Mokume Gane - 木目金
… is a traditional Japanese forging technique and its name refers to the unique appearance of the end product: Mokume stands for wood grain and Gane is the metal. The technique developed from the forging of multi-layered Damas-steel, which was originally meant to combine flexibility and strength of different metals for the blade of a sword or knife. It was further applied as non-ferro (iron) decoration for the Tsuba, the guards of valuable samurai swords. Today the technique is mainly used for jewellery and pieces of art, such as vases, ornate cups and others.The exclusivity of the technique is that through a long forging and forming process, I can generate unique pattern and thus give jewellery a rare charisma.
For examples of my work, see here.
Goldsmiths do not commonly use this forging technique, as it is rather labour-intensive, but also not widely known. In the following explanation you will get a first impression of the process that normally would stretch over one or two weeks. The goal of the process is to create from very thin sheets of different metals a block that despite of the different physical properties of the alternating layers becomes one solid piece. The patterns of the later jewellery are created using the layered metal block as basis.
The layers used to actively design the Mokume are all non-ferro metals such as gold, platin, copper, silver, brass, tombak, Shakudo, Shibichi and more. Applying heat and pressure the surface of the thin metal sheets are melting and such creating a solid block. The physical bonding of the layers is based on the principle of diffusion. The amount of layers can be up to 30 and the thickness per metal sheet is between 0.2 and 3 mm. Through different methods of milling and drilling, filing, etching and continuously forging the block towards a thinner form, I can create surface pattern similar to those naturally emerging in wood grains.
As the goldsmith has to manually forge the metal block thinner without loosing the cohesion between the layers, it is a very lengthily and labour-intensive process. The lines and patters emerging on the surface of the metal will have eventually a highly organic character. A metal plate created in such a process can now be further used for an exclusive piece of jewellery. Eventually the contrast between the different metals can be increased by oxidising or through the application of special stains.