Mokume vessel collaboaration with David Huang,

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Ok, I've been meaning to update this project of ours and now that it has begun to get nasty outside it seemed like a good time. I have many pictures to add, so I have created a simple system in which to analyze them to better understand what you are seeing. The system is just two pictures of the billet, and then an alphabetical sequence to follow with descriptions. Hopefully you find it somewhat interesting and enjoyable.
mokume billet 1amokume billet 1amokume billet1bmokume billet1b

The first image is A: This image shows the billet hammered down by hand from 23/32nd thick to about 1/4inch. I don't really remember the amount of time that this took. I was using a 3 pound hammer on a 120 pound anvil, and I usually worked on it while I was waiting for another project to be pulled from the pickle. In this picture you will notice that I had begun patterning. Nothing to fancy, just swirls.

mokume billet patterningmokume billet patterning

The second image is B: This image shows the size that the billet has stretched to while being forged down to roughly 1/4 inch thick. The billet is just over 6 inches long x

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The third image is C: This image shows the width of the forged billet. In this picture it is approximately 4 and 3/8 inches wide.

mokume billet4mokume billet4

The fourth image is D: This image shows the thickness of the billet. You may notice that the sides of the billet have been flooded with solder. This was done to help keep the sides from de-laminating while forging the billet down. It shows that the billet is about a 1/4 of an inch thick. Hammering this down from the original size was quite difficult. I would appreciate any advise anyone would have about power hammers. Is it possible to set a stop on a power hammer for thickness? What I mean is - Lets pretend that I am hammering down a billet and I do not want to go thinner then 18 gauge. Is it possible to set a stop so that the hammer doesn't smash the two hammer faces all-the-way together? I realize that normally you would just hammer down to a specific stopping point, anneal, and then run your metal through a rolling mill. My problem is that I want to create sheets larger than my Durston 158mm mill. Any answers are welcome. Thanks!

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The fifth image is E: In this image you can see that the billet is rectangle. I had debated prior to fusing the billet whether to fuse it square or rectangle. I had decided that I would fuse as much metal as my jig would hold, basically just to see what would happen. All of my billets prior had been fused through the use of a mini kiln that I had made using the directions from Steve Midgett's book Mokume Gane A Comprehensive Study ISBN 0-9651650-7-8. Of all of my prior billets fused, the largest sheet I managed to make was a 6 x 6 inch square about 14 gauge thick. I wanted to try and make something bigger. As you can see in the picture I wanted to be able to save the metal that wasn't patterned and I still wanted to be able to create my large disc. I decided to mark the largest circle that I could get, and cut it out of the billet. In doing this I figured that I could claim the unpatterned part of the billet for a future project. Otherwise the billet would keep getting forged down and in the end I would just have thin sheets to pattern. In hindsight I wish I had started the patterning over to the side more- not directly in the middle- so that I would have had a square of cut-off not two strange shapes.

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The sixth image is F: So I began a long and tedious journey. Cutting my 1/4 inch billet with my jewelers saw.

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The seventh image is G: What was I thinking????!!!! This is horrible... But, I was half way done...

mokume billet8
mokume billet8

The eighth image is H: I survived! My billet is about half the size it was before...depressing, but it is now going in the right direction. In this picture you can see that it has just been annealed. It has a slight red glow, and trust me I made sure it wasn't going to roll off into my lap. It was tilted at an angle up against the fire brick. Its just hard to tell in the photo.

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The ninth image is I: I threw this photo in so that you could see one of my in-progress pieces. I thought that since I was working with David Huang, I would raise a copper disc. This piece started out as a 14 gauge copper disc. When it was raised to the point that I wanted it I filled it with wax and began chasing it. Then through the process I repousse'd it and used the snarling irons in it. So here it is waiting for me to finish the mokume.

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The tenth image is J: In this image you can see that I am continuing to work on hammering the billet down and working on the pattern at the same time. The pattern is starting to overlap itself and look appealing.

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The eleventh image is K: This is another image showing the pattern. You can see the layers in the oxidization. The billet has just been annealed so it is easier to see.

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The twelfth image is L: This is the side of the billet. Remember that the last time that you saw it it was covered by solder. I had planned on doing this again, but never did it. Here in this picture you can see the layers. You can see that in order to cut down on cleaning I used thicker copper sheets towards the bottom of the billet. These sheets would never be exposed, so I put the thinner sheets that you would see towards the top. By patterning a third of the thickness of the billet the thinner layers would be exposed and create more complicated pattern.

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The thirteenth image is M: Here is the sheet almost finished. In this picture I have just annealed it and you can see that the pattern is a circle in the middle of the sheet. In this picture the disc is about 14 gauge thick.

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The fourteenth image is N: In this image the sheet has been pickled and sanded. This is the size that I will deliver to David. The sheet is 7 and 1/8th inches diameter by 14 gauge thick.

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The fifteenth image is O: In this image you can see that I have arrived safely at David's studio in Sand Lake Michigan. Here he is holding the largest disc that I made for him. When I met with him I gave him a few other sheets that I had fused, forged, and patterned. He has started raising these smaller sheets as tests before he raises the large sheet.

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These images are from David Huang's website: This is one of the test sheets that I gave him, that he has raised. I think that it looks very nice and I am very excited for what is to come from our collaboration in the future!




Well, I hope that you enjoy our project. We will be continuing to test more mokume sheets and then we will be fusing and raising more beautiful mokume combinations. The hope is that we can make mokume vessels that are raised and chased in a new way- A way that no one has ever seen them before. If you would like to see David Huang's take on the collaboration project please check out his website at:, and if you have any comments please leave them on

Thank you for your interest! Sincerely, David Barnhill

Dick C's picture

This looks like a great

This looks like a great collaboration. I love Davids vessels and am really looking forward to seeing what he does with this. Thanks! I wish you the best of luck with the project.

warren's picture


David, very nice explanation of the process. Sure does look like tons of work and a whole lot of time. The bowl looks pretty cool with the pattern of the mokume.

www Metalrecipes -- heat and beat to the desired shape, repeat as necessary.

marilyn's picture

I admire David's work and

I admire David's work and admire how hard you worked to make the sheet. I would think you would want to try raising a bowl yourself. Is there any problem with delamination while he is raising and annealing?


visitor's picture


great reading about your process. Very thorough. Just found out about this on David H. FB page......I'll be following your blog and work. Wonderful collaboration, IMO. You both do such great work......the collaboration will be nothing short of "excellence".

;)........yo Warren, Dick, Marilyn ;)