Koi and Waves Hobo HalfDollar Tutorial

How about a Koi-themed Hobo Nickel (OK, it’s actually a silver half dollar)?

Above, I’ve begun the coin carving by transferring my pattern to the face of the half dollar, and then using a V-graver to cut in all the lines.

Some folks like to remove the head or figure on a coin before engraving

, leaving a nice flat area, but I tend to leave the extra metal for more sculpting.  Leaving the figure does tend to make things a little confusing, though…

Here I’ve relieved the background on the Koi and Waves Hobo Half Dollar.  Still looking a little confusing with the bits of Lady Liberty still showing.

Sometimes adding a dark patina to the coin helps with visualization.  That’s a bit better…

Beginning sculpting with flat gravers and steel punch.  The lighter colored areas are where I’ve been working.

Above, I used a small flat graver and have finished cutting back all of the various levels of the elements.  I’ve also finished smoothing and sculpting the Koi with a small steel punch.  Next, I’ll have to do the same for the waves.  I’ve also added the gold inlay for the eye – I sometimes tend to jump the gun on the eyes – they’re the window to the soul, and I like to see the life emerge by detailing the eyes…

Here, I’ve finished punch sculpting the waves.  Notice the nice texture the small, almost flat faced circular punch leaves behind (with slightly rounded edges).

In antique Japanese metalwork with wave motifs, you often see little round bits of gold inlaid into the surface, so I’ve decided to add them too.  Here I’m adding little dot inlays of 24 karat gold to the waves. I used a beading punch to make little circles, removed their insides with a tiny carbide bur and undercut with a tiny flat graver. These undercuts will allow the soft 24 karat gold to flow down into them

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, becoming trapped so the inlay can’t come out.

I find it convenient to melt a small ball of gold in the tiny 28 gauge wire I like to use for inlays.  This gives me a little more gold and conveniently allows a single piece inlay, rather than the multiple parallel wires I normally use for larger area inlays.

Above is an enlarged image of the little circular pocket (lower left corner) and the little ball of gold I’ve melted on the end of the gold wire.  In the top center you can see a completed gold inlay, with the excess gold flowing over the edges of the pocket.  I’ll scrape this excess off and then use an abrasive stone to really flatten and refine the gold inlay.

Above I’ve used a small brass punch to squish the gold ball into the inlay cavity.

Here’s a terrible enlarged image of the tiny ball squished into the inlay cavity.  Sorry for the terrible focus, but there’s no going back to reshoot.

Koi_and_Waves_Hobo_HalfDollar_11 Koi_and_Waves_Hobo_HalfDollar_12
With the addition of a little patina and final touchups, the Koi and Waves Hobo HalfDollar is finished!  Above are two oblique views so you can get an idea of the depth of relief.

A view of the back, with my signature.

Koi_and_Waves_Hobo_HalfDollar_15And here she is, in all her glory, leaping for joy!

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling

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1 Response to Koi and Waves Hobo HalfDollar Tutorial

  1. It’s amazing. A breathtaking design, perfect work.

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