As a kind of artistic knife decoration method, inlay is actually a perfect match for knives, because the technique of inlay has many overlaps with the skills required for knife making itself, so many inlays in the works of knife makers are also made by themselves. To illustrate with an example:
This is a great mother-of-pearl boi made by Royer in the early years. I personally think that the overall aesthetics of Royer’s works have declined after the popularity. In recent years, the works are a bit hard to describe, but they are still excellent before.
What is the essence of the inlay on the knife: cutting and grinding the material that is different from the body of the knife body, forming a specific shape and size to fit the knife body, and finally fixing it on it. Isn’t the making of the handle similar? Therefore, the knifesmith must make inlays by himself, and naturally has a certain reserve of skills. In contrast, the skill of engraving is relatively independent. Swordsmiths don’t know much about engraving, and even if they do, it is still far behind professional ones.
From an artistic point of view, if the basic production and decoration of a knife are done by the same person, the probability of becoming a high-quality knife will be higher. Because only the knife maker himself knows the artistic theme that the knife wants to express, how can the decoration best play the role of embellishment and present this theme? It’s all done by my own hands. So everyone try to look back at the works of the four art knives: Wolfgang, Jurgen, Walker, and Apu. You will find that their works are basically completed independently, and they seldom cooperate with others. However, the works of those sculptors and knife makers who are not the same person are relatively more prone to fragmentation. Those gorgeous patterns, whether they are carved on knives, other weapons or even objects, are similar.
Is there anyone who is very proficient in carving and making knives? Or even if the knife and the carving are made by different people, but the two are connected as if they are one? Of course, they are the legendary couple of carving heroes in our modern art knife world — Buster and Julie. The decoration and the main body of their works complement each other and can achieve the effect of 1+1>2.
This is my favorite Buster’s sword. The current works of the same kind are far from the original, and the gap is visible to the naked eye.
Chatting and talking about carving, it’s too divergent, let’s gather and summarize, the previous nonsense mainly elaborates three core points:
- Inlaying is a common decorative technique for art knives.
- There is a certain overlap between inlaying skills and knife-making skills, so there are many cases where both knife-making and inlaying are completed by one person.
- Both knife making and decoration are made by the same person, which is more conducive to the expression of artistic themes.
Closer to home, let’s go back to the inlay technique of the master Jurgen. I think that in the field of art knife inlay, Jurgen’s inlay difficulty is the same as that of knife making, which can be called the best in the world. His original multi-frame multi-material, multi-texture, multi-color three-dimensional inlay – I named it “Youshi inlay”. Looking at the knife world so far, he is the only one who can do it. It has stumped many newcomers who intend to learn from and imitate. How difficult is it? Let us reveal to you the ultimate mystery of this master’s mosaic technique from the shallower to the deeper.
Disclaimer: The inlay techniques are graded from easy to difficult, but the grade and value are not directly related. After all, the value of art knives involves many factors such as reputation, history, completion, absolute man-hours, materials, design, etc. The difficulty of inlay is only one aspect.
Level 1: Large block mosaic
Inlaying has a certain degree of difficulty due to the consideration of the size matching of the groove and the material, which requires relatively high precision. The core feature of large mosaic is the number of mosaic pieces is small, basically within single digits. Many traditional frame folding knives can be included in this category, the most typical one is the work of the founder of frame folding knives – Lake, as shown in the picture below:
▲K Kinglake folding knife
This is a K Gold Laker folding knife, which is worth a lot. Lake is the founder of Frame Folding Knife
There is a piece of deep-sea black fritillary inlaid in the center of the handle, and there are two pieces on the front and back. You know, before Lake, no one made a folding knife like this. Natural materials are usually directly attached. What are the benefits of inlaying materials within this frame?
One is to show off skills. Inlaying is still a little more difficult than patching. Think about it, if the inlaying groove I opened on the metal surface is too small for the material to fit in, then I can make the groove larger or cut the material smaller. That’s fine; but what if the mounting groove is larger than the material? Then this piece of material is useless. If the edges of the patch are uneven, just grind them together on the belt sander.
The second is that the metal on the edge of the frame leaves engraving space, such as the following picture:
▲Cooperative work between Lake and a Canadian master engraver
This is a collaborative work between Lake and a Canadian master engraver. The combination of mother-of-pearl, gold and stainless steel is really radiant
This helps to increase the added value of the knife, and both the knife maker and the engraver make a lot of money. It is not only because of craftsmanship, but also because of emotional intelligence or financial intelligence that Lake is able to reach his status (the father of modern folding knives).
Level 2: high repetition small mosaic inlay
The inlaid materials are generally relatively brittle natural materials, such as mother-of-pearl, stone, etc., so there is a risk of fragmentation during the cutting process. The more cuts, the greater the risk.
In addition, the smaller the size of the mosaic, the higher the precision requirements. I think there is no need to use a microscope or magnifying glass for a large mosaic, but this kind of mosaic is definitely not possible with the naked eye.
So that’s why this tessellation is more difficult than level 1. Let’s look at the picture first:
▲The leader of the new generation of art folding knives, the work of Emmanuelle
The mother-of-pearl in the shape of ginkgo leaves is closely arranged together, like fish scales, and the visual effect is very rich. This technique is quite popular in the field of European art knives at present. For example, the work of Antonio, another famous Italian folding knife maker:
The lines of Antonio’s works are a bit tougher than those of Emmanuel, and the mosaic styles of these two masters are somewhat similar.
As can be seen from the above two pictures, there are many repeated elements in this type of mosaic, and the mosaic materials are basically cut into small pieces of the same size and shape, and then spliced together. Why do you do that? Because it saves trouble, a large number of small mosaic pieces of the same specification can be cut out with one template. As long as the size of the template is correct, the size of all the small mosaic pieces is no problem.
Let’s take a look at the production process to see at a glance:
Uniformly cut the mother-of-pearl into a small piece of rhombus, and drill holes at the vertices of the rhombus after arranging them
The rhombus is spliced piece by piece, and a small golden cylinder is placed at the apex
▲The final mosaic effect
By the way, do you think this kind of mosaic looks familiar? When I first came into contact with the inlays of Emmanuelle and others, I felt familiar. It seemed to have an obvious European modern design style, but I can’t say what it is. Then one day I happened to see the lines on my wife’s bag, and suddenly realized:
Look at the grain design of these bags, the original style is amazingly consistent with the mosaic inlays of those European knife makers! The reason behind it is unknown, and it is out of the scope of this article. Perhaps a textured design like the one above the bag is more suitable for mass production?
The level 3: low repetition small mosaic inlay
This level adds a difficulty to the previous level: low repetition. This means that it is not possible to cut the mosaic material through a fixed template, because each piece of material may be different in size and shape. If the inlaid materials are still different, it means that the problems caused by the differences in hardness and toughness of different materials need to be overcome, and the cutting tools may have to be replaced. Let’s take an example:
▲Jurgen’s follower-AKI master craftsman Ken’s. This is Ken’s most high-end straight knife
This is the most high-end work of Ken, a famous AKI craftsman. The mosaic of this mosaic has a very low repetition rate, and the shape and size are quite different. The materials also use three kinds of tortoise shell, meteorite and gold. In terms of hardness, meteorite is the highest, and tortoise shell is the highest. Secondly, gold again, the material properties are still very different.
▲AKI famous craftsman Antonio’s work
Although there are only two kinds of materials used for the inlay of this famous AKI craftsman Antonio, the shape of the inlay is not repeated, and the visual effect is excellent. Some knife friends told me that it looks like the dome of the airport, and I deeply agree. The strong contrast between the white mother-of-pearl and the black material works really well. And the radiant color of mother-of-pearl looks like clouds in the sky.
At this level of inlay, basically few knifesmiths can do it, and even if there are, it is used on the rare masterpieces of this knifesmith’s career. Most of the mosaic difficulty only stays above the first and second levels of difficulty.
Level 4: three-dimensional mosaic
Most of the art knife inlays are flat. For example, the thickness of the inlaid material is the same for the first three levels. But what if the thickness is inconsistent? Then there is one more dimension to consider, and the thickness of the material needs to be changed to suit the design. This undoubtedly increases the difficulty of implementation.
As far as I know, three-dimensional mosaic technology is only used in the works of two people: Dongxie Wolfgang and Nishidou Jurgen. However, the characteristics of these two great gods are quite different: they also deal with the thickness changes of materials, Wolfgang likes to show it outside, and Jurgen likes to hide it inside. Let us take a look at the typical works of these two great gods:
▲One of Wolfgang’s folding knives: Lauren Lai
One of my favorite Wolfgang folding knives: Lauren Leigh
Here Wolfgang used three different materials: mother-of-pearl, Damascus steel and gold. The number of single-sided mosaic pieces is not too many, only 8. But it is obvious that these inlaid small pieces are not flat, and all have certain ups and downs. You can see that there is a small piece of mother-of-pearl at the front and rear ends of the mosaic frame, carved as round as water droplets.
▲The sharpest Jurgen works
Sharpest Jurgen piece I know, hook style
This Jurgen looks like the previous low-repetition mosaic inlay, but it is not. Please note that the three frames of the inlay are not horizontal, but inclined to a certain extent, but the base is horizontal. In other words, the thickness of each inlay inside is not the same, and the thickness of the same inlay also varies. This description is more abstract, and I will explain it with a cutaway diagram in the next level of introduction.
Here we find a very interesting phenomenon, which I mentioned earlier, is also a three-dimensional sculpture. Wolfgang likes to show the thickness changes to the outside. The ups and downs of the mosaic surface are very clear and intuitive. Jurgen likes to hide it inside. If you don’t carefully consider the inclination relationship between the inlay plane and the base, it will be difficult to discover the mystery in a while.
This is actually directly related to the artistic styles of the two. Wolfgang pays attention to the agility of natural curves, so whether it is the grinding of the blade or the inlay of the handle, this undulating change must be reflected. But Jurgen pays attention to highly abstract straight lines and planes, which determines that his inlays must remain flat on the surface. Two of the world’s top art knife masters coincidentally adopted a difficult mosaic technique that others rarely try, but each has a completely different style of expression, which is memorable.
The fifth level: Youshi mosaic (multi-frame, multi-material, multi-texture, multi-color three-dimensional mosaic)
Friends who have the patience to see here, congratulations, next you will see the most thorough explanation of Jurgen’s mosaic technique in China. You’s inlay is the most difficult inlay technique in the entire field of art knives. Its difficulty is as high as the sum of the previous four levels. Currently, only Jurgen can do it. Let’s expand in a few points:
- Multiple frameworks
What is a frame? A frame is a constraint, and a frame means difficulty.
Looking back at the previous four difficulties, all the works that appeared were single-sided, single-frame or single-sided with few frames. Why do you say that the more frameworks, the more difficult it is? For each frame, the problem of matching the shape and size of the mosaic block and the frame must be solved once. Cutting too big or too small will not work, it must be tight fit.
Speaking of this, some people will have doubts. The number of mosaic inlays with a single frame can range from dozens to hundreds. Doesn’t it also need to be cut very accurately without deviation? Really not, the difficulty of a single frame is indeed much lower. Let me draw two pictures to explain to you:
Before the mosaic, the white one on the left is the frame, and the three-color blocks on the right are the mosaic materials. To simplify the problem, we only consider the height and assume that the widths are all equal. Let’s try to fill the color block into the frame:
We found that after filling the frame, the length of the green mosaic piece exceeded, so we needed to make a cut to cut off the small part of the green mosaic, and the mosaic was perfectly completed.
Did you find it? In fact, in the whole process, what really needs to accurately control the size is the last piece of material filled in! It doesn’t matter if the rest of the material is longer or shorter as long as it doesn’t exceed the edge of the entire frame. So we say that the single frame is relatively simple, and it is simple here.
This is not the case with multiple frames. Each frame needs to independently consider the issue of precise size matching, especially when the frame is relatively small, it is a nightmare for the handicapped.
Whether to use multiple frames is a watershed between Jurgen’s high-end mosaic works and ordinary works. For example, those Jurgen in front have only three frames on a single side, but high-end mosaic works, such as large kitchen knives, have only three frames. Nearly 30 on one side! The top ones even exceed 40! Note that it is one-sided, double-sided has to be multiplied by 2.
This Jurgen knife is also a three-frame, but it is already a low-repetition mosaic three-dimensional inlay, the fourth level of difficulty.
▲This is the most high-end Jurgen, there are more than 40 single-sided frames
- Multi-color and multi-material
Bright colors and rich layers are the goals that high-end mosaic works hope to achieve. But there’s a trickier way to achieve rich, vibrant colors: using natural materials that already have such an effect. Speaking of this, everyone must be very clear that mother-of-pearl is such an excellent art knife inlay material, and a single material can achieve multi-color effects.
▲Emmanuelle likes to use mother-of-pearl inlays
Emmanuel likes to use mother-of-pearl for inlays, especially this kind of deep-sea black mother-of-pearl, which is radiant.
However, Jurgen chose not to do this, preferring to achieve a similar effect by using a more laborious combination of materials in different colors. I have thought about the reasons behind his doing this: If Wolfgang’s artistic concept is to follow nature, and he likes smooth, continuous, and gradual curves, because real nature is full of these things; then Jurgen’s artistic concept It is man who conquers nature, he does not like to directly quote natural things, but deduces them after artificially abstracting and discretizing them.
To put it more bluntly: Wolfgang’s works make you feel that it is a natural growth, and it is a masterpiece of “articles are born naturally, and you get it by chance”; Jurgen’s works make you feel that this must not be natural. things, leaving deep traces of human civilization.
It seems that the topic is a bit far away. Back to multi-color and multi-material, Jurgen used a variety of materials in the inlay: gold, glass, rock, opal, bakelite, hematite, mixed lapis lazuli, water Horn, tortoise shell, mammoth tooth, mother-of-pearl, etc., there are dozens of types. Of course, there will not be so many material combinations on the same work, but there are always seven or eight types. The cutting characteristics of different materials are naturally different, and considering the multi-frame problem mentioned above, I also doubt whether Jurgen has a tendency to masochistic. What can be done with a piece of mother-of-pearl is so troublesome? Therefore, it is admirable for real artists to persist in their artistic concepts.
This is one of my favorite Jurgen. The combination of mosaic materials is very rich. I don’t know why this combination reminds me of the keywords of wheat field, universe and alien.
This kind of treatment is also only seen in Jurgen’s high-end works. Looking at the first four grades of mosaic, the surface of the mosaic block is basically smooth, but Jurgen took an unusual path. In order to enrich the layers of the mosaic surface, he took the trouble to carve different shapes on the surface of different materials. Same texture! Let me illustrate with an example:
▲Jurgen’s high-end inlay-cosmetic box
The picture above is Jurgen’s high-end mosaic works. I marked the mosaic blocks with different surface texture treatment methods with white lines, whether there are no grains, vertical grains, horizontal grains, twill grains, cross grains, etc. The density of the grains is also different. Change. It is also worth mentioning that the area pointed by the white line on the upper left looks like there are many vertical stripes on the surface. In fact, it is not carved out, but the same material is cut into very thin long strips and spliced together in the frame. from! The cutting ground is very thin, less than one millimeter, and the arrangement is very tight. It is said that the nails can’t find the seams. Basically, I have never seen thinner inlays on art knives. Obviously, it is possible to replace it with a large piece of material without cutting it, but it is so self-abuse, it is really speechless.
- Three-dimensional mosaic
The three-dimensional mosaic has already been explained in the difficulty level 4 above, so why expand it here? Sao Nian, the ultimate meaning of Youshi’s mosaic is so simple, the three-dimensional mosaic technique has reached an unimaginable peak in Jurgen’s hands!
When we talked about three-dimensional mosaic, some friends may not understand it very well. Let’s take a look at this section diagram:
The blue rectangle is the base of the tessellation, which is a horizontal plane. The triangles are the frames, and the color blocks are the mosaic pieces. Since the frame of Jurgen’s work is not a horizontal plane, but an inclined plane, the thickness of each mosaic block is different, and it is a trapezoid.
Combined with the multi-frames mentioned above, here you can easily understand how accurate the cutting of the mosaic block is: not only must the four sides be tightly stitched, but also the thickness must be well controlled, otherwise the entire mosaic slope will appear uneven.
However, Jurgen was not satisfied with this. He intentionally lowered the height of some mosaic blocks (such as the green mosaic block in the diagram) and covered them with a layer of crystal glass to keep the entire mosaic plane flat. different mosaic color blocks have differences in visual depth, some are on the main plane, and some are under the main plane.
Even better, due to the multi-frame structure, the side walls of the mosaic are metal, see the red line in the picture above. Jurgen intentionally polished these parts very smooth, just imagine what effect it will have? Please see the picture below:
▲The inlay of Jurgen’s large kitchen knife
The inlaid stone at the bottom will form a reflection effect on the smooth side wall of the frame, and reflect into the human eye through the crystal glass, forming a very wonderful visual effect.
It’s wonderful! I highly suspect that all Jurgen’s previous self-abuse behaviors that challenged the difficulty were all for this highlight moment!
The reason why multiple frames are used is that the inlaid side walls can be polished and smooth to have a reflective effect.
The reason why three-dimensional mosaic is used is to create high and low depth, so that there is the possibility of reflection.
The reason why the texture is engraved on the material is to reflect the visual effect more brilliantly.
The reason why it is covered with transparent crystal glass is to allow the reflected light to be seen while maintaining the overall consistency of the mosaic surface.
Master You, if you can understand this article and know that there is a fan of yours in China thousands of miles away, after hard thinking and meditation, you finally understand your ingenuity and find the ultimate easter egg you hide in it. Be very pleased.
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