Michael Bell, Swordsmith of Dragonfly Forge

A brief video interview with Michael Bell, founder of Dragonfly Forge, has been uploaded to YouTube. He speaks regarding becoming a swordsmith, his apprenticeship, developing forged cable swords, and our swordsmithing school, Tomboyama Nihontō Tanren Dōjō.

We would like to thank Frank Knight for taking the time and effort to produce the video and allowing us to share it.  Thank you Frank!

“A Slice of Japan” by Frank Knight – Ethos Magazine

“About 30 minutes outside of Coquille, Oregon, a small wooden marker written in kanji stands at the base of a hill. Another 15 minutes up the rough dirt road nestled amongst the trees of the rugged Oregon coastline sits the home of a modest Japanese swordsmith.”

Continue reading this article in Ethos Magazine by Frank Knight…

Unveiling Dragonfly Forge’s New Mon

Dragonfly Forge is proud to unveil our new mon, which will serve as a logo for our business and swordsmithing school. Our mon features three dragonflies facing outward, enclosed, like the majority of mon, within a bold circle.

Mon are heraldic symbols of medieval Japan. Like European family crests, they developed amongst the aristocratic class first, gradually being adopted by commoners and merchants. They came into widespread use by the 12th century, especially for use in battle, seen on flags, armor, tents and other military equipment to help distinguish clan member from enemy.

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Annual OKCA Knife Show, 2010 Swordsmithing School

With the annual Oregon Knife Collectors (OKCA) Show coming less than a month away, Dragonfly Forge is gearing up for it and the upcoming school year at our swordsmithing school, Tomboyama Nihontō Tanren Dōjō (Dragonfly Mountain Japanese Sword Forging School).

The OKCA show will be held at the Lane County Fairgrounds in Eugene, Oregon on April 16-18. On Friday the show is open exclusively to OKCA members, who can attend free. Saturday and Sunday the show will be open to the public, with free demonstrations on Saturday.

The April 2010 Basic Forging Course is already fully booked with four students, but space does still remain in all of our other classes at this time. All of our classes are booked on a “first-come, first-serve” basis, with a deposit required to reserve one’s place in the session. Those interested can see our 2010 school year schedule at our school’s website and reserve a place in our classes, or visit our school’s frequently asked questions page for more information.

While our currently commissioned orders are certainly keeping us plenty busy, we have also been hard at work preparing the school for another school year. More tongs have been forged, with help from apprentice John, because as any smith knows, “you can never have too many tongs”. Maintenance has been done on our half mile driveway, and more work has been done on the shop and grounds. We’re looking forward to another enjoyable year of classes in 2010 !

Unfortunately, Dragonfly Forge will not be attending the San Francisco Token Kai this year, as it scheduled for the same weekend as Gabriel and Maria’s wedding on August 20th. Once we learned of the conflict, rescheduling was not an option, and obviously the wedding is greatly more important than any sword show, no matter how much we love swords. We with certainly be attending the 2011 Token Kai and still greatly recommend for those that can attend this year to do so.

We have also already scheduled an additional Basic Forging Course for November 1-5, 2010 due to interest. Those interested may reserve their place online at our school’s website, or contact us for more information.

Swordsmithing Dōjō 2010 School Year Schedule

This past week, we scheduled the 2010 school year for our swordsmithing school. Like we have done in the past, the school will begin the school year in April after the annual Oregon Knife Collectors Association (OKCA) Show. We have scheduled one week of class every month from April to September of 2010. October will be left unscheduled at this time, although if there is sufficient interest in an additional forging class, we will add one.

Please visit Tomboyama Nihontō Tanren Dōjō’s website to see the 2010 schedule and reserve a place in our classes.

Photos of Completed Tensho Koshirae

Dragonfly Forge recently completed and delivered a commissioned koshirae for a katana by top Japanese swordsmith Yoshindo Yoshihara. The photos of the project have been uploaded to our site.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Art of the Samurai: Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156–1868 Exhibit

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is currently featuring an outstanding exhibit: Art of the Samurai Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156–1868. The ambitious loan exhibition will bring together 214 masterpieces, including 34 National Treasures, 64 Important Cultural Properties, and six Important Art objects, a number of which have never traveled outside Japan. The several meitō being displayed include the exceptional 12th-century blade called Ôkanehira, disputably known as the greatest of all Japanese swords.

The last day of the exhibit is January 10, 2010.

While we will not be able to attend ourselves, its currently seems like a worthwhile exhibit for anyone interested in nihontō who can attend. A collection this large available for viewing in one place is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

August 2009 Oroshigane Seminar Results

With a super busy summer here at Dragonfly Forge, we were finally able to update our swordsmithing school’s website, www.tomboyama.com with some photos and information regarding our August, 2009 Oroshigane Seminar.

We hope to update this site with some photos of the resulting oroshigane blades forged by Michael and Gabriel from the results of the class soon!

A successful and enjoyable August Oroshigane Seminar!

A successful and enjoyable August Oroshigane Seminar!

33rd Annual San Francisco Token Kai

This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday the 33rd annual San Francisco Token Kai will be held at the San Francisco Airport Marriott.  Once again, Michael and Gabriel Bell of Dragonfly Forge will be attending the show on Saturday and Sunday.  The show is sponsored by the Northern California Japanese Sword Club; for more information visit the club’s site.  The Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai (Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Swords) – American Branch (NBTHK-AB) will be hosting exhibits and seminars well worth attending.

We hope to see you there!

Seashell ‘kai’ Tsuba by Anna Bell

14. Seashell 'kai' Tsuba

This tsuba is in the Higo style, with two seashell, or ‘kai’ in Japanese, pierced and carved in negative silhouette.  It is forged from antique wrought iron.  It was pierced and carved by Anna Bell and given a finish and patina that emphasizes the inherent beauty of the iron’s organic grain structure.

The tsuba itself is only one piece of a larger ongoing collaborative mounted katana project by the Bell family.

The blade itself is a katana of 25 inch (63.5 cm) nagasa forged of cable by Michael Bell.  Point is Michael’s standard extended chu-kissaki.  The hamon shows excellent control with activity due to the cables grain throughout.

The tsuba, pictured above, is made of antique wrought iron by Anna Bell.

The blade has a copper habaki by Gabriel Bell.  The koshirae is also by Gabriel.  Black lacquered saya with buffalo horn kojiri, koiguchi, and kurigata.  Silver shitodomeTsuka is full-wrap same lacquered in black, with Higo style fuchigashia in shibuichi, wrapped in brown silk ito.

More pictures and information to be posted as work progresses.