Making Mokume

Mokume Gane was invented in Japan in the 17th century to adorn samurai swords and means “wood grain metal” in Japanese. Making mokume gane is exacting & time-consuming and requires skills & equipment outside the usual range of jewelry-making techniques, some more akin to blacksmithing, so not many jewellers practise the art today.


It is essentially the process of fusing many layers of contrasting non-ferrous metal sheets so that they become a solid block or billet. The billet can then be patterned and made in to rods or sheet metal with the charateristic grainy, layered mokume patterns.


I most often make the mokume billet into sheet to use in my jewelry. To begin the process I clean, stack and clamp the sheets tightly between two steel plates.  The clamped block is then heated until the separate sheets fuse together.

(The picture above shows a copper/fine silver/brass billet just after fusing.)

After removing the billet from the steel plates I hammer it with a hand hammer & power hammer to reduce some of thickness and pattern it several times at different thicknesses by drilling, engraving and carving in to the top layers to reveal the lower layers.


I then further reduce the thickness of the billet by hammering and with a rolling mill to flatten out the patterning indentations and create the working sheet.


(The picture left is a piece of silver & copper patterned mokume sheet when it has just been annealed during the rolling process, the copper oxidation giving a good contrast with the fine silver)

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Lynda Metcalfe, blacksmith, jeweller

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Lynda Metcalfe, 18 Waldroup Rd, Brasstown, NC 28902


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