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INTRODUCTION - SOME HISTORICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Niccollo Machieavelli (1496 - 1527) author of The Prince, once wrote  that innovation would always be met with the fiercest of oppositions until it was able to establish itself, at which time, the first ones to take profit from the new order would be those who were initially the fiercest opposers.

The world has not changed much since those days or earlier times. The reason being the fact that mostly any change carries a large amount of fears of different kinds, namely because change does by nature challenge the established order.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519) is still regarded today as one of the most daring creative minds in the world.

These incredible ideas coming from the 16th. Century took four centuries before they could be a reality. Nonetheless, the concept was there, though hidden, for Leonardo knew what he would be facing with the society of his time.

Anonymous and vicious accusations that led to an
impeachment taught the Master not to share his thoughts and visions with his fellow men, who would most probably laugh at the new Icarus.

Even today many are quickly branded of some kind of heresy when they think differently, no matter in which field.

Such is human nature and there is little that we can do about it.


THE REASONS BEHIND THE SEASONED KATANA

Being just a humble and modest admirer of Leonardo and interested in the many aspects of History, mainly its recurrence, I have been dedicating myself to the practice of designing new swords by firstly designing some fittings that are destroyed in a transitional situation that follows the natural path, such as the cornfield that is burnt after the crop and before new sprouts appear, seasons pass, the snow and ice clearing the way for new ploughing to begin.
It is in this manner that I viewed the combination work over continents between Joe Walters and myself. Somehow the destruction of a traditionally detailed carved surface such as a Tsuba do symbolizes the plough that is done for the emergence of something new, while the ploughing itself is already the beginning of new ideas or concepts.

From this exercise which had to involve an accomplished craftsman and bladesmith as good as Joe Walters in the sculpting of the tsuba, and its patination, a more elaborate relationship had to be established between Joe's potentialities and the overall design.
Though the earlier design I did and rendered by Eric Litton did not contemplate this tsuba, I felt that the entire material urged me to deface the original tsuba design to achieve a more balanced relationship with the textured metallic area of the saya.

Therefore the idea of creating a sculpted tsuba in a contemporary abstract vocabulary seemed the right thing to do, balancing the effects of the ploughed-carved tsuba areas with plain areas that would relate to the plain fuchi and kashira.

I was so satisfied with the results that this initially optional tsuba became the one to be mounted on the sword, while I commissioned Joe Walters for another tsuba to be made at his entire free will, so that I could have a piece that could be admired and placed as an independent, self-existing work of art.

The result could not have been better, as it is presented here side by side with the earlier one pictured with the dragonfly menuki. Being similar they are different, each showing basic similarities and main differences. What may these be? Well, the main one resides on the fact that the first one had to deal with the utilitarian perspective, meaning that it would indeed serve the purpose of having the surface defined so as not to hurt the fingers.

The second one was absolute freedom, as it is a display piece. Hence there is full expression from the smith, making it a work of contemporary art in itself.

In other words, beauty does not require reality's imagery to be recognized to be art.
But then it is not my purpose to discuss the broad definition of art in a review like this one.

Therefore, though apparently they are similar, the ends are different and this is an issue that has to be considered, because what counts is not the appearence of things but the principles that support them..
So far, the textured combination with the plain areas find a relationship with the fittings.
To one side the textured metallic area of the saya, while on the tsuka side, the fuchi and kashira are totally plain.


It is this dialogue that makes the design of this sword interesting and challenging in my modest opinion.

Nonetheless a sword is not just a tsuba, but an entire concept that surrounds the blade which is another part of the whole in my opinion.

It it through this combination of furniture (koshirae) and the steel, that makes a sword unique in its entirety.

I was still able to personalize the sword by having a copper habaki with my six mon dot covered by a second layer half length habaki with a semi-circle contouring the mon in the first layer.

I might say that the six dot kamon I designed for me can be a way of identifying my swords from now on.

It is high time to speak about the blade itself. I called it the Seasoned Katana because it represents at my eyes an act of maturity from both Joe Walters' and my own destruction of my earlier designs, therefore, not being a Katana for all Seasons it is a Seasoned Katana.

Specifications:

Nagasa:
30 inches Motohaba: 1 2/8 inches Sakihaba: 1 inch Sori:1/2 inch
Steel:
1084 Shobu-Zukuri

Tsuka is 14 inches with a full wrap high quality samé in black leather tsukamaki perfectly done. The samé large nodule can be clearly seen in the wrap near the long kashira.
I have chosen a long kashira design to create a balance for the dramatic tsuba effect, adding a little more weight  to the tsuka's end.
A minor but important detail, not very orthodox but balancing, in my opinion.

These are first attempts at photographing the sword at the studio without too much set up.

A first try done one day after the sword's arrival. More attempts will be added to the review as the set up and the availability of more reflectors become available.

The shinogi-ji has been polished to a very high degree, possibly the highest mirror-like I have in my collection. Joe Walters uses an unconventional way to finish it to a more than mirror like polish while the ji was described by Joe as a mix of finger stones and mild etching to bring out the activities in the yakiba. And the habuchi is extremely bright. The hamon is loaded with activities, but is subdued until tilted for study.
These first hamon pictures speak for themselves. More pictures will be posted.

In short, more and more I feel the urge to see swords, no matter if katana or Western swords, getting a new design in all possible aspects. I have tried my best to do some work that may break with tradition without being considered a Fantasy Sword, a term that does not exist in my limited English vocabulary.
I
t is not a matter of vocabulary in fact, but rather of innovation or, if you like, of renovation.
S
miths such as Joe Walters, Rick Barrett, each in his own style, as well as many more are already pursuing this path of renovation.
Thanks to Joe Walters and Moonlit Forge some work has already been achieved in this aspect.
I
believe that the role of a designer is to also question if a certain shape can evolve rather than just accept what is given by the Past. And I hope I will very soon be able to confirm that working in creativity does not mean incompatibility with beautiful traditional work with different steels and its blending with a contemporary approach.

Early view of the fittings It could  be a kashira theme Early view of the metal sleeve The high quality samé

SOME OTHER OWNERS OF JOE WALTER'S WORKS
Jeff Ellis' tanto Ellis' tanto and a yari  blade Will Frisbee's yari  blade Frisbee's Naginata Naoshi

OTHER COMMENTS

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