The bright orange moon of late Summer and early Autumn is the inspiration for this work. Tsukimi means moon watching, and brings to mind a lovely harvest moon and the rustling sounds of the dry, frost coloured susuki grass as the evening breeze blows across the plateau. The unusual ring and plate style kurikata is hammer textured, patinated, and set into the dark sky of the lacquered saya, among the innumerable stars of the Milky Way.
This tanto consists of twelve individual parts that began as twenty one pieces, crafted entirely with hand tools from a reclaimed Caterpillar tractor engine part, silver spoons, copper water pipe, and steel salvaged from the bottom of the sea.
Materials for the koshirae include copper bus bar and water pipe for the fuchi, kashira, habaki, and kurikata, silver and nickel-silver spoons for the hammer-textured seppa, and a steel spike salvaged from thirty feet under the Pacific for the heat-blued tsuba. The construction method of the fuchi is based on a higo style that uses internal tapers and mechanical joints rather than solder for locking the parts together. The saya is finished with an ishime-ji (stone surface) made from natural urushi lacquer and steel filings from the blade and hari bori style susuki grass design. The koiguchi is carved from reclaimed buffalo horn Canadian tourist trinkets from the 1980’s. The handle is a beautiful dark chocolate colour natural urushi lacquer over a sanded samegawa wrap.
The blade was hand forged in a charcoal fire from a large Caterpillar tractor pushrod, shaped with files, differentially hardened using traditional water quench yaki-ire, and polished by hand with water stones. Blade construction is muku with a hira-zukuri profile and an iori mune. The blade is just under 11.5″ long, overall length is just under 17″, and the overall length when sheathed is just over 18.5″. The handle dimensions are quite generous for a traditional piece and are suited to a western grip.
長さ/刃長 Nagasa: 9 sun 6 bu 5 rin (292mm)
元幅 Motohaba: 9 bu 2 rin (28mm)
重ね/元重 Motokasane: 2 bu 4 rin (7.2mm)
反り Sori: 5 rin (1.6mm)
中心/茎 Nakago: 3 sun 7 bu (112mm)
柄長 Tsuka: 4 sun 1 bu 5 rin (123mm)
拵全長 Koshirae: 15 sun 6 bu 2 rin (473mm)
形 Katachi: hira-zukuri, iori-mune
刃文 Hamon: suguha, mizukage, utsuri, yakiotoshi
帽子/鋩子 Boshi: yakitsume
中心/茎 Nakago: futsu, kuri-jiri, one mekugi-ana, signed near the tip
銘 Mei: hot stamped katabami-ken kamon
拵 Koshirae: chisagatana (with hybrid wakizashi saya-jiri), hamidashi tsuba, issaku
Material: Reclaimed Caterpillar tractor pushrod steel, ocean-salvaged steel spike, silver and nickel-silver spoons, reclaimed souvenir buffalo horn, copper bus bar, copper water pipe, copper wire, Nootka Cypress, samegawa, red Bamboo chopstick, natural urushi
This piece is in a private collection in Texas.
Detailed accounts of various stages of the process are documented here:
Making the Tsukimi Tanto
= 0.1 shaku（尺）
= 1 sun（寸）
= 10 bu（分）
= 100 rin（厘）