RICK BARRETT'S BLADE
Not very often
are we given the opportunity to look at something and say: that is it.
This happened to me when I saw Rick Barrett's blade below, in
its raw, unpolished state. There were two similar style blades, and I gave
precedence to one that was chosen by a very dear friend. I don't think I
lost or gained anything. I just opted for this particular blade, which had
an amazing activity.
Then came the creative process
which took some hesitations, using readily available fittings that always
left me hanging in the air with a feeling of dissatisfaction, while
Rick Barrett bore with me my hesitations.
As usual with me, when a creative problem arises, I slept over it
and let my mind clean itself on worrying how would the process would
Katsujin-ken paradox had to be resolved and I would have to find a
means to express it, as opposed to the Satsujin-ken, the Life-taking
sword which I abhorred.
Once more, as I grew detached of the issue, the solution came to me.
It was obvious that the sword had to be a sword of Light,
something that had to symbolically and physically shine and become
something subject to the contingency of the evolution of the entire
process of a blade. At that time I was also designing my own mon
and that gave me the final personalization that I required.
mon could be simplified to six dots displayed hexagonally,
So the theme was found and silver fittings were what I felt could better
represent the symbolism of Light from the sword. Black would have
to be the remaining color.
The Katsujin-Ken is an idea that is dear to me for its
meaning: Life Giving Sword embodying in such a denomination a
philosophical approach that had to carry a precious look.
blade had so much rich activity even in the raw, that I was immediately
attracted to it. It would shine in different ways, a work of art that just
asked me to listen to its voice with my own ears.
To me it demanded to be treated and adorned like a jewel, so it
I designed a contemporary style sword which would reflect and not
conflict with the traditional style of the blade, but would hopefully
were designed by me and done by Patrick
Hastings while the now polished blade showed all its magnificence.
PATRICK HASTINGS FITTINGS
and more the blade and the mountings were getting closer to the virtuality
of the design
The sword was subject to a lengthy process in which Patrick
Hastings had to deal with the technical problems of reproducing the
mon in a white background in the fittings. Some attempts were
made as it was not an easy task.
Also, as my own choice, the surfaces were all very plain and flat and made of pure
silver, which made them vulnerable to the weather and to scratch.
But that was the price for an art piece of predominant jewelry
However I wanted this sword fittings not for cutting purposes, but
basically an art sword, a blend of a traditionally made forge folded blade
with a more contemporary vocabulary for the fittings and even saya.
It had to be a piece of jewelry, a treasure dressing a treasured blade of
which Enomoto Sadaito, Rick Barrett's
mentor and teacher, said it was an amazing work of art, a master- piece.
This blade, which is extremely sharp, is a blade of contemplation and
of an inner journey, not a sword for doing imaginary battles, that so many
are fond to call battle ready.
Then Patrick had to carve the horimono in the omote side
of the blade's shinogi-ji, according to my exact specifications, which
would also have to match the style of kanji characters that were in the tsuba.
Reason why Patrick did it.
Actually the kanji positioning on the tsuba was pretty intriguing
since it appeared reverse and facing the blade.
The choice was mine and
had to do with my own symbolist world of presenting the kanji in the
direction of an opponent. That is when the sword would achieve all
its meaning, in my own interpretation. It would be to go back into the
As the work evolved, Rick Barrett kept sending me some
pictures to view how things were heading.
I had by this time forgotten about the blade's length, and my
original request for a 14 inches tsuka had to change.
nagasa was 27 inches I recalled then, when I saw the tsuka in
the raw so I asked Rick to cut it short as it was too long for
the blade length.
This is why it is important to keep communication when
something is in the making.
This picture still shows the tsuka with the original 14 inches tsuka
which is my preferred length, along with a 29 inches blade length.
complicated task was the saya.
There was an early misinterpretation of the saya from the
as they were taken for grooves instead of rings in silver.
Therefore Rick had to carve the grooves in the saya.
I decided for eight grooves separated by the silver kurikata, instead
of the early ten grooves and I'm happy I did that.
After the grooves were cut with precision, Rick Barrett
had to make strips of 8 mm silver pieces that would have to fit the
grooves with entire precision.
These pieces would then be bent around the grooves and then
would have to be welded together without hurting the wood. Another
precision work and I would very much like to express my gratitude to
Rick Barrett for this painstaking job, but I was also very
confident because he is also a very good jeweler, so I knew he could
Once this painstaking job was done, the primed saya was then
lacquered and polished a number of times. It must have been a
painstaking job, but I believe it is well worth it. The outcome was,
in my opinion a superb job.
THE BLADE'S ACTIVITY
Kissaki of the shinogi-zukuri