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Two Friends Zen Camp Knife

Jim Kelso

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Apologies for my spare participation here.

The inspiration for the form of this knife is the Japanese kogatana/kozuka. I have long admired the simple form of these knives and the often sublimely beautiful art found on the kozuka handle. 


My desire to work in iron on the handle led to the idea of forging the iron to the blade, resulting in a one-piece knife with integral handle. Having recently begun collaborating with Nick Anger, I asked him about making a wood-grain (mokume) patterned blade and strategically forging iron to the back in the handle area. Nick’s highly skilled merging of the iron with the steel was impeccable and just what I had hoped for as a canvas for my engraving/inlay. The wrought iron has a lovely natural, earthy grain.


The subject of my engraving is a pairing of pine and plum design. The style of engraving for the plum branch and blossoms is called kosuki-bori, practiced by Goto Ichijo (1791-1876) and passed to his student Funada Ikkin (1812-1863). It was mostly used to portray plum branch design. The plum blossoms are inlayed pure silver with rose-gold centers, which have engraved details and punched raised dot stamen-tips. The pine design served as a transition from the patterned blade steel to the iron handle with one small pine branch on the iron and another forward on the steel.


The steel and iron both needed specific etch and patina, which were done after all shaping, engraving and polishing was completed. The blade etch was done by Nick with ferric chloride. I did the iron patina with the technique given to me by Toshimasa-sensei as outlined on my website.


The shibuichi throat piece was carved in a wood-grain pattern and has 24k gold inlaid lichen. It was patinated with the traditional Japanese niage process. The saya/sheath is made from Wenge wood and was chosen for its pattern and colors harmonious to the iron patina. 



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6 hours ago, Don Abbott said:

That is the most organic looking knife I have ever seen.



Thanks very much Don!

6 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

It's been a long time, Jim!  But you're better than ever, I must say.  I love it.

Thanks very much Alan! It has been a while…

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A beautiful ceation Mr. Kelso. I have often considered a Mokume blade, but never did because I didn't know what meterials to use. What combo is this?

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“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  





J.States Bladesmith | Facebook



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12 hours ago, Joshua States said:

A beautiful ceation Mr. Kelso. I have often considered a Mokume blade, but never did because I didn't know what meterials to use. What combo is this?

Thank you all for the kind comments! Much appreciated.


Joshua, Nick made the blade from 15n20/1080. The term mokume is usually taken in the west to mean copper alloys or other non-ferrous. In fact it refers to the grain pattern, and could be applied to ferrous, non-ferrous and even clay.

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