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Old 24th June 2018, 05:57 PM   #1
kinary
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Default Metal Keris Handle

Hi, I'm a new member and glad to join this forum.
Basically my interest is Indonesian Keris handle.

Simply I just want to know,
How to make a metal handle?

It is easy to imagine, when craftsman wants to make a handle made of wood or ivory, they will directly carve from the material by using tools such as chisel.

As for metal handle, especially solid gold handle like a picture below,
does goldsmith make a cast first then carve the details?
Or directly carve the gold?
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Old 24th June 2018, 06:49 PM   #2
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Welcome.
It would be nice to see a larger picture that shows more detail.
How many grams does this beauty weigh?
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Old 24th June 2018, 08:25 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum Kinary.
I agree with Rick, better photos are vital especially if you are interested in exactly how this particular hilt was created.
I do know that such hilts are not always solid gold. Often with gold hilts you have sheet metal that is worked over a wooden base. But i don't know that that is the case with a hilt such as this. Just keep in mind that the same technique is not used on all metal hilts. Some may be cast, others hammered over a wooden or resin core, etc.
This is a really nice looking hilt btw. Is it yours?
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Old 25th June 2018, 06:05 AM   #4
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Thank you Rick and David,

This is not my handle, a collection of Neka museum.

I don't have other pictures on this specific hilt, but what I want to know is general knowledge of making, especially about Balinese solid gold hilt.
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Old 25th June 2018, 02:16 PM   #5
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Well, that is a little out of my personal scope of knowledge. I can't speak for others. But living in Jakarta you are not that far from Bali and high end hilts of precious metals are still being made there as far as i know. A great deal of what is on view in the Neka Museum is contemporary work. If you really want to learn more about the methods of making such hilts you can probably find the craftsmen themselves to talk to about this. You might want to start by paying the Neka a visit and asking them if they can direct you to any current craftspeople.
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Old 25th June 2018, 02:54 PM   #6
Anthony G.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kinary
Hi, I'm a new member and glad to join this forum.
Basically my interest is Indonesian Keris handle.

Simply I just want to know,
How to make a metal handle?

It is easy to imagine, when craftsman wants to make a handle made of wood or ivory, they will directly carve from the material by using tools such as chisel.

As for metal handle, especially solid gold handle like a picture below,
does goldsmith make a cast first then carve the details?
Or directly carve the gold?


This piece seems to be from a Bali museum.
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Old 25th June 2018, 04:42 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Well, that is a little out of my personal scope of knowledge. I can't speak for others. But living in Jakarta you are not that far from Bali and high end hilts of precious metals are still being made there as far as i know. A great deal of what is on view in the Neka Museum is contemporary work. If you really want to learn more about the methods of making such hilts you can probably find the craftsmen themselves to talk to about this. You might want to start by paying the Neka a visit and asking them if they can direct you to any current craftspeople.


David,
That's exactly what I want to know.
Does skilful goldsmith to make very nice metal keris handle still existing in Bali or not?
Sometimes I see some gold (not solid) or silver hilt which are newly made in Bali, but not so intricate as a picture as attached.
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Old 25th June 2018, 04:47 PM   #8
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I know there are some skilful carvers to make very nice handle from moose, wood or other materials. But metal handle would be different category.
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Old 25th June 2018, 05:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony G.
This piece seems to be from a Bali museum.

Yes, the Neka Museum. Kinary said as much in his post #4.
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Old 25th June 2018, 05:22 PM   #10
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A solid gold handle would be made with the lost wax casting method. Such a handle would be extremely heavy and would cost probably 12,000 (or more) dollars in gold (not counting gems); then the maker would charge for his labor on top of all the other costs.
If you wanted to cast most of the detail you would probably need to use a centrifugal casting device which would spin the mold at high speed to force the molten metal into the fine details; even then the casting would need further carving and detail work.

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Old 25th June 2018, 10:22 PM   #11
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All very true Rick, but there is one other thing too:- it would be far too heavy to be able to wear in any traditional manner, and you'd need both hands to lift it off the table.
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Old 26th June 2018, 12:53 AM   #12
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Kinary,
From my experience and some other info, yes you still can order new gold handle Bali keris. If they can make the silver, they can make in gold but surely the risk become higher if order from scretch. Meaning: you prepare or paid the gold, you have to trust the maker 100%, hopefully finished as agreed and you like the result. Its a long journey as situation can changed a lot in between.
Quality of workmanship is an issue once done. Either you like it or not happy.

If you are new or not really have a good information, its much easier just buy finished one and pay as agreed. They do changed hands but very rare. As good one ( quality- questionable: how deep is your understanding of quality)
, old, rarerity, sought after- high demand as any other items we know always high price

Attached my hilt, just another sample. From side you can see the material is thin and material used is kind of wax, dont know what to call-may be Allan can help. They mold and cover, once cold its inner core harden and can be modelled. Similar to some pendok process in Java

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Old 26th June 2018, 01:11 AM   #13
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I have usually seen the gold over pitch approach. The pitch is roughly molded in the general shape and then thin gold plate/sheet is placed over the shape and then stamped and chased onto the gold. The pitch(ish) material takes and then holds the new indentations in place. Thus the form takes shape (every pun intended ) and you have a hardened gold covered hilt.

There are some details I'm leaving out, but this is the simplified explanation.
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Old 26th June 2018, 03:23 AM   #14
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I've seen silver hilts made in Jogja, and gold ornaments with similar character to a gold hilt made in Bali. I've also seen silver pendok made.

The pendok starts as a lot of silver beads, these are cast into a block, the block is then beaten by hand into a fan shaped sheet that is left marginally thicker on the edges where the seam will be. It takes a skilled craftsman between two and three days to produce this hand beaten silver sheet from the silver block. The fan shaped sheet is bent around a mandrel (sanglon) to form the shape and the seam and bottom cap is soldered . It is removed from the mandrel, filled with wax and then the chaser embosses it free hand, he uses a wax covered stump as his work bench. When the chasing is complete the pendok is boiled to remove wax, cleaned, polished and stained to highlight the embossing.

The process to make a silver hilt is the same, the silver sheet is fabricated roughly to shape, it is not formed over a wooden or wax carving. When the rough figure has been made the chaser takes over and does all the deep embossing and engraving needed to make the hilt, before the chaser starts work the hilt is filled with wax, when he is finished the hilt is gently heated, then boiled to clean it of wax, when it is clean it is filled with jabung (cutlers wax), sometimes a wooden core will be inserted into the jabung while it is still molten. When the jabung sets hard, usually a couple of days are allowed for this in Jawa, the bottom cap is put in place and is normally held in place mechanically.

The gold work I saw being done in Bali I was not able to follow step by step as I could the silver work, but what I saw of the work, and what I was told by the craftsman seemed to indicate that the Bali process was broadly the same as in Jogja. In fact, at the present time, a lot of supposedly Balinese gold and silver work is done in Jogja. Generally speaking silver smiths are very reluctant to work in gold because they need a totally separate work area for gold in order to reclaim wastage and dust. If the area is not separate the gold wastage and dust gets contaminated by silver.

I have been told of a slightly different way in which silver hilts and similar objects can be produced, and that is by fabrication and embossing in panels, the embossed panels are then soldered together, and the chaser completes his work.

To the best of my knowledge the forming of metal hilts over pre-formed wood and other substances is not practiced in Jawa or Bali.

Shellac can sometimes be substituted for jabung as the filler.

Balinese gold and silver hilts tend towards using quite heavy material, Javanese silver hilts use moderately heavy material, old Javanese silver and gold hilts are not much thicker than foil.
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Old 26th June 2018, 12:23 PM   #15
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Alan,

Thank you for your perfect explanation.
Now I can clearly imagine how metal handles are made...

The chaser would be the focus of my attention.
But really nice metal hilt must be the fruition of total work done by all craftsmen engaging in each process.
Is there existence of a kind of "conductor" to harmonise whole process?
Or completely separate work?
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Old 26th June 2018, 12:26 PM   #16
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Thanks Rajid, Rick and Battara,

Considering your suggestion, maybe it is better to try to make a silver handle first.. gold is too expensive and risky..

Last edited by kinary : 26th June 2018 at 02:10 PM.
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Old 26th June 2018, 12:41 PM   #17
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It depends where the things are made, if in a big workshop with a number of silver smiths it is obviously the owner or his foreman. If it is made by a single craftsman working alone, he does the fabrication and then employs the chaser.
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