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Moonlit reeds, an experiment in iron and brass


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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!

 

reeds+tsuba+finished.jpg

 

reeds+tsuba+finished+1.jpg

 

Your questions and comments are welcome

 

Tiaan

Edited by Tiaan Burger
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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...

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

 

Cheers,

JH

 

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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