2009 School Year of Dragonfly Mountain Swordsmithing School Begins

As the fruit trees around the shop blossom and the everything else on Dragonfly Mountain begins to grow at a nearly unmanageable rate, Tomboyama Nihonto Tanren Dojo once again opens its doors to students.

We already had our first, very sucessful, Basic Forging Course, and classes scheduled for our swordsmithing school are already starting to fill up, so those very interested in attending one of our courses should sign up before space runs out.

Our scheduled classes run from April to August, although we may schedule a class for the beginning of October as well, depending on interest.  During the winter, we will once again close our doors, as winter storms and other weather conditions can make travel difficult.

Crab tsuba in progress, by Gabriel Bell

This tsuba is currently being sculpted by Gabriel Bell.  The tsuba was forged from antique wrough-iron.  It was then pierced and carved.  The basic design is classic Japanese; the most famous tsuba of this design can be seen in the book, One Hundred Masterpieces from the Collection of Walter A. Compton. The tsuba is now in the process of being sculpted using small files, chisels and other metal carving tools, including the double-edged carving/scraping tool pictured above.

Crab design tsuba of wrought iron, in progress
Crab design tsuba of wrought iron, in progress

After it has been sculpted and finished, a patina will promoted.  The color patina we desire can only really be achieved on old-technology iron The organic nature of old-technology iron gives a grain, as well as what are referred to as “bones”, slag inclusions, that give a tsuba a wonderfully natural beautiful finish with character.  This particular piece of wrought iron which is now becoming a tsuba, was the iron rim of an wagon wheel that traveled the Oregon Trail in a previous life. Continue reading “Crab tsuba in progress, by Gabriel Bell”

Bowers Museum – Art of the Samurai: Selections from the Tokyo National Museum

Of possible interest for those in the Southern California area, the Bowers Museum is holding a special exhibit featuring nihonto from the Tokyo National Museum.  Although viewing online photos of Japanese swords can certainly be enjoyable, it can in no way compare to actually viewing the blade in person.  During our 2006 trip to Japan, we visited the Tokyo National Museum and the wonderful opportunity to see the famous blades, the dōjigiri and the kanze masamune.  Until then we had only been able to see these blades as photographs in Kanzan Sato’s book The Japanese Sword.  The difference was black and white.  The Tokyo National Museum had the blades very well lighted and they all had excellent polishes.  If the Bowers Museum’s exhibit is of the same quality of the Tokyo National Museum, then it is well worth the visit for those passionate about Japanese swords.

“Art of the Samurai: Selections from the Tokyo National Museum features 81 objects from the Tokyo National Museum representing a wealth of artworks related to the everyday, traditional, and official role of the Samurai class of Japan. Focusing on the art and aesthetics of Samurai culture, the exhibition features a wealth of objects that are a testament to the accomplished level of society, education, and mastery of skills the Samurai developed between the 10th and 20th centuries. Included are beautifully crafted swords, armor, tea-ceremony utensils, screen and scroll paintings, Noh theatre costumes, and other fine works. This outstanding collection dates primarily to the Edo period (1603–1868) with many pieces classified as Important Cultural Property and National Treasures of Japan.”

For more information regarding the exhibit, visit the Bowers Museum website.