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Video WIP: Muromachi-Inspired Aikuchi Tanto, Full Urushi Koshirae

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I don't often have enough footage to follow right on through, but this project gets close...there are a couple of exceptions, the main one being the blade forging which is actually footage of the sister blade, forged around the same time from the other half of the same spring, to a similar kata...others will be noted as i go...enjoy 100 some hours in 22 minutes ^__^

This style of koshirae is a first for me. Though there are examples of several variations right up through Edo and beyond, the lines on this one are inspired by a muromachi piece, the clean, austere "boldness with restraint" makes me think of a gentleman's tanto. Normally I would want to add a very slight bit of embellishment on the saya, but because of its next stop I left it unadorned for now.

The blade is forged from a reclaimed horse-drawn carriage spring made from century-old shear steel. Materials for the koshirae include copper bus bar for the habaki, driftwood Nootka Cypress with natural urushi lacquer finish for the tsuka and saya, reclaimed Congolese silver jewelery for the mekugi pin, and local Oceanspray ironwood for the ki-fuchi, koiguchi, and kurikata accents.

going from here:

to here:

Charcoal Making
(may or may not be the actual charcoal used for this blade)

Forging the Blade
(the sister blade, forged just before this one, from the other half of the same shear steel leaf spring, full 28min. version is here:


(this is a montage of several blades, possibly including this one)

Blade Overview
(this is another montage, but starts with the sister blade--same spring, and shows more of the stages involved after forging)

(the real deal, starting from driftwood)

(the real deal, with several repetitive stages omitted...apologies for the low lighting in some of the shots)

The full photo essay with far more detail and info is here:

...i don't have blade photos without reflection yet, "kimono fold" double mizukage, suguha hamon with small turnback, lots of blistery shear steel hada...(shown with tsunagi and ki-habaki)

aikuchi-tanto-kuro-urushi-koshirae-133.j Edited by DaveJ
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thanks, all!...a little closer up, this is a heavy vinegar and hot water etch, something i don't normally do, but for this project, the blade is all about contrasting the "blistery" texture of this old handmade steel with the smooth urushi surface...at some point i will try to document the hamon without all the reflections...see the photo i added to the original post for the view of the boshi and "monouchi" part of the hamon...




one at a more reasonable distance:



...and for you wood connoisseurs, sitting on a piece of mukwa aka lunda aka mukula wood.

Edited by DaveJ
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Superb! A pleasure to see your work again, and the art behind its creation. Thanks for taking the time to document everything, it is, to say the least, very enjoyable to watch.



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Thank´s for the blade pictures.

It could be interesting to see the blade in a classic Japanese Style Polish.......but anyway nice work.

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Hmm, we're getting used to these first rate productions......

Really lovely, subtle shaping on the koshirae Dave, and wonderful lacquer work.

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thank you, all! sorry, i inadvertently stripped out the video code yesterday when i added the blade photo...fixed now.




honto ni arigatou, kelso~san, mada mada desu...more to come!

Edited by DaveJ
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  • 3 months later...

...and a follow-up, this is the mounted sister blade (the one forged in the video above...has an even more intense and crusty hada) the texture in the urushi lacquer finish comes from the crushed iron oxide left in reacted/used up kairo (japanese hand warmer packets)...the urushi reacts with the iron oxide to turn it from red-brown to black islandblacksmith.ca/2015/03/kuromatsu-aikuchi-tanto/


"One of the elements of traditional Japanese aesthetics includes the appreciation for the natural process of wear and decay. Historically, this led to the creation of new items that appeared to be aged or rugged and had elements of imperfection and asymmetry, hearkening back to ages past and honouring materials and objects that bear the marks of longevity."













Kuromatsu Tanto with hand carved Sapele stand.




update: reshoot with a couple new angles...





Edited by DaveJ
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