All About Mokume Gane!

木目金 ● Mokume Gane ● pronounced: MOH-koo-may GAH-nay

 

This Japanese traditional metalworking technique is one of our favorite styles to work in! Layers of different types of metal are soldered together to create stunning patterns. The style you will see most often in our work is our woodgrain pattern, but we also make beautiful samidare or raindrop style pieces and many other patterns. Will learned this type of metalworking in college from his mentor and it has quickly become the signature style of W.R. Metalarts.

 

When was mokume invented? What is the history of mokume?

Mokume was first created in Japan in the 17th century to be used for elaborate decorative swords. But by the 20th century the technique of mokume gane had almost disappeared. Japan had slowly transitioned away from traditional craftwork and the skill needed to make mokume gane made it incredibly difficult to master. But in the 1970's Hiroko Sato Pijanowski learned the technique from Norio Tamagawa and she and her husband began teaching mokume gane to their students in the United States.

Why was mokume created?

Mokume was first created to make decorative sword handles but quickly became popular to be used for housewares and jewelry.

What does mokume mean?

Mokume gane roughly translates to woodgrain metal or wood eye metal because of the beautiful woodgrain patterns that emerge when this technique is used.

What is mokume made of?

Our mokume pieces are made of several precious metals in different colors that are layered over each other over and over and fused together to form a single block of metal called a billet. Then the billet is twisted to create the desired pattern and shaped into the final ring design.

Is mokume the same as damascus? What is the difference between mokume and damascus steel?

They are really similar! They are both made of different metals layered, fused, and twisted to create intricate patterns. Damascus steel is made of iron alloys and mokume is made of precious non-ferrous metals. So a damascus blade might be made of steel and stainless steel where a mokume ring is made of gold and silver alloys.

How do you make mokume gane?

Mokume gane is made by layering precious metals and fusing them together. After that they are twisted, hammered, and shaped to create beautiful patterns in the metal.

What metals are used in mokume gane?

We use all sorts of gold alloys like 14K rose gold, white gold, palladium white gold, 18K gold, 22K yellow gold, etc. We also love using silver in our mokume gane. We do this because then we can put the shaped ring in acid which eats away at the silver and brings out the woodgrain layers in the ring even more. You can learn more about our etching process here.

How do you clean mokume gane?

All of our rings are super easy to clean - even our mokume gane ones! The best way to clean it is with warm water, a gentle dish soap, and a toothbrush to clean out the grooves of the meal. The best way to keep your mokume gane beautiful for generations is to not expose it to chemicals, lotions, or dirt. And always remember to take off your beautiful ring before doing any work with your hands!

 

- The W.R. Metalarts Team


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