The traditional technique of mokume gane (moku = wood, me = eye and gane = metal) was used in Japan for the decoration of the samurai sword as they transitioned from a tool for fighting battles into a symbol of the warrior class. Other historical names for it were kasumi-uchi (cloud metal), itame-gane (wood-grain metal), and yosefuki.
Denbei Shoami, a 17th century master metal smith from the Akita prefecture, is credited with inventing mokume. Using the mokume gane technique the smith would create laminated metal billets that were fused by heat and pressure. The billets, composed of various metal combinations were forged, carved and finished to produce uniquely patterned metal stock, were then used to fabricate parts for the samurai sword.
Mokume gane, as traditionally practiced, is an extremely difficult process; this is partly due to the difficultly of successfully fusing the metals and partly due to the immense skill required to forge the laminated billet down to useable material without separating the layers. Extensive research by modern metal smiths has provided us with new methods for making mokume gane billets using currently available equipment and materials.
The unique patterns are created by hand carving down through the layers in the laminated stack and then forging the carved laminate to flatten it out. The process of carving and rolling is repeated many times to create the finished pattern. The patterns formed in this manner are almost like a topographic map, showing the depth of the carving into the original laminate.
Some of the patterns we can create are from billets of:
18K Palladium White, 18K Rose and 18K Yellow Gold
18K Yellow Gold / Palladium 950
22K Gold / Sterling Silver
14K Palladium White Gold / Sterling Silver
18K Rose Gold / Shakudo Rods
Sterling Silve / Shakudo
Sterling Silver / Copper