Monday, September 13, 2010

Mokume-Gane - from sheath to shank.

Mokume-Gane is a metal forging technique originating in Japan that has seen a popular resurgence in the last decade.

Beginning in the late 1600's, the samurai sword began to evolve from being a tool used in battle to a symbol of an elite warrior class. The more elaborate the embellishments of the sword's handle and sheath, the greater the social standing of the owner.

Mokume-Gane was one form of embellishment - meaning wood grain metal - mokume is formed by the forging of various metals including gold, silver, copper, and an alloy of all three known as shakudo at various thicknesses.

Mokume-Gane Pendant by Pepe Fernandez

Patterning occurs when layers from within the billet are exposed, either by filling or chiseling away at the surface layers.
Mokume Gane Pendant by Pepe Fernandez

Until the late 1970's, Mokume-Gane was relatively unknown outside of Asia, and with Japan's movement away from traditional manufacturing techniques and a dwindling population of highly skilled artisans - this metal art form was almost lost.

Today however, artist from many disciplines use modern Mokume-Gane techniques to create a unique and distinctive aesthetic - no two Mokume-Gane pieces are ever exactly the same.

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