Wrought Iron Yoroidoshi Sculpture

A forging exercise leading to a sculptural tanto form for study and enjoyment, part of the Artist in Residence project at the museum. Forged from a piece of lovely fine-grained salvaged wrought iron railroad plate more than a century old. A little large for opening letters, this piece would function as a collectible, art object, paperweight, and conversation piece. An excellent extension of kata work for students but with the addition of being a tactile three-dimensional study of a tanto form.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Crafted entirely with hand tools and traditional techniques, the slender blade profile and thick spine are based on a classical yoroidoshi (鎧通し, armour piercing) tanto design. The lovely proportions of this piece are an interpretation of a famous national treasure tanto known as the mouritoushirou, though the tang is a slightly different style. Wrought iron has almost no carbon and will not take or hold a particularly fine edge so this work is designed to be enjoyed as is, straight out of the forge. Unmounted.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Construction is muku with hira-zukuri profile and mitsu mune. The blade dimensions are 10.5″ (265mm) long and just over 7/8″ (28mm) by 5/16″ (7.5mm) at the mune machi. From the tip to end of the tang is about 14.75″ and the edge is about 1mm thick just as it would be after yaki-ire. Grey iron hammer texture forge finish with a light coat of oil.

Specifications

長さ/刃長 Nagasa / blade length: 8 sun 8 bu (265mm)
重ね/元重 Motokasane / spine thickness: 2 bu 5 rin (7.5mm)
元幅 Motohaba / blade width: 7 bu 5 rin (23mm)
反り Sori / spine curve: 2 rin (1mm)
中心/茎 Nakago / tang length: 3 sun 6 bu (110mm)

形 Katachi / geometry: hira-zukuri, mitsu-mune, as-forged
刃文 Hamon / edge pattern: none
帽子/鋩子 Boshi / tip pattern: none
中心/茎 Nakago / tang: futsu, kuri-jiri, no mekugi-ana
銘 Mei / signature: mumei (unsigned)
拵 Koshirae / mounting: none

Materials: Reclaimed antique wrought iron rail plate

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.


Process

This piece was forged at the museum forge. It began as a pre-1900s railway plate made from fine wrought iron.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
This rail plate came from a railway that was abandoned before 1926 and is made from wrought iron over a century old.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
A break test can confirm wrought iron or layering as well as indicate the level of carbon in a piece of scrap.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
The way the layers bend and break shows a finely layered wrought iron texture.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
The traditional charcoal swordsmithing forge lit in preparation for this project.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
The starting point as an unusually shaped piece of rare scrap iron.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Multiple heats and careful hammering were required to straighten the piece and draw it out into a bar.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
The sunobe preform allots the volume of steel in proper proportions before hizukuri (bevelling) begins.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
During the hizukuri stage the triple-faceted mitsu-mune spine is forged in first, followed by the bevels.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Clay mixture is applied after some final adjustments with hammer and some filing to establish the notches and clean up the spine.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Even though the iron does not have enough carbon to harden, yaki-ire is performed to document the complete process and adjust the spine curvature.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Cleaned up after yaki-ire, the blade has a lovely form and retains its hammer textured surface.
Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.
Water forging has kept much of the fire scale off, leaving the surface with a natural texture.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.

Island Blacksmith: Charcoal forged knives from antique steel.


3.03022 cm
= 0.1 shaku(尺)
= 1 sun(寸)
= 10 bu(分)
= 100 rin(厘)

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