Online store of handmade luxury items from the best Zlatoust craftsmen.
Making any steel grade, damascus and bulat, requires metallurgical production. The city of Zlatoust was founded in 1754 for the sake of one goal – construction of a metallurgical plant – around which the city grew. Now it is one of the oldest metallurgical plants in Russia which produces special steels for Europe and the needs of the Russian Army and Aviation.
It was this plant that supplied the weapons factory from 1815 and had a testing ground for the scientist P.P. Anosov who made the discoveries of world significance.
Our weapon makers still use the products of the metallurgical plant to make weapons. Thus, we have a complete production cycle from iron ore to the royal masterpieces of bladed weapon art.
First, we select the steel of the future blade. Various steels are used for the manufacture of blades (Bulat, Damascus, High-alloy steel). They are also used in the manufacture of surgical and cutting tools. They are subject to strict requirements for durability and wear resistance, as well as for preservation of properties when used in moderate corrosive environments.
The main element of steel is chromium (Cr) which improves cutting properties of steel and its wear resistance, increases strength. Due to high wear resistance, they are difficult to sharpen. However, due to the same characteristic, the cutting tool blade is difficult to turn.
Traditional technology of blacksmith welding does not produce Damascus steels from high-alloyed steels with such an important consumer property as corrosion resistance.
Zlatoust specialists managed to solve this problem. In 2010, they launched the new weather-resistant Damascus brand Zladinox (AiR) to the global market.
Steel was recognized by Russian and foreign manufacturers of knives at the exhibitions Klinok (Russia), Arsenal (Russia), IWA (International Exhibition IWA Outdoor Classics shows high-quality weapons from international suppliers of these products, Nuremberg, Germany), Macher Messe Solingen (Solingen , Germany), S.I.C.A.C. (Paris, France).
The main difference between Zladinox and Damasteel (Sweden) is the use of traditional rather than powder steels in the composition. Powder steels are more fragile.
* The use of steels with a carbon content of over 1.5% makes it possible to achieve high cutting properties of the composition.
* Hand forging of blanks gives the pattern a “lively” character and originality.
The first information about bulat appeared 2,300 years ago from the participants of the famous campaign of Alexander the Great to India. Since then, the world has lost the bulat manufacturing technology.
The first bulat blade was forged in Zlatoust in 1833 by the scientist metallurgist Pavel Anosov. His publication was translated into several languages and became the legacy of world science.
For 80 years, the Zlatoust weapons factory remained the only enterprise in the world where they could make bulat blades that had a patterned surface, incredible strength, elasticity, and blade sharpness. Later, technology was lost.
Bulat had its third birth in 2010 and again the master from Zlatoust became its discoverer. Now, Zlatoust weapon makers are again the only ones in the world who can make bulat edged weapons.
Unique Design Development
The first step in creating a decorated weapon is a well-thought sketch of the future product.
Designers and artists develop product concept:
– drawing a sketch on paper,
– designing the form of a blade and a hilt,
– selecting materials for each element,
– developing drawings to apply on the product,
– determining color and shape of each jewelry stone and their layout.
After the design development, the master assemblers make up the project. The task is to break the product into small elements, of which a single composition will be assembled.
Product elements of complex geometric shape will be created from metal bars. The number of such elements can reach hundreds of pieces for one product.
It is important to think through the joining of all elements in advance.
To finally shape a stone, a master must find a suitable workpiece. The workpiece must meet several criteria.
* first, it should be larger than the final shape of the product,
* second, the natural nugget must be uniform, not have pits or voids inside.
The process of working with natural stone is like cutting off all excessive. It is impossible to predict the structure and the presence of voids in advance. Using a diamond wheel, the master gently cuts layer by layer.
Sometimes the workpiece cracks in processing, then you have to start all over again. Prices for natural nuggets are high. And the larger the stone, the higher the price.
So, the design is developed, the steel grade of the future blade is determined, the metal bar has to be shaped as required. There are two methods: stock removal and forging.
When forging, the blade steel heats to a ductile state (950-1100 degrees Celsius). Then it is shaped with a hammer closely resembling the final shape.
Stock removal includes steel workpiece processing on a grinding machine to make the finished blade. A reference blade is drawn on the workpiece, its profile is cut out with cutting tools.
After making a roughly shaped blade, one must give it an ideal shape, smooth out all faces.
The blade is treated with abrasive tape.
This is a very responsible and harmful process. The reason for that is much steel dust. The dust is separated from the blade and fills the air with tiny particles.
Although the master wear personal protective equipment, he is still subject to harmful dust in the airways.
The selected steel grade plays a large role in the future product use, but not always a decisive one. Hardening quality is very important. Insufficiently hardened blade will lose its sharpness, and overhardened blade will be fragile.
Hardening is the process of heating steel to a temperature of 750 – 1,100 °C followed by an abrupt cooling so that the phase transformations that occur during the heating process do not have time to return to the initial state. Of course, heating temperature, cooling medium and other subtleties are strictly individual for each particular steel.
The soul of the blade is born during hardening.
The most important characteristic of steel is hardness. Hardness is the capability of steel products to resist deformation under external mechanical stress.
After hardening and tempering, the blade is tested for hardness using a special device.
Finally, the blade is machined by polishing. The abrasive tape removes burrs and scratches, bringing the blade to perfect condition.
Etching is used to expose the pattern of damascus and bulat steels. The blade is dipped in hydrochloric acid. It is etching that helps reveal the inner beauty of these steels.
Masters have their own etching secrets they protect from the keen eyes of neighbors and competitors. To simply expose a pattern is a plain matter. It is enough to moisten the blade with any acid (even a slice of lemon) and observe the mystery of the birth of damascus steel.
The blade hilt should fit perfectly in the hand.
It does not matter how beautiful the blade is if the knife does not fit the hand. The hilt shape, its size and, of course, appearance is directly dependent on the function of the knife.
The hilt must be in harmony with the blade. Hilt material is selected to the color and appearance of the blade. Thereby, an ideal proportion is achieved.
The hilt is machined and shaped according to the sketch. Materials vary:
* valuable woods
* stabilized wood (impregnated with polymer)
* animal horns.
After the hilt is made, it must be fixed on the blade. There are two ways of attaching the hilt to the shank: inserting and riveting.
Depending on the blade model, additional work is done:
– making notches on the blade;
– making limiter on the hilt;
– casting on the hilt head (pommel);
Engraving on steel is a special pride of Zlatoust. Beginning in 1829, the products of local craftsmen, decorated with elaborate engraving, were repeatedly praised and highly awarded at international exhibitions in London, Paris, Vienna, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Stockholm.
The making of Zlatoust engraving is a multi-stage technological process. Several specialists work on one product at a time.
The process begins with the artist. He applies bituminous varnish with a brush to a glossy, degreased part. Then the part is dried at 140 °C in a muffle furnace. The part is taken out of the furnace and slowly cooled. Varnish dries on the part becoming hard.
After drying in the furnace, the artist scratches the varnish with a needle, giving the pattern the necessary detail. As seen in the example, the master separates the grapes from the leaves.
After engraving, the part goes to the galvanic etching workshop. A surface not protected by varnish undergoes etching and becomes opaque. Varnish is removed. Engraved area becomes a matte pattern. You can feel the difference between the glossy and matte surface by touch.
After etching, the part undergoes trimming. The engraver details the pattern with a cutter. The main task is to give the pattern completeness and volume. The engraver cuts off the edges and due to this, embosses the pattern above the plane.
The proprietary feature of Zlatoust products is the background made by scraping.
The artist machines the surface with a boring machine using various drills. Smooth surface obtains velvety, glossiness, texture. To his taste, the master can make a more glossy surface of the part, either more rough and bumpy, or more delicate and thin. It depends on the product size and the concept of the author.
After scraping, the fitter polishes the product with polishing wheels, thereby giving the part a clean shine. Then the part is degreased and undergoes nickel plating.
Nickel is a white metal. Nickel plating is made to a depth of 5 microns. The product is covered with a layer of nickel completely and becomes matte, as if powdered with snow.
The part is treated with soft polishing wheels using fine paste. Top layer is removed from the non-matte surface, and the pattern becomes glossy, like a mirror.
Glossing and polishing, in fact, are the same operations, but performed at different times of the product manufacture. Polishing is a coarser surface finish, glossing is making the product glossy.
Having passed the stage of glossing and degreasing, the part again falls into the hands of the artist. At this stage, the most interesting begins – preparing for gold plating.
First, the entire pattern surface is painted over with varnish, then the excess varnish is removed with a solution. At the same time, varnish remains in all engraved lines and cracks. The product is dried. Then, using cotton wool and Soviet dental powder, the remaining varnish is removed from the pattern. Finally, the part goes to a muffle furnace.
Only after all parts have been painted over, inspected after heat treatment for the absence of defects, the part of the product goes to the electroplating workshop, where it is plated with 24 carat gold (with a gold content of 99.9%).
It is gold electroplating method (not to be confused with sputtering!) that guarantees long-term performance of the products.
Stone inlay is a painstaking process where each stone of a certain color and size is placed in a special position prepared by a setter.The stones are fixed manually with special tools; this jewelry work requires great patience and attention from the master. Many products are covered with hundreds of stones, and sometimes thousands.
Art enameling has more than three thousand years of history. Egypt, Iran (Persia), India, and China made significant contributions to technology.Enameling is a type of decorative finish associated with coating the product areas with a low-melting glassy mass. Enamel has excellent protective properties due to its resistance against chemical reagents.
The artist applies a color pattern to the product with a thin brush, after which the product is burned in a muffle furnace at a temperature of 600-800 degrees Celsius.
The process of applying enamel is one of the most scrupulous and labor-intensive processes in jewelry because of sterility, compliance with the temperature mode in the furnace and duration of the process.
At the enterprises of Zlatoust, all stages of the creation process are so well-established that everything works like a clock. An artist is allocated for each product who controls it from beginning to end, interacting with a master weapon maker, engraver, turner, blacksmith, and a group of electroplating specialists. Each specialist performs the necessary operation at his stage.At the end of each stage, the product undergoes intermediate inspection, if no defects are detected, the product goes to the next stage. The finished product is subject to the final test to identify defects and shortcomings. An individual gift box of wood with a tissue lodgement is made. A product passport and certificate are drafted.
The finished product with documents is ready for customs clearance and drafting export permits.