Jim Kelso Posted November 16, 2009 Report Share Posted November 16, 2009 Debbie has enquired about how I developed the patina on the recent iron tsuba. Iron work is significantly different from kinko (soft-metal) work in the approach to finish and patina. The kinko work generally has a much more polished and refined look whereas a large motive of doing a work in iron is to develop a surface finish and patina that looks unselfconsciously organic, wabi and sabi. (sabi literally means rust). The surface look is a combination of the surface finish and the sabitsuke (rust making). It may appear to a casual or even somewhat trained eye that the texture of iron tsuba is mostly created by the rusting patina. This is actually not the case in the Natsuo and similarly finished works, where the texture is largely developed by controlled chasing, in combination with a controlled rust patina. This can be verified by looking closely at work. There are several Natsuo tsuba in the Kiyomizu-Sannenzaka Museum that I was fortunate to be able to handle and photograph. In one piece in particular it is clear that a fairly dramatic finish texture was chased, as it is present except in very specific areas where, because of the design it was clearly a choice to moderate it or not have it at all. Once one is convinced of how these textures were produced largely by chasing, every other iron work makes sense in that context. This is not to suggest that the controlled rusting (sabitsuke) patina is never part of the texturing process. Iron finishes can vary from very textured to quite smooth. I suggest that the finish is always a combination of chasing and rusting, in different proportions, according to what the craftsman/artist is aiming for. Iron mokume (pattern welded wood-grain) pieces indicate that acid etching was also employed, but I have no information on this practically, in the Japanese tradition, only my experience with modern pattern-welded blades. This organic look should not be thought of as any less demanding than the polished, refined look of the soft-metal work. In fact I think it's more demanding in a way to achieve in that it must look "natural" and uncontrived, whereas part of the charm of the kinko (non-ferrous) work is the almost super-human finish. Anyway, I need a break and will return with details of the tsuba patina. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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