Mokume gane

Steve Midgett’s book is called “Mokume Gane in the Small Shop” and
there is also a video cassette that he has made that is set up like
the book. Both are good ways to learn how to make small billets of
mokume gane. There is also you can download from James
Binnion on his mokume gane website, I’ll have to dig for the
address, it’s part of Enrique’s ArtMetal website. I took a workshop
from Bob Coogan last year and he learned much of what he knows from
Hiroko and Gene Pijanowski and we built a furnace of firebricks,
kiln shelves and a small blower fed by propane. We could fit fairly
large billets in there. Keep searching both orchid files and the
internet at large and you’ll find lots of on the

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Jim Binnion’s site is . I took his
class at the Revere Academy and thought it was great. He uses an
electric kiln rather than gas. You can’t create a reducing
environment in an electric kiln (unless someone knows how to do
it). With oxygen present, oxidation occurs quickly as the metal
heats and this is what prevents a good bond from developing.
Binnion puts charcoal around the metal that is pressed between 2
compression plates. The whole thing is wrapped with stainless
steel tool wrap and put in the electric kiln set at slightly below
the eutectic temperature (see McCreight’s “The Complete Metalsmith”
pg 182). The whole thing is left overnight to heat-soak. I tried it
in my shop and I have not had the same success even though I used
the exact same equipment. I did not get a complete bond and it
delaminated under stress. I have not tried Steve Midgett’s kiln,
but I do have the video and book for reference. Of course, there is
Phillip Baldwin who lives in Everett, WA. I don’t think he has a
Web site though. He makes stock for mokume that he sells through
Reactive Metal Studios in Clarkdale, AZ. They have a site if you want to see their product
line. Mokume is very beautiful and exotic, and, from what I can
tell, very few people have successfully mastered the technique. I
wonder if it is not OK just to buy the metal already laminated. I
think it saves a lot of headaches. The jeweler should really spend
his precious time focusing on creating the patterning rather than
the raw material ,unless you are like me, and you find some
perverse pleasure in starting with only something that can be
looked up in the Periodic Table.

Doug Sperr

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