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 06:19 PM

Is this not the ibota treatment sometimes used to tart up some tosougu? John

#4 kissakai


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Posted 07 December 2017 - 07:03 PM


After trying 'This powerful solvent will not attack the patina or the metal, but dissolve all kinds of paint' and you find the colour wrong then it can be repatined by the likes of Ford Hallam or Kevin Adams

This looks a nice tsuba so worth the extra cost if you wish

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Grev UK

#5 vajo


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Posted 07 December 2017 - 08:11 PM

It's choji oil. In my eyes i see nothing bad.

Look at the rust in the carvings.

#6 rkg


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Posted 07 December 2017 - 09:59 PM



Been there, done that.  The short answer is that unless you've played with this stuff before/are willing to do some major repair work/send it off to somebody to fix the piece if you can't handle the issue(s) (which is not cheap), if you don't like the way it looks/think there's a problem with the piece DO NOT TOUCH IT -  just send it back to the seller if you can and get your money back...


Primped tsuba can be a nightmare, as you have generally no idea what is under the coating.  Sometimes the coating just oil or "clear" wax (which anybody can deal with using some care or just leave alone if you like the look/they didn't put it over active rust (diatribe omitted)), sometimes colored wax (usually hiding patina issues), and sometimes its top coat on a repatination job (which can range from acceptable/pretty good work (Skip Holbrook usually waxes his work, for example) to just utter hack jobs  (the worst is when they use modern chemicals and the  coating is holding in the refinery/selenium salt/etc smell - yuk)) - same with the harder coatings (lacqquers, varnishes, shellac, urethane coatings etc), though there is the added complication that sometimes the decoration on the piece is actually lacquered on and you really don't want to mess with that (here's an example of a piece where the "numome" surface is actually all lacquer:




That said, its hard to tell from the pics of your piece if it is just waxed or if they applied something else.  If you -really- want to go down the rabbit hole on this, its usually best to start out trying the least invasive things first so you can to see what is going on.  You might start out -very- cautiously, and try a q-tip with some 99% isopropyl alcohol on it on an inconspicuous spot - just be aware that you can quickly get into something waaay beyond your pay grade in terms of restoration work.


Good Luck,


(Richard George)

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#7 christianmalterre


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Posted 07 December 2017 - 11:11 PM

and again this "dubious" -"blackish" coat...... :o


seems they do love it ??????


excellent Video Rich! :thumbsup:



#8 Krystian


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Posted 08 December 2017 - 05:57 PM

Thank you all for comments. I took some close up pictures of the tsuba and for me it looks like there is "blackish" paint all over. Rust looks brown and in close up there are no "sharp" edges that I usually see on the rust. There are also some places with visible silver steel color and some places with strange red? So I think that black paint Is a cover for all of those problems. 
So thank you George for you comment, I think It saved me a lot of trouble. I decided not to touch this tsuba myself. I will think about sending it to an expert or maybe selling it as it is.
NTHK attributes It to Goto School so I am certain that there will be someone who will be happy to buy it regardless of the problems with patina.  
Once again thank you all for comments. This is an huge lesson for me to never buy something just because it has good attribution to It......

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#9 Pete Klein

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 07:58 PM

Old Showa 53 NTHK origami to Goto Seijou if I am reading the attribution correctly.  There were a number of artists with that name being Waki Goto school members.  


As for the patina I am leaning toward oil soaked but cannot say more without in hand inspection.  The hitsuana ume appear to be very well made.  

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