Providing intricate detail in simplicity, the spalted Alder shirasaya (display scabbard) is the highlight of this piece. The wood was a gift from another local artisan, rescued from destruction in the firewood pile. The handle and scabbard were split and carved from a single piece to show the grain and spalting patterns wrapping around and flowing across the full length, and finished only with hand rubbed ibota wax to preserve the natural color and grain activity of the wood. The shirasaya was cut, carved, and planed entirely by hand, the process is detailed on the process page for shirasaya.
Reminiscent of the way that certain combinations of adverse conditions are required for the formation of pearls or for the development of mature human beings, spalted wood is a natural phenomenon resulting from minerals and natural processes unique to the location of the wood. It cannot be artificially induced, and when left undiscovered for too long the entire piece is lost to decay…but when it works as it should, the results are breathtaking.
The natural fire patina and hammer texture on the reclaimed copper habaki (blade collar) and seppa (blade washer) compliment the “wabisabi” elements of the aged Alder wood and the chisel-faceted mekugi (retaining peg) is carved from deep red piece of Cocobolo. The edge has been slightly polished, making this an excellent letter opener as is, please make a note if you would like the edge re-sharpened before shipping.
The clay tempered blade construction is muku (solid steel) with a slender and graceful hira-zukuri (single faceted bevels) shape. It is one that I made many years ago and had not mounted until recently, in fact it is probably the second kotanto blade to come out of Crossed Heart Forge. (I am still trying to track down the owner of the first!) The blade is about 5.5″ long, an overall length of just under 10″, and the overall length when closed is just under 10.5″.
Material: Reclaimed steel, reclaimed copper bus bar, reclaimed copper water pipe, spalted Alder firewood, Cocobolo chopstick
This piece is in a private collection in Australia.
Process of Making Shirasaya
The handle and scabbard are split and carved from a single block of wood so that the grain flows over the whole surface of the shirasaya. A more detailed account of this process is here: Making A Shirasaya
A more detailed account of this process: Making A Shirasaya