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.
How It’s Made
Firstly this is made from a CITES controlled material. Hippo tooth is a type of ivory. It was not an uncommon material used in antique netsuke in Japan but the material is now restricted and permits are required to buy and sell it (unless made before 1947 though this may also change soon). My knowledge of this was limited when I made this using a scrap of material I had been given and I would not use the material again. I now only make netsuke from non restricted materials such as wood, amber and antler. Unfortunately the material is not uncommon as hippo teeth were often sold as tourist souvenirs until the 1970s and 80s. For anyone interested in making (or buying and selling) netsuke please read and be aware of laws regarding materials from endangered species in your country
There can no longer be any excuses for using materials from any species threatened by human activity and we much change our ways to ensure their preservation.
Once 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.
it’s 38.5mm head to tail, 24mm at its widest point, and 24.5mm tall.