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kissakai
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Hi

I'm looking again at my tsuba and I'd like to learn more about the techniques used so there will be more examples

 

This one shows how high the form can be. The raised section is about 3mm higher than the general surface

This seems a massive amount of up raising up from the the base. I'm sure this is not in two sections

How easy would this be to achieve?

 

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Layering. Some tsuba were folded and some etched. Is there some general pointers to tell the difference between these types?

 

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Dear Grev.

For your last two images I think both are folded and then etched.  With a properly forged plate very little grain would be visible unless an etchant is used.  For the first image I would really like to see a view of the whole tsuba.  Often a piece of raised metal is inlayed into the plate and then the whole carved, if well done then no visible joint would be apparent.

 

I'm sure others will chime in .

 

All the best.

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Grev, watch the first of Ford Hallam's utsuri videos to see how the inlay is done, then finished to appear as though the inlay has always been part of the base plate.

 

As for the mokume (swirl), it's like Geraint said: folding metals of different types into a swirl like a jelly-roll, then etching it. The softer steel will get eaten away faster than the harder steel to leave the visible highs and lows of the swirl.

 

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This wood grain tsuba is one of my favorites. Looks to me like the smith layered the different metals like stacked sheets (rather than a swirl like yours) and probably purposefully left the edges a little lose, ie not hammered enough to have the layers set completely, in order to get this "extra flaky" look on the edges. I'm guessing the front and back surfaces were chiseled to add more of a "wood grain" look, then the whole thing would have been etched in acid. 

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Another one of my favorites:

This one was done with the "jelly roll" technique, but the smith made it extra thick so he could carve 3D cherry blossoms  that sit above the etched base.

You can see the swirled "grain" of the mokume runs through the cherry blossoms, so this is all one piece, with no inlays.

I'm guessing the smith must have covered the blossoms with some sort clay or wax before etching in acid so that the blossoms stayed smooth while the plate below got etched to reveal the swirl. 

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Hi Grev,

I suppose you already know the two review papers here below. Anyway it could be useful remind them for other interested people.
Bye, Mauro

https://www.dropbox.com/s/8bps54bs4whi60t/The Techniques of the Japanese Tsuba-Maker.pdf?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/bilgfen2qcatn1i/Tecniche di decorazione di tsuba giapponesi e loro terminologia - M. Dziewulski.pdf?dl=0

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Very interesting articles Mauro.

 

But what about :  " There are in the Bigelow collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, a number of tsuba, the integrity of which had been ruined in the 1880's by a thief, in an attempt to remove the shakudo and gold inlay".

 

Does someone knows more about the story? Why to have removed soft inlays only and left the iron plate  in place.  Being a thief, I would have taken the entire tsuba et peacefully, at home, remove the gold.

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17 hours ago, GRC said:

....As for the mokume (swirl), it's like Geraint said: folding metals of different types into a swirl like a jelly-roll, then etching it. The softer steel will get eaten away faster than the harder steel to leave the visible highs and lows of the swirl.

 

Glen,

this has nothing to do with 'soft' or 'hard'. The carbon containing parts are more easily attacked by the acid than the pure iron parts.

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23 hours ago, kissakai said:

.....This one shows how high the form can be. The raised section is about 3mm higher than the general surface....

 

Height.thumb.JPG.2bf7c01b0551cc78a7f381ea52ef9156.JPG

 

Hi Grev,

the TSUBA might as well be a cast one which would explain the differences. Better photos might reveal that.

Generally, all steel TSUBA (and other items) were made from folded steel. It was the necessary method to purify and homogenize the (rather impure) basic material. After a chemical treatment, the surface could display this MOKUME look. 

Some TSUBA makers (look at HIGO) wanted a smooth and even surface, so they increased the number of foldings and achieved a very homogeneous steel which was then ground and polished (MIGAKI).  

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Just adding some pics of lost inlays from one nara and two heianjo (maybe one kaga?) tsuba.

The nara smith made a deep pocket and a larger shallow pocket for the inlay of a stone by a stream.

The heianjo smiths all seemed to opt for shallow pockets for inlays.

Maybe that's why the heianjo tsuba seldom have all their inlays still intact? 

missing inlay heianjo -1.jpg

missing inlay heianjo -2.jpg

missing inlay heianjo -3.jpg

missing inlay nara -1.jpg

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Jean, thanks for that correction about which metal would would get eaten away faster by acid etching.

I haven't tried it yet so I actually made the assumption the softer low carbon steel would get etched faster.

I'm going to look into that for sure and try to get more info on it.

Always more to learn... but that's what keeps it interesting :)

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yup, that's the one :)

 

I have only been at this tsuba collecting obsession for about two months now after a series of chance events that led me to meet a sword collector. He had a bunch of tsuba as well and that opened up this whole new world of amazing metalwork to me.

ever since then I've been gathering up as  many images and information as I can.

Yahoo Japan is my go-to because of the thousands of tsuba they have up on offer each week.  

I also keep images of the ones with stuff missing so I can gain some insight into how different schools did their inlays.

So this techniques thread by Grev grabbed my attention right away.

 

I'm going to start dabbling in inlaying soon so I can add little accent touches (like dewdrops and leaf veining) in my blacksmithing projects.

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Glen

Ah so it was you who got that little square mokume, I was looking at that one myself! 

The other example from above passed in https://www.jauce.com/auction/w448276204

Jauce is my hunting ground too - not fond of their fee structure but as you say thousands of choices every week.

 

Getting back to the original thread [sorry Grev] I notice from the side view image that the rim thins out near the raised decoration, is this so? It would explain how the guard was carved down from a thinner plate than it optically appears, to a large extent. Nothing wrong with a cast plate that is carved and reworked.

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Regarding etching, I tried searching a bunch of different ways to find more information about which metals will etch more easily.

I found a few things that I could make inferences from but nothing "scholarly" that was crystal clear and answered the question directly.

 

I decided to ask a metal etching company called Qualitetch that offers multiple etching methods for just about any steel or alloy.

Here's the response I got:

"Many thanks for your enquiry. Mild steel will etch more readily than it’s high carbon counterpart."

 

 

Then I also found this from a machinist message board with a thread about etching steels (see attached image):

 

If anyone has any other info on this, please feel free to share.

 

 

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Thanks for your links and comments:

When I asked about layering I wasn't too clear with my question

On both examples I couldn't see any indication of layering through the side view of any ana so I thought the mokume was achieved thro etching and not layered

I see what is meant by deceptive thinning and in part this is a true statement

I put the raised side on a flat surface and looked at the gap which appears around 2mm so 1mm less than measures

 

FYI

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