Patterning of Mokume-gane by Coining

by edwardsimkins on January 19, 2009

The idea for this technique resulted from a need to create identical copies of a pattern for a pair of mokume-gane ear rings.  While hand carving techniques create a natural pattern with attractive variation, it is sometimes preferable to have more repeatability and control over the result.  Other applications could be vessels, trays, boxes or panels, where repeating motifs are desired.

Steel dies can be made using various techniqes such as forging or hand carving with rotary files or burrs.  The ones pictured on this post were made by imprinting carbon steel wire models into orange-hot steel blanks using a 20-ton hydraulic press, a method not without risks.  (Imagine a heavy, firy steel tiddly wink careening through the studio).  Use a shield, or better yet don’t do it at all.  That said, I have been able to create patterns that have a fluid, 3-dimensional character that I find appealing in some applications. 

Following coining, the raised areas are filed down, then sanded.  A final polish before planishing gives an exceptional sharpness to the patterning and minimizes subsequent finish work.

For this “cinquefoil” design in fine silver/copper mokume-gane, the same die was used for a run of pendants.  I was able to experiment with several different rokusho recipes, as well as various levels of acid etching.  Below is a piece entitled “When,” also in silver/copper with black star sapphire.  The first is treated with liver of sulfur, the second, rokusho.

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