Thursday, October 23, 2008
Kezuroukai in Yoita: beside the meeting
(I'll finish later)
Kezuroukai Yoita 2: kanna (plane) making
An other interesting demonstration workshop during this meeting was dai making. More particularly, the making of special planes: kiwa kanna, daitachi kanna...
Traditional dai were made in front of the interested craftsmen. The dai maker Koyoshiya, on the photo above uses oil (in an abura tsubo, an oil pot) as well as a pencil to mark where the blade contacts the wood as the bed is being cut.
Note the position of both dai makers, they work on the floor. The special dai maker, whom unfortunately I couldn't name, is sited in a position that can be found in some yoga posture. He makes great use of his feet to hold the piece at work.
You can see on the photo above that the chisel set of a dai maker (here the one of Koyoshiya) is somehow limited. No extra tool. Each has is adapted to a particular task, from the large chisel for mortising the dai to the tiny narrow ones, through a scraper for removing material only where the blade contacts the wood in its bed.
There should be more to come (on other topics related to this meeting).
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Kezuroukai in Yoita 1: tatara
Upon arrival in Nagoya a little after noon, I start helping Mr Sugimura and the copper smith Mr Kunia and son. They were still working on the Inu Jinja, and what a change since I have left 6 months ago.
This kezuroukai was held in Yoita, 与板町, a 5 hrs drive from Nagoya, my base station when I go to Japan. It is a little town of less than 8000 inhabitants, in Niigata prefecture. Yoita hosts several blacksmiths, some very famous in the Japanese woodworking community even abroad in Germany and the USA.
Highlights during this meeting was the tatara, the traditional method to reduce sand iron into steel (it is iron with a small but not negligeable amount of carbon). The tatara was set-up by some university students of the university of Nagaoka. The furnace burnt during 36 hours, and from 18kg of sand iron and more of charcoal, about 5kg of steel was harvested.
At the end of the demolition process (bricks of each layers are removed with a pick) the treasure iron is here, glowing at a more than 1000 degree Celsius. Demolition takes time, as one has to wait for the charcoal to burn until the level of the lower layer.
Though the process of making tamahagane, the precious material used to make high end tools and japanese swords, is the same, parameters involved are different: the heat has to be higher, and the amount of raw material much bigger. The time involved is also doubled. The yield of high grade tamahagane is much lower than the one of iron/steel or lower grade tamahagane.