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L6 Daito by Howard Clark

Polish and mount by Keith Larman

Antique Fittings

Elaborate Gloss Saya with Dragon Motif


This was a fun project. The customer kindly gave me complete freedom to finish the sword as I had envisioned the piece. When I received the blade it struck me as such a wonderfully shaped, traditional blade that I wanted to use very traditional high end fittings and mount it up accordingly. But at the same time this was a Howard Clark L6 bainite sword. So fully modern steel, near indestructible, and beautiful in a rather unique way. So I decided I wanted to push the limits of what I had been doing in terms of finishing of the saya with this piece.

And some quick shots of the blade details.

The fittings are some very nice dragon motif fittings. The tsuka is a full wrap of very high grade same' from Japan wrapped with black doeskin tsukaito. I built the tsuka but sent it up to Robin Ramirez for tsukamaki as I have trouble now with allergic reactions to scrapes against rayskin.

Detail of the tsuba.

The saya fades from a deep, dark blue into a black. In the right light it looks almost black as in the photo above. But get enough light on it and the blue becomes evident.

But what I did to add some extra interest to the saya was to paint a dragon deeply inside the finish coming up from the dark black at the base of the saya into the "clear" blue above. In normal light the dragon is not visible. But hit it with the light straight on and...

The dragon turned out to be a huge amount of work. I started off wanting to do something relatively simple, but as I researched dragons, the customs, the details, well, what I wanted evolved into something a lot more involved. Next time I'm charging a *lot* more for this kind of stuff. ;) It was interesting and a great "proof of concept". But it was a lot of work and extra expense to pull this off.

The dragon was done in mutiple layers with a lot of detail work done to give him "texture", a 3-dimensional feel, and simple to make it more "alive". Here are a few closeups to see what I'm talking about. Please note that the dragon only pops out like that when the light is shining on it directly. Otherwise it is very sedate and understated if visible at all.

I must say I greatly appreciate the customer's patience and willingness to let me explore the possibilities with this sword. I learned a lot doing this and may do it again sometime. But it was one of those things that seemed like a fun idea but became incredibly complex once I got going on it.

I hope you enjoy the photos.





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