Home Home

mokume gane Tsuba
Knifemaker's Mokume For

Pattern Gallery Pattern Gallery

History History of

Tips and Techniques Tips and

About Us About Us

Links Links

Contact Contact

About the Company

Shining Wave Metals was founded in 1983 by Phillip Baldwin, a member of the original SIU Mokume Research Group, to produce exotic metals on a commercial basis. Mokume-gane and Japanese Alloys were introduced as a product line in 1984 and have been made ever since. Shining Wave Metals is located in the Puget Sound region of Washington State in the USA.

A Brief History of Shining Wave Metals  ~ by Phillip Baldwin

One of the first things I and my fellow grads learned when working on the SIU Mokume Research Project was that the fabrication of this material was very labor intensive. Days of work were needed to simply make the mokume, which would then be incorporated into a work. The allocation of time was reverse of what it should have been, ideally the majority of time on a work should be in non-repetitive high skill or concept work. It was obvious that in order to do anything with mokume-gane, the process of making had to be accelerated and made more certain. The invention of the "torque plate" by Marvin Jensen and other processes reduced the time required by at least 60%, allowing more time to be spent on object/concept development.

Upon graduation, my work in mokume-gane continued. Two things became apparent with continued work. The first was that the main interest in mokume was as a jewelry material, rather than as a hollowware material. This implied an orientation toward mokume made of precious metals rather than base metals. The second was that in order to truly develop the potential of the material many people would have to work with it. After teaching many workshops, I found that the process was still too complicated and the tooling too different from what is found in most jewelry fabrication studios. I decided to make the tooling and knowledge developed over the years available in the form of pre-manufactured mokume-gane for use by studio jewelers and metalsmiths. Shining Wave Metals Mokume-gane was born.

I quickly found that making mokume-gane on a production basis was very different from making it for studio use. Offering enough different types of mokume to fill different needs, from blank stock for pattern development to pre-patterned sheet in several different alloy combinations, soon lead to staggering number of items to manufacture. Luckily the marketing and distribution aspect of the business was taken over by Reactive Metals Studio, otherwise the complexity of the operation would have been crushing. New forms of decorative laminated metals (another term for mokume-gane) are continuously being developed, there is no end in sight, either for the material or its applications.

Today, I feel that the use of decorative laminated metals is still in its infancy and I find this a heartening thought. It means that the world of mokume will always be fresh, new and fun.


Shining Wave Metals and Reactive Metals Studio shared an MJSA/AJM 2004 Innovation Award.

© P. Baldwin 2009