New Netsuke completed, Usugi moon

It has been a long time in the making but I feel I am at a point where I can call this piece finished.  A 37mm by 37mm manjū style netsuke made from polished ebony with mother of pearl, abalone, horn, antler and gold inlay. It represents a dashing hare at night under a clouded moon.  On the back can be seen a cut piece of equisetum arvense (horsetail).


When I started this I had a vague idea that a hare and moon were a rather Japanese looking subject matter but it all became a bit more than that.  The further along the netsuke got, the more I discovered and the more I added to the design.  At first it was just going to have a plain back but I found out from volume one of the Trumpf collection that Hares represent the 2nd month and the hours between 5am and 7am.  A happy coincident for my black netsuke but then further reading revealed that in Japanese legend the hare is responsible for keeping the moon clean and shining.  A second coincident! I’m on a roll.  Not only is my hare running around in the dark at 6am in February but it’s running to clean the moon which is being covered by clouds.  The third element helps to tie it all together.  The hare cleans the moon with horsetail (equisetum arvense) Which is apparently used as a metal polish because it contains silicic acid.  This gave me the concept for the design on the back. So after a lot more work then I originally envisioned, and after cutting and re-cutting each piece inlay 3 times each It is done.

It is by no means perfect.  The inlay on the moon not as tightly fitted as i would like.  Following the original one breaking when it was set in place I had to re cut and each time more wood material was taken out.  I didn’t want to attempt to get the inlay any tighter in fear of it getting slightly worse each time.  For my first real go at inlay though I’m happy with the results and see this as a good foundation on which to build.  It has also bee a learning curve in relation to polish and finishing which has taken many hours.

I have a few ideas for my next piece already and I may get around to taking some better pictures of this one.

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