I am excited to be launching my first issue of the Elina Bromberg newsletter. Each month I will be sharing news about projects, lifestyle suggestions, and of course, beautiful new jewelry designs. This month I am sharing information on an ancient technique used hundreds of years ago to make samurai swords, a method called Mokume Gane.
In Japan, from the late 1600’s to the mid 1800’s, the samurai sword transitioned from being a tool for fighting battles into a symbol of the warrior class. The quality and amount of decoration on the sword handle and sheath became an indicator of ones social status and wealth. The level of craftsmanship demonstrated in many of these sword furnishings is second to none. The sword smiths developed a wide array of techniques for use in the decoration of these swords. The traditional technique of mokume gane (mokume = wood grain and gane = metal) was one such technique.
Denbei Shoami, a 17th century master metalsmith from the Akita prefecture is credited with inventing mokume and using it for the admornment of samurai swords. Using the mokume gane technique the smith would create laminated metal billets that were fused by heat and pressure. The billets composed of various metal combinations, were forged, carved and finished to produce uniquely patterned metal stock; this stock was then used to fabricate parts for the samurai sword.
Mokume gane as traditionally practiced, was a very difficult process to learn; this was partly due to the difficultly of successfully fusing the metals and partly due to the skill required to forge the laminated billet down to useable material without separating the layers.
Learn more about this ancient technique here: