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Some other fittings


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Hello guys and gals,

 

Ive been locked away in my shop for a while, but I have been keeping an eye on the forum. you all are doing a great job, and great contributions.

 

here is a set that just finished up. its made with 15% shibuichi,copper,silver, and shakudo.

 

Please be thorough in your critique my work.

 

 

Samuel

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Aloha Samuel,

 

I have been enjoying your fuchi/kashira set. To me, the butterfly and chrysanthemum motif is classic. Please tell me a little more about it. The butterflies are shakudo and silver? Inlaid? The body being shibuichi? Your alloy? And the texture?

 

KC

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Hi Sam,

I am sure Ford will have some meaningful comments, but Since it is and open invitation I will add my two cents.

I am very impressed with the overall shaping of the parts. I am big on textures in my martial art grade work. They provide a practical solution to the heavy patina wear the parts will see. It is also an economical way to finish the ground when compared to Polishing. In this case with the delicate flowing details I would have to say the texture is too course. I find my eyes drawn to the texture and the flowers being overwhelmed. A softer or finer texture would help with this. The Shoulder on the Kashira is a bit ragged a finer softer texture will allow you to keep the shoulder more refined. I might also suggest a wiping the flowers with black Sumie ink. This will stay in the deeper detail and provide some contrast and add depth. It might help bring the flowers to life. Ford showed me the Ink technique. I have some pine trees I did in brass with an ink wash over the patina. The patina only gets so dark and in many antiques you will note black in the details of a piece that otherwise light colored patina. The ink is very stable and lasts virtually forever.

Nice work,

Patrick

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Aloha Karl,

 

I supose it would be rather helpful for me to flesh it out a bit,, The primary metal is some shibuichi that I alloyed, it was made with new drawn copper pipe and fine silver, I cast the ingots (2) into a sooted metal ingot mold , the melt was made using an oxy -fuel torch, in a ceramic crucible. I tried water casting but it seemed like i lost a ton of material to shaping and it didnt seem very clean, I admitedly only tried twice. when casting into the metal mold the ingots came out clean , scale free and easy to examine for flaws. also you can see the litteral grain of the metal , if its to big I just recast. it ( the meatl ingot mold) is what I learned to work with in the jewelry trade. The butterflies in silver and shakudo were inlaid,dovetailed in. the butterflies in shibuichi were punched up from behind and then carved in. I thought that there would be more contrast in the shibuichi flower and butterflies as opposed to the background , which was done with two different sized round point single punches.

 

 

 

 

Samuel

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Aloha Samuel,

 

Appreciate the quick reply. First, the disclaimers - I am not a tsuba guy and I take your request for critique to heart. I agree with Patrick on several points. The texture does overwhelm the detail to a certain extent and also results in that rough edge, which caught my eye. Perhaps you can try some other ground. I have a kashira with nanako texture that I admire. It takes discipline.

In light of our discussions re:shibuichi, that seems risky to recast. As long as the result is satisfactory. I'm still liking the design. :D

 

KC

 

Patrick, neat trick with the sumi ink.

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Hi Samuel,

 

Speaking as a sculptor who is inspired by Japanese design, bud does not use Japanese techniques or materials, I really like these pieces. I think the textured background has a nice fresh look. I do appreciate Patrick and Karl's comments though. It is always hard to interpret any work like this through photographs, especially when they are over-sized and well-lit, and I suspect that there is more contrast between the background and the floral designs in person.

 

I do like the ink idea. It could produce some interesting results on these pieces. I would like to learn more of this techniqiue.

 

Phil

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Guest ford hallam

Hi Samuel

 

It's great to see yet more people taking up the chisel. Is this your first attempt at using Japanese processes?

 

As has already been pointed out, you've done a great job of making the basic pieces. I'd use the term "workman-like" to describe this sort of precise and skilful construction. For myself getting the foundation square, so to speak, is always a good start. The shitodo-me ( the little gold, oval inserts on the kashira, for non-sword folks ) are nicely formed and fit the curve beautifully. You've used a well formed oval as your template, I see far to many "ill-formed" ovals, what my mother calls "unhappy" :lol: shapes. The nakago-ana is also well shaped. Personally, I dislike the tendency to make this hole, that receives the tang, appear mechanically made. Sometimes I wonder if the tendency of many contemporary Japanese makers to resort to such rigid, "engineered" holes is due to a lack of confidence in their own ability to create a more gentle form. These apparently minor details may not at first seem all that important but I think they all add a lot to the overall feeling of the finished item.

 

Patrick made an important observation regarding the texture in relation to the decoration and his feeling that the texture could have been finer in relation to the carving is probably spot on. I think that my "solution" would be the opposite though, but would require more inlay technique. Personally,I thought the texture was fine. I liked the way that it was very clearly thoroughly applied. Some textured finishes like this often leave me feeling that they were put on as quickly as possible and as an easy ground cover, without really trying to develop an integrated surface that has some integrity. I hope that makes sense.

 

Your design itself is perfectly pleasing and has a good balance to it as well as showing a decent use of space.

I do think the flowers are a little confusing though. I can see what they are but at this scale I think we have to be very careful to keep the elements simple enough to be "read" clearly. The flowers are too shallow to stand out against the ground. I would have rendered them in relief inlay and probably in silver. They are the focal point of your design but they don't catch my eye boldly enough. In relation to the carving you have done I would suggest ever so gently softening the edges, as they are, it "feels" a little too crisp to be comfortable. The tendril on the side of the fuchi could actually be completely rounded.

One last point would be to make that blade of grass on the kashira stand out too. It almost cries out to be rendered in gold, copper or shakudo, and in high relief. It's probably also a good idea to have patinated samples of all the alloys you have, so that you can more easily make your decisions regarding colour while designing your work.

 

On the whole though, I think this is a damn good result, certainly better than anything I produced when I got started. :D I would also add that attempting a relatively shallow relief, in essentially one colour, is extremely tricky. The delicacy and subtlety required to effectively pull it off is such that only the great masters really achieve it. Sugiura Joi, one of the 3 great Nara masters would be worth looking at.

 

I know I have been very direct in my comments and that much of what I've written you are probably already aware of, however, there may be others who may be contemplating trying their hands at this too so I've tried to consider all the angles. I'm also very aware that I have a vast range of technique to choose from and a pretty complete pallet of alloys at hand, while many of you, at this point, will still be getting the basics together. Never the less, I think it important to be aware of the possibilities this tradition offers and I'll keep doing my best to keep the tutorials coming. My own site is now very nearly ready and will launch with a couple or more foundational tutorials which I hope will really help get the ball rolling for many of you.

 

I do hope what I've written is of some use and is constructive.

 

Namaste, Ford

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Samuel,

 

I'm not an expert the finer points of Japanese sword fittings and their decoration, so I won't comment on the accuracy of your parts other than to say they LOOK accurate to me. I will say, though, that they are gorgeous! I happen to like textures, so they appeal to me.

 

They make me miss having not made a Japanese style knife in many years!

 

David

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Hello Samuel,

 

Thank you for posting the good images of your new work.

 

After having another look at the elements in the design, and this time ecognizing the blade of grass that Ford pointed out, I have a little to say about that blade of grass. I am not a metals person, but I work with similar design considerations when carving relief on wood or other materials.

 

The channels on either side of the blade of grass exist only to separate the blade of grass from the textured background. That design element, though they are a non- or distracting element, bear no relationship to any other part of the composition. Ford's encouragement to make the blade stand out is to be echoed by me. The simplest at this point (perhaps) would be to bring the background texture right up to the grass, perhaps with a very fine line around it, a hair's breadth if at all, to create a slight shadow or defining element. The trouble with that is that I think that the background and blade of grass are on the same plane (the channels having been excised), so perhaps that may not be a solution. The other possible solution might be to make the blade an excision with the background texturing right up to the blade, which would make the blade recede into the background. Such an element would add a sense of depth; foreground with the flowers and butterfly, middle ground as the textured ground, and the blade into the background, and strengthen its addition to the overall design of the decorative elements.

 

Janel

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Aloha Samuel,

 

Apologies if my comments seemed harsh. :( Phil's observations may be spot on; I may be looking and not seeing. Ford and Janel's thoughtful and measured comments have me re-evaluating how I respond.

Would you mind telling me about some of the thought processes that led you to your decisions? And perhaps indulge same with a touch (reversible) of sumi? I am curious.

 

KC

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Well gosh , that gives me alot of great feed back!. I must say I am not sure if I can addres each of these critiques individually so I will try to blanket them all with a few short statements

 

I will apply sumi and rephoto,

 

The texture was an afterthought, the "original" plan was for a polished background, which worked alright but after the first patina things seemed too even, then I went in and did some very fine shading in the flowers and around them with a needle punch , which added texture but didnt seem to darken as much as I wanted when I repatinated , then I expaned the texture to jsut aound the flowers but it was just not quite right so I tried to evenly texture the background to provide contrast with the burnished petals fo the flowers, the punch was frosted, but the prepreation for the final patina seemed to polish that away and also the rokusho bath seems to have a very mild polishing affect in itself , It would seem as though I lost alot if not all of the frosting.

 

some of the details in the flowers are quite small and didnt show well in the scaled down photos

 

It seems strange to say this but this is my first matched set, although I cut it in my head many times . I have had a bit of exposure to Sword fittigs though, I mostly took careful note as to what sepperated the various levels of work. and tried to flow the path of ( what I thought was) " the best" which is a whole different argument/study/opinion/ forum. :(

 

I used a couple of chisels , I dont have pics but I may take some, essentially I used 3 flats, 2 flats with a rounded heel, 3 square gravers , a large round graver, and 3 sizes of punches, as well as a very small triange shaped carving tool.

 

this is as far as I feel i can take these, its time to move on to the next project. I think that I will make a new ingot mold , they are darned expensive and not quite the right shape for this work, I have to cast an absolutly perfect ingot top to bottom to have enough material for a fuchi, a little thicker and longer of an ingot would be nice to start with.

 

talk with you soon

 

thanks for the help

 

Samuel

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Guest ford hallam

just to add a little bit of reference material in terms of well made fuchi/kashira you may be interested to study this set. Really nicely photographed and loads of very fine points to savour. Enjoy. :(

 

Here's the link

 

Ford

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