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Francis Gastellu

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Everything posted by Francis Gastellu

  1. Thank you Janel! There is a little silver insert on each side, they are "menuki" in the shape of Japanese war arrows. The menuki are little ornaments that are traditionally attached to this style of handles either through or behind the cord/ito (same as on katana handles for instance). They are supposed to improve the grip somehow, but they often tend to be a bit bulky for my taste, which can become awkward to hold. For this reason I always try to make a fairly narrow and thin set of menuki, which still fulfills the aesthetic function but doesn't bulk up the handle too much. I originally struggled to pick a theme for them. I chose war arrows because the ginkgo leaf is (among other things) a symbol of peace. I liked the balance this brought since after all, the price of peace is often and unfortunately war. Thank you Jim 🙏 This felt like progress
  2. Thank you Pavel and Janel! Here's a few photos of the finished item: Take care and be safe!
  3. I've been working on the fittings for a tanto knife, and I thought I would post my progress. These are very simple carvings and more of an excuse to practice inlays. My focus is on reducing the need for cleanup after the inlay work by doing cleaner work in the first place Ura side: Omote side: The fittings are copper and the inlays are shibuichi (40/60). Looking at these now, they're a little bit more proud than I'd like (again... though better than in the past 😉). I'm quite happy with the inlay work itself, it's probably the least amount of cleanup I've ever had to do on a piece, and it went a lot faster. Still looking at the design for the kashira but I'll post back here once it's done. Cheers, and have a wonderful week!
  4. Very nice! I love the attention to detail all the way down to the little flowers on the shoes Nicely done.
  5. I finished the larger piece today and after patinating it, I found the fully dark-grey butterfly to be way too dull. I pondered this for a bit, considered masking as Janel had suggested but for the reasons above chose to experiment with another method instead: I used a rotary polisher at very low speed and carefully backed up the patina on the outside of the wings and on the body. I then gave the piece a very light baking soda finger rub and returned it to the solution. Total time in the bath was about 1h (40m + 20m) It sort of worked. It's not as clean as I had hoped, and might prompt me to redo the patina eventually if i figure out a cleaner process, but it's definitely more pleasing than the solid grey that ended up hiding a lot of the details (I wish I had taken a photo for comparison). As always with rokusho patina the color depends on the light, so the two parts contrast different ways, from just a shade like the photo above to a tinge of olivine/brown in the outer wings like the photo below. Stem is 40% silver shibuichi, butterfly is 20%, cattail body is copper, spike is 24k gold and background is reclaimed 950 sterling. Interestingly the copper came out a lot redder than in my previous runs. It's nowhere near the "elusive" rich red people talk about but it's a lot redder than I've gotten before. I am wondering if the pause in the process contributed to this. I'll have to add this to the list of rokusho mysteries to investigate. This was a gift for my better half, and in spite of several issues/mistakes that I have immense difficulty not seeing, she seems to like it Here are a few more photos of my clumsy process if anyone is interested: https://imgur.com/a/K5iCWdW -- feel free to critique, I am quite new at this and can use any and all advice. I sure know already that my lack of finesse or planning is sometimes causing me to have to do a lot more cleanup than I should need to
  6. I do believe it's possible, but it seems challenging (to me at least) when we are talking about rokusho-based patina, because of the specific process that it calls for. Specifically, if an area is masked before the fine polishing step, it would need to be fairly resistant to abrasion. If done after the polishing step, the challenge would be to apply the mask while keeping the rest of the piece pristine. My understanding is that there needs to be as little time as possible between polishing and daikon bath, and similarly between daikon and niage bath. And of course the masking technique needs to resist prolonged immersion in the niage. I'm thinking shellac or jewelry coating might do the trick, though I'm unsure how abrasive resistant this would be. The other solution would be flush inlays. I was originally focusing on the carving practice so I didn't think of it, but that would have been good practice as well!
  7. I did some tests today with several different alloys in an old solution (used on 3 previous occasions, initially 4g rokusho, 4g copper sulfate, a pinch of borax and one of alum). The pieces were: - 260 Brass: 70% Cu + 30% Zn - 230 Brass ("NuGold"): 85% Cu + 15% Zn - Nickel silver: 60% Cu, 20% Ni, 20% Zn - C145 copper: 99.4% Cu, 0.01% P, 0.6% Te ...as well as what was probably a mistake, which I only realized after the fact: - 954 Bronze: 86% Cu, 10% Al, 4% Fe (!) I didn't realize the bronze I had was aluminum bronze, which contains iron, known to ruin the niage bath. I had not planned to reuse the solution for anything after that, but it's likely to have changed the effect on the other alloys, rendering this whole test dubious. This is still an experiment I suppose, so for the record, here were the results: From left to right: - copper got substantially darker in 1h than in my previous experience, and has a *very slight* blueish tinge when viewed in the shade - 230 brass immediately went blue/grey, and shifted to nutty brown in about 20m with little change after that (just a bit more saturation) - nickel silver was similar to 230 brass for a good while, but ended up somewhat reinforcing its blue tinge over time, resulting in a brown that tends toward bordeaux (quite pronounced when viewed in the shade). - 260 brass went from yellow to orange, with a really satisfying tone at about 30/40m, then slowly got darker and closer to 230 brass, only slightly more redish. - 954 bronze did its own thing: it was entirely unaffected by the first 20m and then developed a yellow/orange color. Though the blotchiness is likely my fault for not polishing well enough, i suspect the "bubbles" are casting defects. It's pretty much impossible to take a photo that accurately portrays the colors the eye sees under different conditions, so here's another one with different shades while the pieces were still in the cooling water bath: For reference, here are the unpatinated alloys: I'll be trying some of these again in a more controlled run (new niage bath, no iron, and C110 copper instead of C145 for a better baseline). It'll be interesting to see the difference when iron isn't added to the mix
  8. Thank you Jim, so much to learn and I should probably pace myself a little bit Agreed. For the piece I am working on now, I am combining what I've used in the past with shibuichi 40/60, which I haven't used before. It's one thing to think "light gray" and "dark grey", but it will be interesting to have a piece that actually shows them both in contrast to each other, and to silver. I should be able to do some patination tests this weekend on a number of additional alloys, I'll report my "findings" here. Perhaps this thread can continue to capture more of my notes in the future, as well as comments from anyone else who's knowledgeable and/or interested.
  9. I had some fun trying to carve a swallowtail butterfly at about 1/7th of its actual size Originally just a practice piece, I'm now looking to inlay this into a larger composition. This is shibuichi 20/80, so should patinate fairly dark. Cheers!
  10. Being fairly new to irogane and rokusho patination, I'm trying to get some understanding of the basic color palette that is available to me when planning a composition. Although I have been able to find some good information here and on other sites, I was hoping that people with more experience could fill in some of the gaps in my understanding (or correct it if it is wrong!). I only have (limited) experience with copper, 20/80 shibuichi, fine silver and 24k gold. My current notes have the following: - Copper will shift color from orange to brown and eventually to red given enough time (~8/10h). I have gotten good orange with as little as 30m, and a (still orange-ish but) decent brown after 1h. I have not chased after the elusive red just yet. - Shibuichi will give light grey to dark grey depending on copper/silver ratio, and takes about 25/30m. I have only used 20% silver so far, and gotten quite a dark shade. My understanding is that increasing the silver content yields a lighter color. In addition, Jim Kelso details here a process of silver enrichment, which can achieve gradients between light and dark areas on shibuichi. - Fine silver will not change color, but may develop a yellow film on the surface after some time. A pinch of alum can help avoid this according to some sources, though I have at least once seen this film form regardless (as I said, I'm new at this, and so is my copper pot!) - 24K gold will not change color, I do not know about lower karat. - Shakudo (no personal experience) will go black with a deep purple hue at around 1h. I have found little information about rokusho on brass or bronze. I plan on experimenting some (including non-traditional alloys such as nickel-silver), but an idea of what to expect would be useful as a point of comparison. I have heard that one should use a separate niage batch to patinate brass, but I have not heard why (I imagine this is due to the Zn and also applies to other Zn-containing alloys, but I don't know what that actually does to the solution and why it should be a separate batch). In addition, this would seem to preclude patinating a multi-alloy piece (say, shibuichi + copper + brass); is this simply not done? I'm also quite intrigued by the silver enrichment process for shibuichi, though it's unclear to me how the enriched layer is preserved given that the patination process begins with polishing the entire piece (abrasive powders, and/or charcoal). I am guessing that the polishing step can leave enough of the enriched layer alone to still achieve the desired result, and that experience teaches how deep that layer goes for a given amount of heating/pickling cycles (and I suppose for a given silver/copper ratio). I'm also wondering if a similar process can be used on other copper alloys: if oxidation mostly affects copper, then brass/bronze, and even shakudo may also be affected in a similar way, perhaps yielding useful color gradients? Finally, am I missing some of the basic colors in the palette? For instance, I really really wish I could achieve some form of green (i believe I could with different chemicals than rokusho, but combining that with rokusho-based colors would seem extremely challenging if not downright impossible) Any information/correction on any of the above would be immensely appreciated. Cheers!
  11. I'm sure someone with more experience could comment, but I've seen these on wood and metal alike. From what I can tell, changing the angle of the file and/or the pressure tends to make those go away, and I my feeling is that this happens when (even a slight) chatter and the angle of the file teeth get together "in phase". Caveat: I don't really know what I'm talking about
  12. I am so glad he did. Both forums are incredible resources, even for people like me who are a little late to the party. Thank you!
  13. Thank you so much Ed! Here's the tsuba mounted on the sword. There are a couple more carved/inlaid elements: For anyone interested in the other aspects of the build, see this thread (in another forum, I hope that's okay to link to). Cheers!
  14. Unless the other three sides all have 1's, it seems to me there really are only winners Love the concept I really like those little carvings!
  15. Thank you both for the very kind words!
  16. Thank you so much for the advice. I have this kind of wheels but did not think about using them that way! I've used bullet point silicone rotary polishers with good results, but it took me some time to accept that using them for this purpose with the rotary tool, even at slow speed, was just asking for trouble
  17. I've recently completed a japanese blade, and I thought I'd share the tsuba (guard) here. It's the first time I do this kind of inlay on that scale. The young vs old bamboo dichotomy symbolizes growth, while the waning and waxing moon stand for the opening and closing chapters of our lives. I spent most of the time on the obverse side with its many inlays, and I made more than a few mistakes. There are still visible signs of my crimes, but I'm (mostly) okay with where I ended up. The reverse side features a simple katakiri carving. It doesn't look like much, but balance and confidence in the cuts were my main goal. I practiced many times before I let myself do it on the real piece. This version turned out better than any of my practice run These photos were taken just after the patination bath in roksuho. Cheers!
  18. Beautiful tools! Thank you for sharing.
  19. Such lovely work, I love the simplicity and the elegance of both the carving and the painting! Thank you so much for sharing the additional photos
  20. This was intriguing enough that I bought myself a copy, perhaps this is the beginning of a new adventure for me, thank you
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