Oshu-Gusoku Samurai Armour Restoration
One of my clients purchased a zunari kabuto from me. It later transpired that the wanted to source an armour to match. I happened to have it in storage so we decided to resurrect the entire armour to its former glory.
urushi, missing parts and damage to all the silk cloth. The odoshi was also rotten. I had re-laced the kabuto in a dark blue colour, so we decided to carry this on with the armour. The menpo was missing, but luckily I was able to source one that added value to the suit. My feeling is that when a menpo is added to an armour it becomes a focal point giving it a personality, therefore the menpo has to suit the armour.
I completely stripped the armour separating all the metal parts. There were some plates missing, one from the kote, another from the haidate and also some of the chain mail. I made replacement plates, but I used original chain mail from the spares I keep.
The ire-ji silks would need complete replacement as they had rotted. I sourced some vintage silk from Japan that was a dark blue, and would really make a nice contrast between the lacquered plates. I also had to remove all the flaking lacquer, consolidate the areas and rebuild them with kokuso and sabi-urushi.
Urushi, Tetsu Repair
The metal parts were lacquered in a special effect called tetsu-sabiji-nuri, this resembles a brown russet iron. I had to mix a lot of bengara urushi for the commission, this I do my hand using a special pigment. Mixing takes around 6hrs as the pigment has to be broken down, otherwise the larger particles will sink to the bottom of the mixture resulting is a difference in tone when applied, some plates would dry darker than others.
Once the new surface was applied I had to create a patina, I did this but using different layers of urushi. As the layers are slightly transparent I could create darker areas and blend them in. At the final stage I dusted the tacky urushi to create a matt finish which resembles antique lacquer.