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Knife: Remnants of Passage


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Thanks very much Jul and Tonu.

 

Tonu, I think there is some influence from you there....

I miss seeing your productions.

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I have no idea how many times I have been back to check on this knife. It still boggles my mind. Thank you so much for taking the time of documenting the process and showing such excellent pictures of the finished product. It is the most inspirational piece by you so far and truly gives a perspective on how much there is still left to learn.

Did you do any/many sketches before and during the process of creating this knife? How did the thoughts go before you started? Was everything planned out before the first steps were taken so to speak?

 

//DQ

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Thanks very much Daniel. Your questions are interesting and perceptive because this piece developed quite differently than my usual approach.


I had thought a lot about some different approach to knife design other than stick-tang or full tang (not that there is anything wrong with those). The idea occurred to me of a knife as “edge conveyance”, in other words, two essential elements of a knife being an edge and a way to deliver it. So the mechanical design grew out of that rumination along with the notion of knife utility as opening or rending, viewed either realistically or metaphorically. It ended up with the edge looking fairly conventional on the metal side, but rather unconventionally, only slightly apparent, on the wood side. I made a very exact drawing of the overall shape and how the various pieces fit together.


From the beginning I wanted to integrate the carving with the overall shapes and design. The odd thing is that usually I have very detailed drawings which I could show of the carving/engraving before I started. This piece developed very differently. Initially I was going to carve it in snowflakes! I worked on that drawing and puzzled over it a lot. Finally I came upon the initial curve that runs the length of the shibuichi scale. I was seeing that as a depiction of a breeze that would carry the snowflakes of different sizes and shapes. I could not settle on the snowflakes orientation but decided I would go ahead and carve the curving line as it felt right. I thought that if I could get that carved, the snowflakes would present themselves. It often happens, that some puzzle will resolve as the work progresses.

I use a technique a lot, during carving, where with low side light, and from a hand-held distance, I go into a “soft-focus” mode, turning the piece slowly, so the light and shadow play on the carving. This is not an examination, but, by being receptive to what the piece is presenting, there will be suggestions, in the demi-light, of how to proceed. These suggestions could either be slight or grand, that is, either in the nature of refinement of a line or form, or actual major elements that could be added (hopefully not subtracted, but this does happen).


So….(you asked for it!)…at some point, in a watershed moment, it became clear that… no…snowflakes were not working….but, near that same moment, the idea of a floating feather came. A number of things coalesced, convincing me that this was the way to go, not-the-least-of-which was that the already carved curve would work just fine, and the beautiful pattern developed by Rick in the blade steel would work wonderfully as a watery reference. I was fairly flabbergasted by that as it was such a change of motif. What a relief! The curve in the shibuichi was quite deeply carved already too, and would also be a real pain to deal with if I had to change it. It took me a while to be convinced that I wasn’t just trying to talk myself into it. Sage encouragement from Shadow Master was critical. I did some drawing and the basics fell into place fairly quickly. The drawing from there out was all done on the metal so I only have that to show.

http://www.jimkelso.com/albums/daggerprocess/album/#


The feather motif also fit well with the knife as metaphor for opening or passage.


From there… (somebody stop me)…it was a matter of slowly refining the design around the feather, resisting the urge to add too much, under the watchful eye of Shadow Master (wife Jean).


It sounds after reading this that it was a pretty painless evolution. In fact there were moments of despair over what was coming next and in the end, would it really all work well, in a unified way, or end up as a kind of patchwork smörgåsbord (sorry Daniel). Fortunately I had some experience of working through this process in earlier pieces, especially this one: http://www.jimkelso.com/albums/kinship/album/


which required paying attention to what the wood was saying. It ended up very different than my original plan. This way of “listening to the piece” is very rewarding, but not always easy, and every piece does not demand it to the same degree.

Edited by Jim Kelso
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thanks for doing it Jim, somehow I missed it before, and thankfully saw it now! absolutely breathtaking! love it love it love it!

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What a treat to read your response Jim, you put words to so many things we've had discussions about at the guild. There is no small amount of bravery to do what you did. The easy way is just to stick with the path, the result will probably be good enough. But one will never know if it would have been brilliant if a different path was dared :)

 

I really enjoy your view of the knife and the possibilities that type of mindset opens. The knife is after all, just an implement for creating a parting in different elements.

 

The first (of several) times I skimmed through the process pictures you shared, rather quickly as I usually do for the first time. This one made me stop in my tracks. The lines displayed here are in many ways simple, but oh so difficult. I was very impressed with how little was shown by drawings, and how much could be seen. Very inspirational, I wonder if it is because it strikes a such a similar chord that nature does that it speaks in such volumes?

 

http://www.jimkelso.com/albums/daggerprocess/album/#IMGP8205%20copy.JPG

 

Your eye (and Shadow Masters, of course) for balance must be well honed. It is oh so difficult to do little and say much at the same time, yet you manage to pull it off time and time again.

 

This is about as far away from a smörgåsbord as you can get, but I like it anyway ;-). Speaking of which, soon it is time for the julbord (Yule/Christmas table), the most important of all smörgåsbord of the year.. 800px-Privat_julbord.JPG

 

I feel fortunate just to be able to see pictures of creations such as this, what an age we live in! Thank you for your interesting reply, you have given me much food for thought.

 

A practical question, the surface of the handle looks almost like it is shimmering, I realize this is largely because of the patina, but what type of finish was on the piece before? Stoned finish? Migaki-bake slurry? If so, what grit?

 

//DQ

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George and Daniel, much appreciated.......

 

Daniel the Yulbord looks fantastic!

 

As to your question about the surface finish, I will try not to be too longwinded..........

 

The two main components of shibuichi, copper and silver, never really fully homogenize, so will present as a grainy, crystalline matrix. (sorry I can't find my copy of C.S. Smith's History of Metallography for the proper terms) This can be enhanced 1) during the pouring of the alloy by keeping the melting time to a minimum, 2) with the addition of minute percentages of gold & lead, and 3) by hammering instead of rolling to thickness. There may also be some enhancement of grain when water-casting.

 

See this thread for an example of using all four of the above: http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=23306

 

However, even shibuichi that is rolled still presents the crystalline grain when finely polished and patinated using the niage process. Here is a shot of a piece from Phillip Baldwin (Shining Wave Metals) about life size, and then blown up. The grain is not so apparent to the naked eye at life size but none-the-less presents something of a velvety look, I would say , because of the underlying granular nature.

This piece was just nicely polished with migaki-bake brush to 800g with silicon-carbide & water slurry.

 

IMGP8707webuse.jpg

 

IMGP8707PSEweb.jpg

 

The knife scale was also material from Phillip, and was finished again with migaki-bake brush to 800g with silicon-carbide & water slurry. I do find that as you use this slurry, the S/C breaks down and the brush gets less stiff. This results in a finer finish than if you use all fresh materials. So I am careful to save my used slurry and finish off with it and an old brush.

 

Additionally, after the final polish, the knife scale was very lightly textured by pouring tiny garnets over it, which is a way to control the final surface look, in combination with the inherent grain. The two sample pieces above were not treated with the stones.

 

I don't think that it should be assumed that the largest grain effect in shibuichi is always the best for all projects. In the case of this knife scale, I wanted the graininess to be somewhat subdued, and selectively augmented by the garnet induced texture.

 

This photo shows the result which can be seen a little better in the dark areas.

 

IMGP8693PSEeweb.jpg

 

(edited for clarity)

Edited by Jim Kelso
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I always try to look at your posts I don't know how I missed this but it just takes me back a step. I have just been sitting here looking at it again and wow! Amazing isn't descriptive enough. Thanks for sharing all of that with us. Oh and I love finding feathers when I'm out in the woods too, I always wonder. Thank you.

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  • 2 weeks later...

George and Daniel, much appreciated.......

 

Daniel the Yulbord looks fantastic!

 

As to your question about the surface finish, I will try not to be too longwinded..........

 

The two main components of shibuichi, copper and silver, never really fully homogenize, so will present as a grainy, crystalline matrix. (sorry I can't find my copy of C.S. Smith's History of Metallography for the proper terms) This can be enhanced 1) during the pouring of the alloy by keeping the melting time to a minimum, 2) with the addition of minute percentages of gold & lead, and 3) by hammering instead of rolling to thickness. There may also be some enhancement of grain when water-casting.

 

See this thread for an example of using all four of the above: http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=23306

 

However, even shibuichi that is rolled still presents the crystalline grain when finely polished and patinated using the niage process. Here is a shot of a piece from Phillip Baldwin (Shining Wave Metals) about life size, and then blown up. The grain is not so apparent to the naked eye at life size but none-the-less presents something of a velvety look, I would say , because of the underlying granular nature.

This piece was just nicely polished with migaki-bake brush to 800g with silicon-carbide & water slurry.

 

attachicon.gifIMGP8707webuse.jpg

 

attachicon.gifIMGP8707PSEweb.jpg

 

The knife scale was also material from Phillip, and was finished again with migaki-bake brush to 800g with silicon-carbide & water slurry. I do find that as you use this slurry, the S/C breaks down and the brush gets less stiff. This results in a finer finish than if you use all fresh materials. So I am careful to save my used slurry and finish off with it and an old brush.

 

Additionally, after the final polish, the knife scale was very lightly textured by pouring tiny garnets over it, which is a way to control the final surface look, in combination with the inherent grain. The two sample pieces above were not treated with the stones.

 

I don't think that it should be assumed that the largest grain effect in shibuichi is always the best for all projects. In the case of this knife scale, I wanted the graininess to be somewhat subdued, and selectively augmented by the garnet induced texture.

 

This photo shows the result which can be seen a little better in the dark areas.

 

attachicon.gifIMGP8693PSEeweb.jpg

 

(edited for clarity)

 

Great response Jim, thank you so much! Fittingly enough it explained alot of questions that came up now, just after my first pours of shibuichi. Very very interesting. Going to keep a closer eye on the melt time the next time around. Thank you :)

 

I find the effect beautiful in picture. Going to see if I can bring something forward now in real life :). Lately I have been more and more interested in these subtle effects metals can produce. The world is large and there is a lot of to explore!

 

It is a shame we live so far apart, this is a piece that I would definatly like to explore in real life.

 

//DQ

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Thanks very much Tim and Daniel.

 

Daniel, yes, a pity not to live closer.

Edited by Jim Kelso
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What a fantastic piece, I especially love the feather on wood. Having painted many a feather I can really appreciate the skill it takes to capture the texture and softness of a feather especially in hard materials such as metal and wood...and you have done this perfectly..I always look forward to your posts and seeing your inspiring work.

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the path is good and welcome...where else you gonna go, @scott (^_~)

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Thanks Rob, Dave and Scott!

 

Scott, as Dave suggests, there ain't no way out, and that's a good thing.........

 

Our individuality is worth cultivating, as well as our unity.

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well said, @Mr. Kelso...we carry on individually together (...feathers in the stream ^__^ )

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