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Jim Kelso

Engraved Heron wip

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I have wanted to use a heron theme for some time. Inspired by one of my favorite herons in metal by the great Shoami Katsuyoshi ,I “borrowed” his design and am applying it to a fan shaped pin in shibuichi using shishiai-bori(below-surface relief) a similar technique as the carved wood bat of recent times.

 

The Katsuyoshi piece is takazogan (raised inlay) on a kogo(incense container) and is a fair bit larger. This sort of borrowing of successful designs, either from other metalworks or paintings, is not frowned upon in Japan. I think that as long as full credit is given where due, it is actually a tip of the hat to the original artist. I would, of course, never presume to pull it off as successfully as Shoami Katsuyoshi.

 

Here is the original kogo courtesy of Kagedo Gallery in Seattle.

 

KatsuyoshiHeronKogo copy 2.jpg

 

And here's the design process for this piece. I scaled down a photo so the profile fit the pin area in a pleasing way. I made a thin mylar template from the scaled photo which allows me to find the exact placement on the pin and locate the outline. When engraving I almost always draw directly on the metal using a pattern such as this to transfer from a drawing. The metal is lightly sand-blasted with 800g alum/oxide. Enough tooth to draw on but can also be easily polished.

 

IMGP4810.jpg

 

After the main lines are scribed, I finish drawing the essential elements of the design such as wings, eye, beak and legs, to make sure all are working together.

 

IMGP4811.jpg

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That too is one of my favourite works by Katsuyoshi.

 

I hope you will pull it off. We believe in you ;)

 

You probably have seen this in person so maybe you can answer the following. Basically from where I stand I can see the top of the tail feathers don't look to be inlaid at all but rather carved in the shibuichi background. The reason I ask is because you seem to have made the choice to treat it as part of the zogan fillet. Also, are the legs shakudo? they have a funny tone to them, unless it be kuro-shibuichi?

 

Needless to say I am looking forward to the WIP and its completion. :)

Edited by Hÿllyn
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Jim

 

Thanks for the comment on my eagle carving. I am really starting to get more involved in carving on my knives so I am looking forward to seeing your progress on this Heron. It looks complex It will be nice to see the steps. Thanks for sharing.

 

Kip Kaiser

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Thanks very much Kip and Hyllyn.

Hyllyn, unfortunately I haven’t seen that piece in person, but you’re right, the tail feathers top-side are light engraving into the ground. This is seen often in combination with high-relief work and the contrast is very effective at suggesting depth. As you’ll see later, I’m going to use a similar approach. The only inlay I’ll be doing is a gold eye.

 

The notes from Kagedo indicate the original piece is shibuichi with the heron in inlaid pure silver with a gold eye and shakudo legs. I think the color variance on the one leg and foot is from light wear.

 

Here is a photo of the two chisels, I think made from M2 drill-rod, I used in the next few photos. All lines were cut with the lower point onglette. The relief carving was done with the top chisel. This chisel relates to the Japanese shishiai-bori form and is designed so that, with the top arc curving away from the edge, you can remove material with little danger of nicking current cuts such as the outlines of the heron design. I improvised this chisel years ago before I knew of “shishiai-bori”. It’s nothing more than an obvious practical solution to a particular tool-use situation. The edge is also curved slightly like a gouge and also side to side, so like a bull-nose gouge. Japanese woodcarvers use a bull-nose chisel too which I haven’t seen in European woodcarving tools. It seems to allow a little more control in not leaving sharp edge cuts when doing this type of relief work, and helps getting into corners.

 

IMGP5107PSEweb.jpg

 

Here I have made the first three cuts. I try to make some of the most critical cuts right out of the gate. Getting the beak and the head shape established takes the pressure off and makes the rest of it more fun!

 

IMGP4812.jpg

 

Here I have cut the outline, established the wings and begun the relief work. I am using the Lindsay AirGraver Classic to push the chisels. They can also be struck with a hammer.

IMGP4848.jpg

Edited by Jim Kelso

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Love it ! wow

 

looking at the top pic.. i see abit of grain on the background.... is that similar to the vase you made?.. wish i had a close up

 

marvelous, i can see you doing this one well

 

Greg ;)

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Jim - I could not, in a hundred years, ever develop talent with the carving arts.

 

But - i want you to know that viewing your work always gives me a feeling of peace and serenity. Thank you for sharing so much of the process. It only makes the finished work even more impressive.

 

take care,

kc

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Thanks very much guys.

 

Greg, it does look nicely grained in the Katsuyoshi piece. I would love to have higher resolution photos of that to see what's grain and what's chased texture. The photo you see is the same size as I have. :(

 

 

The next step on the heron was to blend the wing shapes into pleasing contours and to smooth the carving where relief was chiseled. This was done by stoning.

 

This photo shows a Gesswein Moldmaker 320 g in action. Natural stones such as the Water Of Ayr, Tam O’ Shanter Scotch stones are very pleasing to use but are in short supply, expensive and are only found in a narrow range of fineness (600-800 or so). The Gesswein stones are quite effective for me from 320-1200 in the usual grit jumps. They recommend oil as a lubricant but I think this is because they are probably mostly used on ferrous metals. I use water which works fine. Oil is anathema to the patina process and I try to keep it out of my work area as much as possible.

 

IMGP4849_2.jpg

 

After stoning to 400 g this is how it looks. I lightly sand-blast after every step. I find that evening out the light this way really helps to see how progress is going without distracting highlights. There is clearly more work to do polishing but at this point I am just trying to get the shaping right.

 

IMGP4850.jpg

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Jim - I could not, in a hundred years, ever develop talent with the carving arts.

 

 

Kevin, thanks very much for your comments but I have the same reaction to your reticence about carving as I do to those who say they can't draw. Certainly talent plays a role but I think everyone can draw and improve their drawing if they want to badly enough to make it a priority and work at it. The same for carving. I do understand that we have to make choices about how to spend our time. Belief in your ability or lack thereof is a powerful thing.

 

Go for it!

 

Jim

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Jim - I understand your point. You don't want to discourage people or have people become discouraged because carving seems difficult for some at first. If I put as much effort into carving as I do into learning to forge, grind, file, etc., then surely I would develop some ability.

 

I can't quote this properly, but one of the more renowned bladesmiths of the generation that includes Don and JD wrote somewhere that almost every, "first knife" he ever saw was pretty ugly (especially his own). No one is immediately good at bladesmithing, but you can see by looking around that a number of people have become very good through hard work. I guess the same thing may apply to carving, at least in general.

 

take care,

kc

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Rock on Jim!!!

 

Looking good. Take your time, get in the zone. Be the bird. :D

 

Have fun, Mark

 

Got to love shibuichi. my fave!!!!

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Belief in your ability or lack thereof is a powerful thing.

I was very promising at pen and ink drawing in H.S., and for several years afterwards before the stress of kids, work, and life in general ended my enthusiasm and imagination for it. I was, and still am good at calligraphy (mainly insular script, and uncial), and I could probably be better at metal carving than I'll ever be at bladesmithing. But... my problem has always been one of temper, not lack of confidence in my abilities.

 

Because of the amount of time involved, one mistake with calligraphy, or a pen and ink drawing, and I'll get pissed and destroy whatever I was working on. After that, I'll go weeks, or even months without attempting it again. It's been at least a year since I last did any calligraphy. I know that even though I possess many of the skills required for carving metal, I would have the same problem with it. One mistake, and it would end up bouncing off the concrete in my shop. And if it happened in the final stages of the work, I would be so disgusted with myself, I would probably never try it again.

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Sean, Those are things that I have trouble with as well. Patients, is another. But, I have learned to let myself become 'one' with the metal I'm carving. It is almost trance like. The house could likely burn down around me when I have my nose in a tsuba I am carving.

Sometimes, you make a slip, and take out that chunk of metal that you didn't want to. As it is very tough to put it back on, I have learned to just carry on, with a bit of a change to the design. Most of the time it is only you that will know it ever happened.

Things like inlay, can be the most frustrating thing you have ever done. But those times it goes right, it makes it all worth while.

 

Mark

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Sean, Those are things that I have trouble with as well.

I may try something simple one of these days and see what happens. I have the patience for it, and I definitely don't have any problem getting into that trance-like state. The problem doesn't start until that state of mind suddenly gets shattered by one stupid mistake that ruins hours of work. My biggest problem is not being able to walk away from something when I know that I'm getting tired, or starting to lose my concentration.

 

I guess you are right though; a small mistake in something like that probably wouldn't be noticed by anybody other than yourself. And since it's such a fine process in the first place, a small mistake could usually be covered up, or blended in somehow. It wouldn't be as bad as calligraphy, where even the smallest mistake is glaringly obvious...

Edited by Sean McGrath

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Interesting discussion Sean, Mark and Kevin.

 

It can be a fine line between unrealistic encouragement and overcautiousness around the difficulty of some undertaking, and both might possibly lead to ultimate discouragement. I think only through trying things can we find out how our inborn talents line up with our aspirations and personalities. Difficult skills must be given enough time and attention to see if they suit us. On the other hand, anyone hearing my singing would agree immediately, this dude should stick to scratching metal and wood. :lol:

 

Metal can be more forgiving than some other media as it is possible in various ways to add material or push it around. I do have the bucket of shame as probably most do, where no amount of tweaking would help :o

 

Jim

Edited by Jim Kelso

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Jim

 

I am following your steps it is a good education to see how you are achieving your different effects. How much more difficult is it to do what you are doing in steel. I would like to be able to carve into my blades.

 

Kip Kaiser

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Steel can present a huge range in difficulty to engrave, from not much more difficult than non-ferrous, to impossible. I don't have a lot of experience engraving blades but un-hardened blade steel, in general, should not be problematic.

 

I would think that an iron-clad, san-mai, configuration would present the ideal approach, as you will avoid messing with the engraving after HT. Also engraving the soft area of a selective hardened blade would be feasible.

 

Jim

Edited by Jim Kelso

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Thanks for the pin guys. Thanksgiving has got me a little derailed on this but it won't last. :rolleyes:

 

Jim

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OK so picking this up again, the photo below shows some scraping to relieve the layers of feathers. I will describe the tool below that.

 

IMGP4852.jpg

 

I use this tool an awful lot on most engraving jobs. It is palm-held and functions as a 1) knife, 2) graver, and 3) scraper. It has a knife-edge on the bottom, the point serves as a graver point and the flat edge on the L (looking from front) is a scraping edge when layed flat, as seen in the photo scraping around a leaf inlay. Palm holding this tool allows me to switch back and forth immediately between functions.

 

IMGP5115.jpg

 

IMGP5116_2.jpg

 

post-4-1155608290.jpg

Edited by Jim Kelso

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These three photos show the sequence of the body feathers being drawn, engraved and the relief and partial finishing.

In all these photos and while working I mostly use a fairly oblique, glancing light, from the top which casts a fairly prominent shadow. This helps see work that needs to be done. An overall diffuse light does not show small variations in plane well.

 

IMGP4856.jpg

IMGP4857.jpg

IMGP4859.jpg

Edited by Jim Kelso

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Jim

 

It looks awesome.

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Thanks very much Kip!

 

These pics show the feather texturing which was done with a combination of round bottom chisels(3 sizes) and chased texture with, I think, 3 punches. The chisel cuts add some shaping and the punches are for added texture. The eye is inlayed 24k gold but won't pop until the polishing and patination. I have a bit more detailing to do before final polishing. I had to make the pin finding today.

 

IMGP5110.jpg

 

The actual carved Heron measures 42mm (1.65") beak-tip to wing-tip, so quite a bit smaller than the smallest of these photos.

 

IMGP5114_3.jpg IMGP5114.jpg

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Wow! Looking great B) The texture in the feathering really completes it. Thanks for sharing the process..if only I could engrave like that :P

 

John

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Thanks very much John. Yeah the texturing brings it alive.

Before the final polishing with the horsehair brush (migaki-bake) I hit it very lightly with 1200g paper. Very lightly on the carved part.

 

IMGP5123.jpg

Edited by Jim Kelso

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the scale of it really hits home when you see your thumbs in there... wow

 

impressive !

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I got in such a heat to get the patina done I neglected to take any photos of the final polishing or patina process. It is gone into detail HERE

 

I also did not mention that this is 30% silver/70% copper shibuichi made for me by Phil Baldwin. The bezel is 18k gold. 24k eye.

 

IMGP5175PSE.jpg

 

IMGP5178vig.jpg

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