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Moonlit reeds, an experiment in iron and brass

Tiaan Burger

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I recently viewed some tsuba, and one reminded me of a technique I used during my blacksmithing days; a thin coating of brass is applied to red hot steel or iron to give it a golden sheen by either rubbing it with a bit of brass at red heat, or brushing it with a brass wired brush.


I decided to give it a go and used an iron tsuba blank with raised rim.

I coated the blank with some brazing flux, heated it dull red, dropped some brass pieces on it and then heated it to bright red. I did this both sides. On the one side most of the iron was covered, on the other I got a "quarter moon" of brass.


The general idea was to carve through the brass and reveal the iron below, the brass become a highlight on the black iron.


A note of caution: I used a gas forge that is situated in a very well ventilated studio to melt the brass. After pickling I could see that the zinc has burned of in some places, leaving a layer of copper. Zinc fumes can be fatal! Do not try this in an enclosed space!






Your questions and comments are welcome



Edited by Tiaan Burger

@tiaan_burger_knives on Instagram

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That came out really nice Tiaan, I'm doing something similar, but will use an ocxy-accetaline tourch, and see how it works...

To become old and wise... You first have to survive being young and foolish! ;) Ikisu.blogsot.com. Email; milesikisu@gmail.com mobile: +27784653651

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Beautiful carving! If you don't mind me asking, how solidly does the brass stick/weld to the steel?





Thank you all.

James, the brass sticks so well that I have to remove a thin layer of the iron as well as the brass when chiseling to get clean iron for the background. The zinc does tend to "gas out", forming a bit of porosity in places. This is easily removed to get to a good brass layer underneath.

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Great technique and a quite beautiful result!



“All work is empty save when there is love, for work is love made visible.” Kahlil Gibran

"It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them." - Alfred Adler

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