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QUESTION: Dear Thomas,

I received your email but could not reply immediately as by that time (January 12, 2014) as you were having holidays.

Normally, about mid of autumn to next year's mid spring is our rainy season in Indonesia. But the season is not that normal anymore. I heard in the news that your country had record breaking lowest temperature which very difficult to imagine for those who live in the equator like me.

While for Indonesia specially the city where I live Jakarta, the rain fall during rainy season is not peaking gradually but in 1 single rain which lasted for several hours, has reached the peak of rain fall. As if the rain clouds were compressed altogether in that rain.

Beginning this year, Indonesia had another calamity for "bonus". Another volcano in East Java(Mount Kelud) erupted on the next day after Valentine's Day. The eruption was short but very violent. The cities located 200 km away from the volcano were covered by 3 cm to 5 cm thick volcanic ash. Fortunately, the wind blows to other direction so that the volcanic ash never reached at Jakarta.

Just want to share with you, I am now waiting for my another keris to finish. This time is Balinese Keris. The most important thing is I asked the smith to include a slice of metal meteorite (about 200 gram) for pamor (pattern appear on the keris blade)
The production started on November 2013 and by now, it will take another 2 to 3 months to finish.

Like before I will let you know the result.

Regards,
Donny.

ANSWER: Donny, it is good to hear from you. Some of the natural events in your part of the world, including disasters in Philippines and volcanoes have me concerned for the people.  I am cetainly not used to that sort of nature in action. We have much rain and ice and problems from that, flooding in some parts of the USA and tornados.  Fortunately, my location has been favorably spared the worst events. The quite low temperature was a concern for several times. I would do what I could to keep water pipes in the home protected and check on those during the night.  There was a concern of pipes freezing then leaking a spray of water in the home. We were blessed in that our electricity did not fail but one time and that was for only 4 or 5 hours.  Longer than that would have meant finding some source of warmth or leaving for a while to wait for relectrical power to return.  We are used to having 4 definite seasons, each with a particular sort of weather expectation. To have a reasonably warm climate all year would be strange to me, or living beneath the equator and having summer when we nomally have winter!

I am curious how the meteorite slice will be part of the blade, from forming the metal in forging or by joining the slice as a decorative section.  This is exciting. You are exploring many directions it appears to me. I believe the form of the keris is one I discovered previously but will do a search to see its form again.

Donny, your communication is quite worthwhile and is valued.  Now, in my part of the world the time has come to sleep...zzzzzzzzzzzz....   God Bless and Peace, with safety.  Thomas.

I am intrigued with the inclusion of metallic metorite in the

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QUESTION: Dear Thomas,

Actually, the idea of using a slice of meteorite is an old idea. The smiths of the past (called "mpu") have done it many times. Due to modern technologies, it is easier now to forge a blade (not with melting-and-casting) with this material but still get the beautiful blade as the result.

Traditionally, ancient smiths believed that the meteorite is both materially and spiritually special. Materially means, it is considered as precious material that if forged carefully, will have unusual beautiful blade. Spiritually means it has power of the sky which is more powerful in supernatural power.

Forging such kind of blade also has a meaning which is : unification of heaven (sky), earth and human (the smith).

Since it utilizes the meteorite blade, the process is more complicated than the one that is not using such material. Not all meteorite is spiritually good to be forged in a keris blade. So the smith will have a ritual to see whether the slice is a positive one or negative one or at least a neutral one.

The way of meteorite arrive on earth is also to be considered. The smith will avoid of using the meteorite slice which killed human or caused massive damage (like Chelyabinsk Meteorite) when it arrived on earth. Otherwise, the blade forged with such meteorite has a blood-thirsty tendency.

Other than the special rituals, the forging process itself is also very complicated. Main composition of metallic meteorite is a natural ferro-nickel alloy plus other substances which make it harder than manufactured metal bars. This alloy cannot be forged immediately like manufactured metal bars. If the smith forge it just like that, it will shattered to small pieces. The correct one is that the meteorite slice must be correctly processed so that it is evenly distributed in the pamor pattern without being destroyed.

Before internet era, almost impossible to get a slice of meteorite (other than waiting one of meteors to fall nearby) because the relatively big meteorite was secured by keraton of Surakarta (Palace of Surakarta) and only for palace use. Now it's different, I purchased it from ebay.

That's all the knowledge that I acquire when dealing with meteorite materials for pamor.

Have a good rest and a good dream,
Donny.

ANSWER: Donny,

Thank you for added information on the keris.  I suspected spiritual conditions were assigned to the blade and the materials for forming it.  Now I know much more.   The pamor pattern is fascinating. I refer to the pattern of lighter colored nickel iron within the steel body.   As for other decorative pattern and forms on the blade closer to the hilt, I realize special forging or even hand cutting may be needed to create the patterns.  

In this country we are familiar with a form of steel blades (and barrels for hand guns and long guns) called Damascus steel.  As I understand, the particular forging may have originated in India and spread through the Eastern and Middle Eastern civilizations.   Different cultures developed particular forms of blades and patterns.   While the typical Damascus steel I know is made from folding multiple layers of high carbon and low carbon steel many many times by the hammer of the forge, the intent was primarily for strength and some blacksmiths learned to control the patterns of the different metals to produce artistry in the pattern.

With the addition of nickel iron meteorite in forging the keris, a more definite pattern is visible because of colors of the mixed metals.  I imagine some form of etching may be used to more strongly bring out the pattern of the forge welded mixed metals.  The results are spectacular.   This is certainly true when viewing an old blade from perhaps 300 years ago when modern techniques were not available to the forger.

I have done more research and I recognize but do not fully understand the spiritual aspects of the blade and how these forces are throughout the keris in various ways.  The difference in culture make fully understanding difficult.

I am certainly excited to see your keris when finished. Have you considered the form and substance of the sheath?   Please do get back to me when the keris is completed.  For now, I must take a short vacation from allexperts to fulfill other obligations.

Again, joy and peace to all.   Thomas.


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finished keris blade 1
finished keris blade 1  

finished keris blade 2
finished keris blade 2  
QUESTION: Hello Thomas,

How are you ?

Finally after 7 months of forging, my Balinese Keris blade is ready.

Please see the attachment.

This is the new pattern of pamor pattern and considered as "kamardikan style". "Kamardikan" means freedom. In this matter, it refers to keris which produced after Indonesia independence in 1945, as well as the keris' shape or pamor style.

The pamor usually is unbroken bright linings on the blade. But for this keris, I asked the smith to have irregular mozaic-like as pamor. Even the smith considered this keris as eccentric one.

By using the meteoric material as pamor, the bright linings will have shades or different appearances, like light grey, dark grey, white or even shiny. This shade effect cannot be imitated using non-meteoric-materials. Moreover, I use 200 gram of meteor for pamor.

Currently, the keris is on the way to me and probably will arrive on Wednesday afternoon (Jakarta time)

There are still works to do as I need to design the ornaments for the scabbard and grip. The hardest part in this section is I must find around ten pieces of synthetic sapphire in Indonesia. The gem's size is not confirmed yet as I must draw the ornaments to get the proportional gem size.

I assume that the keris will be ready in its final form within the next 2 or 3 months.

Regards,
Donny.

Answer
Donny,  

I saw news about the destructive volcano and hoped for peace and safety for those in the path of ash.

Now, looking at the photos of the blade, I understand why the smith might consider the design eccentric.  Apparently, this intriguing design is not in the direct tradition of patterns. As for my thoughts, I appreciate the artistry in the "broken" pattern.  The blade may very well have been more difficult to forge.   As a jeweler in years past, I have produced items with designs much "different" from the standard ans in my work took on such unusual work with a smile, being happy for the opportunity to work in a different manner with a possible need to develop techniques best suited to the job at hand.


I looked at a large variety of pamor on google searches and find your blade with the "broken pattern" or mosaic to be unique among all I saw.

Donny, thank you for the update and clear photos.  God Bless and Peace.  Thomas.

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Thomas

Expertise

Have a question about jewelry repair or working with precious metal jewelry and gemstones? For many years up to December 31, 2010, I was a working professional bench jeweler, involved everyday with setting stones in mountings, designing and making jewelry, repairing and limited custom manufacture. If you work with jewelry as a hobby or as a profession, I might be able to help. I deal with the retail business, not mass production. Ask privately if you wish. See the box for that: It keeps your question between us. Please DO NOT ask MAKER'S MARKS, but metal quality marks are fine to ask. Please DO NOT ask diamond prices. See a gemologist for that.

Experience

I have extensive experience in design, service and making of jewelry. I deal mostly with precious metals and gemstones but work with many materials as needed and usable to create an artistic design. My experience also includes freelance photography and photographer of jewelry and similar items for a former employer and individuals. Design of custom items requires reading the desires of the client and being clear on what can be done within that framework...then fulfilling the transition of idea to reality. Effective communications is essential in a working designer/producer and customer relationship.

Education/Credentials
Education is English/Physics! Started in human resources, to advertising, to jewelry...wow, what a road. I have had formal training in jewelry work and many shared experiences with top grade jewelers. We just never know were we will go or be. Follow your best, your dreams, with some discretion! Don't let the work tear up your body along the way as it has mine.

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