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Jeremy Scott Steimel




Location: Champaign, IL
Joined: 24 Jan 2004

Posts: 105

PostPosted: Wed 05 Dec, 2007 1:41 pm    Post subject: Project Log: Rick Barrett custom katana         Reply with quote

Hey folks! Been quite awhile since I posted on here, but I've been pretty excited about a project I have going (and is starting to pick up steam). The project is a custom katana by Rick Barrett which is being given a very special (to me) dedication. Back when I was a little more active on here, I know people were always wanting to see some more Japanese pieces, so I thought maybe I'd start up a project log for the katana I have on the way. This first post will be a pretty big summary of everything up until now, and in the future I'll try to make smaller updates as things move along.

I consider myself very lucky to be able to call Rick a friend. It's probably been 8-9 years or so since I met Rick, and I've had the fortunate opportunity to visit his home on numerous ocassions and watch him work in the shop. In 2006 I made the trip to Rick's place for one of his annual seminars. The blade being used in the project is one I had a hand in on at the seminar. I got to add some pre-heat treat curvature, did some of the stress relief work, did the clay application, and the heat treatment. Of course, this was all done with Rick's strict supervision and corrections and would not have been possible otherwise!

This is the clay pattern I used. I wanted to try and get a rolling flame type look.

http://www.myArmoury.com/albums/photo/13505.html

Who's that handsom guy heating up some steel?

http://www.myArmoury.com/albums/photo/13503.html

Awhile after the heat treat was finished, Rick started cleaning up some of the blades and opening small windows so people could see how their hamon turned out. Since I was going to be staying an extra few days after the seminar to visit, I was last on the list, it was a painful wait! When Rick finally started cleaning up my blade, I'll never forget the look he gave me. Before I even got to see the spot he opened up, he was off to the grinder with my blade in hand. A little bit later, he gave me that same look again -- to be honest, I thought I had screwed something up and he was going to tell me he found a flaw! Instead, I got a laugh and a "Come look!" The blade had turned out quite nicely, and I was very proud. The below picture actually came a couple days after I left, after Rick had done a rough stage polish on to show some of the activity.

http://www.myArmoury.com/albums/photo/13504.html

I was pretty excited and knew immediately that I wanted to keep this sword to mount. I actually had another kat project going with Rick prior to this. He helped me make arrangements to sell that blade and everything was moved over to this new piece. I decided I wanted to go a fully custom route with this one.

Now, I've been following swords and doing my best to learn since I was in highschool. I've called this a hobby for a little over 10 years, and all I can say I've learned so far is that I don't know much. Happy However, pretty early on into my partaking in this great hobby I was very fortunate to get to meet and visit some great smiths, including Rick, Grandpa Meier, and more. And I got to attend a few very good custom shows and token kai and study some great blades. I knew early on that, even if it meant not owning my own sword for a long time, in the end I would be happier if I waited for something I really loved rather than getting a cheaper sword just to have one. Of course, the end product of that is a currently very small collection, but it's one that I'm very happy with (my first sword came about 5-6 years after I started reading forums and going to shows). This may seem like a completely random aside, but I suppose it's an explanation as to why a lot of time and thought went into this project.

Once I had decided that I would go fully custom with this blade, the first thing I wanted to decide on was a theme. This did not take much time, however. And within a day of having gotten home I was emailing Rick with my thoughts. This project is very personal to me, as I said before. I have two older brothers who passed away before I was born (and a surviving older sister). I decided that this sword would be themed as a tribute to my brothers, and the four siblings as a whole, and in hopes it would become a family heirloom. I spoke to Rick about this, and he liked the idea. He gave me the idea of doing a message on the nakago (tang) of the sword, which was a common practice on many blades made as tributes. I contacted a friend who had moved out west for college, majoring in linguistics and had taken many Japanese courses. We discussed a few different options, as what I wanted it to say exactly was not quite possible due to translation gaps. In the end, we settled on this:

兄と生命に捧ぐ
"I dedicate (this sword) to life, and to my elder brothers."

I passed this on to Rick, and before long the tribute was added: http://www.myArmoury.com/albums/photo/13500.html

Next up was the task of finding appropriate fittings. After deciding on the theme, I knew I wanted one part or another of the koshirae to reflect a tomoe design. I asked around a bit, and Brandon Thell came up with a set he was holding which had been custom made by Patrick Hastings. More than thrilled to have a shot at some Patrick Hastings fittings, I snagged the set up. The reason I wanted to get a tomoe feature was for the three commas to symbolize the three brothers. The set that Brandon had were pretty much perfect for what I was looking for.

http://www.myArmoury.com/albums/photo/13502.html

For the tsuba, I've gone back to Rick. While this isn't 100% finalized, I've most likely got one picked out. It's one of his folded pieces and it features a sakura theme (Cherry blossom). I wanted to feature a cherry blossom in one part of the fittings to symbolize my sister, who was born in early April (around the time when the sakura blooms are the most beautiful in many parts of Japan). My sister is a very caring, sympathetic type. I think having the sakura theme on the guard is fitting.

http://www.myArmoury.com/albums/photo/13501.html

So what's next? Well, the cause for my recent excitement is that the blade, I'm told, is hitting its spot in the polishing queue with Chris Osbornne towards the end of this week! So hopefully before long I'll have some pictures to show how the hamon turned out in a full polish!

More to come soon, hopefully! Happy

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Gabriel Lebec
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PostPosted: Wed 05 Dec, 2007 8:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Jeremy, what a great story! Very enjoyable. I think you can guess I'm one who would be happy to see more Japanese and Japanese-style items on myArmoury, so this is very welcome.

The sword definitely looks like it will be a very special one and I'm looking forward to seeing how that wild hamon turns out after polish.

Cheers,
-GLL

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science." - Albert Einstein
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Jeremy Scott Steimel




Location: Champaign, IL
Joined: 24 Jan 2004

Posts: 105

PostPosted: Mon 17 Mar, 2008 2:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The blade is all done with the polish, and even if the pictures are "quick" snaps, she's looking beautiful!






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Bennison N




Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Joined: 06 Feb 2008
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Posts: 416

PostPosted: Mon 17 Mar, 2008 3:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That hamon is awesome! I really like it.

The same with the tsuba. That's going to be a very good-looking sword.

I'm a big fan of custom personal swords. I think you guys have really done well with the blade on this one.

I can't wait to see it all finished.

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" - Confucius

अजयखड्गधारी
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Alex Oster




Location: Washington and Yokohama
Joined: 01 Mar 2004

Posts: 410

PostPosted: Mon 17 Mar, 2008 5:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great story.
Not a big fan of the tsuba, but fittings are a personal thing. Wink
That hamon is absolutely fantastic though! Great work!

The pen is mightier than the sword, especially since it can get past security and be stabbed it into a jugular.
This site would be better if everytime I clicked submit... I got to hear a whip crack!
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D. Austin
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
Joined: 20 Sep 2007

Posts: 208

PostPosted: Mon 17 Mar, 2008 6:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very nice hamon. I believe the technical term to describe such a pattern may be "funky". Big Grin

Do you know whether it has been etched or polished differentially on each side of the line to enhance the prominence of the hamon? Whatever he (and you) have done, it looks fantastic. I'm very impressed.

I do like the tsuba too. Personally I'd prefer it to be darker, the difference between the layers being more subtle but as Alex said, that's a matter of personal taste. I love the piercing design on it. Some of my favourite tsubas are simply flat plates with basic but elegant designs pierced in them.

Looking forward to seeing the end result.

Darren.


Last edited by D. Austin on Tue 18 Mar, 2008 12:23 am; edited 1 time in total
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Tim Lison




Location: Chicago, Illinois
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Mar, 2008 9:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

*Gasp* Wow. I don't usually go for the Japanese stuff (except the occasional sushi!), but that's just plain gorgeous! The hamon is breathtaking. I salute you, sir! Well played.
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Jeremy Scott Steimel




Location: Champaign, IL
Joined: 24 Jan 2004

Posts: 105

PostPosted: Tue 18 Mar, 2008 6:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you all for your kind replies. I believe the tsuba may actually be changing. The ideas in my mind for the rest of the fittings, besides the tomoe fuchi/kashira, have been a bit of a revolving door. But now that the blade is finished with the polish, I need to make up my mind soon.Happy
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Jeremy Scott Steimel




Location: Champaign, IL
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Posts: 105

PostPosted: Wed 19 Mar, 2008 5:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A few more shots from Chris...






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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 19 Mar, 2008 6:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looks really nice and almost " SCREAMS " don't touch with bare hands and ruin the finish. Wink Laughing Out Loud

I'm not an expert on Japanese blades but the hamon is very aesthetically pleasing. I also assume that the other blade qualities that make a good sword are equal to it's looks. Big Grin

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David Stokes





Joined: 23 Aug 2003

Posts: 250

PostPosted: Thu 20 Mar, 2008 9:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeremy, your dedication and patience on this project is really inspiring.
It would be my hope that EVERY "newbie" into this hobby could see what you said there and take it to heart...
the fact that you waited 5 years before purchasing a sword..... and the first thing you did was READ and LEARNED.....
those are huge words and very inspring to hear........
....... so often in this hobby we are blanketed by new comers who just want to get something to hang on the wall or dont care about all the mumbo jumbo, they just want a sword NOW NOW NOW...

this thread is really a breath of fresh air........

Congrats on a great blade from a great guy!

Rick is top notch! Your a lucky guy to own one of his..
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Kelly Powell




Location: lawrence, kansas
Joined: 27 Feb 2008

Posts: 123

PostPosted: Thu 20 Mar, 2008 10:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

add a little bronze work to the tsuba and let it all darken a little with age and it would look pretty good.
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Brian Kent





Joined: 26 Apr 2007

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PostPosted: Fri 21 Mar, 2008 3:15 am    Post subject: oooooooooooo         Reply with quote

You are a bad bad man Chris! I said it once, I'll say it again: Rick and Chris are a winning combination! I can't wait to see my blade. Rick is finishing it this week and then its off to Chris!
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Allen Andrews




Location: Maine USA
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PostPosted: Fri 21 Mar, 2008 4:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That is a beautiful sword! Such an incredible hamon. So many times I have been tempted to either have the sword I owned polished, of get a blade from one of the truly talented smiths that are around. I never seem to reach that point because I love to cut things, and I doubt I could bring myself to ruin such an amazing finish with use.
" I would not snare even an orc with a falsehood. "

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L.S. Lawrence





Joined: 16 Jan 2007

Posts: 65

PostPosted: Sat 22 Mar, 2008 3:14 pm    Post subject: Re: Project Log: Rick Barrett custom katana         Reply with quote

Jeremy Scott Steimel wrote:
...I got to attend a few very good custom shows and token kai and study some great blades. I knew early on that, even if it meant not owning my own sword for a long time, in the end I would be happier if I waited for something I really loved rather than getting a cheaper sword just to have one. Of course, the end product of that is a currently very small collection, but it's one that I'm very happy with.


Jeremy, you did a very wise thing.

Big hats off!

L.
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Jeremy Scott Steimel




Location: Champaign, IL
Joined: 24 Jan 2004

Posts: 105

PostPosted: Tue 09 Dec, 2008 7:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's finally finished, and I couldn't be more happy. I've actually had the blade in hand for a little over a week now. I've been hoping for a break in the gloomy weather to get a good day to take the sword outside and get some good up-close photos of the fittings. Unfortunately, the clouds have not cooperated in the least.

I picked up a new tsuba from Rick to use for the blade a couple months back. It had a black patina done for the final mount. The menuki are copper bars with an engraving pattern on them, which again I will try to photograph hopefully soon.

The polish was done by Chris Osbourne as mentioned before and turned out great. Also on the "To photograph" list is the other side of the blade, as some of the activities on the other side are a bit different and rather interesting.

For now... photographs. Happy



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Jordan A.





Joined: 09 Oct 2008

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PostPosted: Tue 09 Dec, 2008 9:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thats got to be one of the most beautiful katanas ive ever seen, really, really nice!!! Love the hamon Big Grin
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