A Star buy. Unfortunately I can’t read it…..

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Background 

My recent exploration into the world of carving and netsuke has seen me take a far more in depth interest in Japanese art than I had previously ventured.  This is an effort to understand the motivation behind many famous netsuke artists from the Meiji period and earlier which should in effect influence my own work.  I often pondered how many of the artists developed their style and very Japanese interpretations of their subject matter.

After reading a lot and thinking on it further the whole style of the netsuke, especially the more abstract ones makes a lot of sense.  In the context of a world where there was no, or very little photography and travelling places took extended periods of time, seeing new things or exotic animals was difficult for the majority of people.  Netsuke artists would often use prints from other artists and illustrators.  These artists would have been constricted by the same restrictions so their prints were based on other artists prints or from descriptions in books or from people.  There was no google images so finding out what stuff looked like could be hard, or seeing what aspects of a common animal looked like still had to be done through direct observations as there was no photography.  This combined with artistic flare led to the art we see today.

The point

I decided that if my carvings were to feel authentic then I need to take a similar approach so I have been compiling many Japanese prints.  I recently found in my favorite second hand book store, Barter Books, a great book of Japanese bird prints.  Only problem is it is an original (for only £6.60) and is in Japanese so i am unable to read it. A bit of research has revealed this to be one volume of a 3 volume set of 100 Japanese birds by Bairei dated to around 1890.

 

enjoy these wonderful prints.

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Belafonte. Let me tell you about my boat

model making

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For a while I have neglected to take any decent photos of my model of the Belafonte. I thought i would have a go at doing some good pictures using a Sony NEX3 and a photo light box thing I bought recently from ebay.  The photos aren’t bad but I realise there are few areas I went wrong, and plus I never really finished it. There are no life rings and no crew!

I think I would like to do it again but on a bigger scale and from scratch but I need time and money to do that. If you are interested in commissioning this then please contact me via the email on the About Me page. In the mean time please enjoy these photos.

The Belafonte

The Belafonte

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If you do want to commission me I will throw in this Steve Zissou lego figure I made.

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The hare with the stake and ale pie

netsuke

New netsuke

I mentioned in my previous post that I was working on a new netsuke of a rabbit (hare) and as I am currently unemployed and seeking work I have had plenty of time to work on it.  As a result, it is complete, I think.  This represents my 3rd netsuke.  I feel I am making decent progress with my carving skills and plan to continue their development.

preview

preview

How It’s Made

Unfortunately I did not think to take any photos of the process of making it but I will give a brief overview now.

The netsuke is made from Hippo tooth.  I purchased this from ebay.co.uk from someone selling them as items they had purchased whilst on holiday during the 60s or 70s.  Hippo tooth can be difficult to come by as it is a CITES listed and controlled substance.  It can be purchased with greater ease in the USA where there are a number of dealers who import it with all the proper permits.  The enamel on the tooth is extremely hard and an angle grinder was required to remove it (safety goggles recommended).   When doing this you have to be careful not to overheat the tooth as it can cause splitting. Once de-enameled the tooth can be sawed by hand quite easily.

Once I had removed a bit of tooth I decided on a subject matter.  I went with rabbit as I quite like them.  I’m not that fussed on them as pets but find their form interesting to work with.  Once decided I started drawing on my bit of tooth until I had a rough design I was happy with then then started roughing out the shape using a dremel multi tool.  This is the only stage along with one small one at the end where I use electronic tools.  Once I had the rough shape I started using scrapers and chisels to work over the piece and refine the shape.  Once I had the shape right I started on the fine detail (eyes, paws, ears ect.) and when that was completed I used the edge of a fine chisel for creating fur across its entire body.  This was something I decided to do toward the end as I had not intended to do this when I started out.  I then drilled out the eyes using a drill bit between my fingers (I wouldn’t trust a power drill because if I had slipped it could have ruined the whole thing).  I then used the same drill bit to attach some amber to the base using superglue.  I then used a file to round the amber off to the same diameter and the drills shaft.  Once rounded the end of the amber was squared off and a smaller drill bit was used to create a pupil which was then filled with acrylic paint (drilled by hand again).  A second bit of amber was then glued on the end of the first bit (over the pupil), rounded off to the same diameter and then sanded convex.  All manner of wet and dry papers and micro mesh were used to polish and finish it.

The last thing I did was drill the himotoshi.  I used the dremel again for this and a series of different attachments.  I took my time with this as if I had messed it up at the last stage I can’t imagine how annoyed I would get.  In all this is probably about 80 hours work I think, but I can’t be sure as I didn’t keep track.

Dimensions

it’s 38.5mm head to tail, 24mm at its widest point, and 24.5mm tall.

Photos! For gods sake yes, photos! 

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