Mokume Gane – Synthesis of Nature and Craftsmanship

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People throughout history greatly valued their various forms of jewelry for their uniqueness, beauty, and mainly for their worth. The uniqueness and elegance in the things of nature have long been loved by all people everywhere.

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Through modification of minerals and metals from the earth, great pieces of jewelry have also been crafted in various shapes and designs to be worn as a mode of self-decoration as well as self-communication.

Jewelry can be created in multiple methods. Some ways are more contemporary and other methods come from previous generations and traditions. Some methods use traditional means in a new way. Those methods once antiquated become renewed. The crafting of mokume gane treasures is an example of how ancient customs can be blended with modern methods.

The Origin of Mokume Gane

Mokume-Gane was introduced to seventeenth century Japan by Denbei Shoami who lived from 1651 to 1728 in Akita Prefecture of Northwest Japan. Mokume gane is a Japanese phrase for “wood eye metal.” Shoami was a master metalworker and invented the Mokume Gane technique in the 1600’s to create decorative sword guards (tsuba) to be mounted on the hilts or handles of katana which were the swords used by the samurai class in medieval Japan.

The governing branch of medieval Japan was the samurai class. Their indications (signs) of distinction or position and their degree of affluence were exhibited in the decoration of their swords.

The technique of mokume gane creates variations in the color and texture of the metal so that it resembles the structure of wood grains and knots. It is an elegant way of incorporating the natural and harmonious patterns of wood into the cold, hard strength of polished metal.

Because the last of the samurai warriors passed away many years ago (the government established a more modern, western-style army in place of the samurai in 1873), the market for katana and accessories is now dominated by martial artists, professional collectors and those whose interest is to preserve the past. However, the fine art of mokume gane metalworking endures today in the creation of individual adornments, and other wonderful items of fine craftsmanship.

Crafting Mokume Gane Jewelry

Mokume gane is the fusion of various metals and their alloys. Even though the traditional techniques of mokume gane remain basically similar, contemporary craftsmen of mokume gane jewelry and related items of art came up with changes to the original methods. The metals originally and traditionally used in creating mokume gane included gold, copper, and silver. Newer forms of mokume gane also include metals such as titanium, platinum, iron, nickel and bronze.

Typically, mokume gane is created when various alloys or metals are merged together, not completely mixed into one alloy, but heated just enough to meld into a natrually created and irregular, yet surprisingly elegant design. This melding process is created through regulated high temperature and compression. The blended layers of metal are formed into a billet which is a single, solid ingot filled with various streaks and patterns.

After the formation of the ingot, it is sliced into a section exposing beautiful and natural looking grain-like shapes of various shades and colors. These days, computer programs are used as templates by modern craftsmen to help them cut out all sorts of elegant shapes most likely to create the most desired effect.

After it is cut to the desired size and shape, the ingot or billet is then pounded, formed, rolled and flattened out to make it thinner. It is then shaped for whatever purpose the designer wishes it to be, either a piece of fine jewelry or and object of art.

The Elegance of Mokume Gane Jewelry

Originally derived from the historic tradition of creating decorative sword guards for the medieval Japanese samurai warriors, the mokume gane method has survived until this day and has all sorts of new applications and expressions. Besides the amazing craftsmanship and beauty of the original tsuba, elegant rings, pendants, and many other forms of art are also created using this method.

To original article and illustrations >> Mokume Gane and please visit the original Sacred Jewelry website.



Sacred Geometry… the Design of Creation

Sacred geometry illustrates the unity of life in our world like no other field of study can. The sacred geometry symbol, Flower of Life, for instance, adorned churches, cathedrals, temples and pyramids for centuries with its amazing beauty, while bridging all manner of religions, cultures and times. There seems to be something deeply natural, spiritual and aesthetically pleasing about the Flower of Life, for example. From both a mystical and analytical direction of approach, the concepts of sacred geometry have always been quite fascinating. This subject is ancient, vast and versatile. Nearly all classic artwork and architecture is based on it. Sacred geometry can be either taught for scientific reasons or enjoyed for its mystical and spiritual enrichment.

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One Response to Mokume Gane – Synthesis of Nature and Craftsmanship

  1. Pingback: A Look At The Story Behind Jewelry Making Using the Mokume Gane Method

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