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.

Once completed, this tsuba will be mounted with a fine quality custom koshirae in the Tensho style by Michael Bell (also in-progress) on a large katana by the famous contemporary Japanese swordsmith, Yoshindo Yoshihara. This tsuba is an example of an especially elaborate tsuba, although we make simple designs as well.

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