Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Wild Boar

Hi all,
This post is about my second, and probably last, netsuke carving. It is a carving of a wild boar, he doesn't look that wild I know, but that's because he is sleeping at the side of the river under a bunch of reeds. Things are much easier to carve when they are sleeping.

It is carved from lime wood, which is very similar to bass wood that is often used for carving in the USA.

Without further ado here is picture one.
I think he is kind cute, definitely better than Clarence the cross eyed crane from my last post.
Here is the other side.
I cheated a bit on the lines that are supposed to be the hairs. The book said to carve them with a "V" tool but my patience was running out so I did the hairs with my pyrography iron. Not brilliant but far better than I would have managed with a gouge and black ink.

Here is the view from the front.
Here is picture of the rear.
And finally, a picture of the underneath.
So there you have it. I did almost give up with it about half way through, but just like Earnest Shackleton I battled on. I'm pleased that I finished it but I won't be doing another, not carved out of wood at any rate. I have been dallying with the idea of making one in polymer clay and if I do you will be the first to see it.

If you fancy having a go at carving a netsuke, I would encourage you to have a go, it is well worth the experience. Even though I won't be carving any more, I learned a lot from doing the carving and I'm sure that it will help me when doing something a bit bigger.

In my next post I will show you the small pot I turned recently. It has some nice pyrography on it and
I'm so pleased with it I'm currently doing another using the same theme. If I get it finished I will let you see them both.

My biggest problem at the moment is the cold, It's as cold as a polar bear's mit in my workshop. I've tried heating it with two bars on an electric fire but it isn't very effective and it's playintg havoc with my wallet. I wish I could find a nice creative hobby that I can do whilst sitting in my armchair in the warm. Just for the winter of course, I have loads of stuff I want to turn and carve when the weather warms up again. That's it for now, I you have any suggestion for a creative hobby that can be done from the comfort of my armcahir please let me know.

Thursday, 23 November 2017


Hi all,
I promised you in my last post that I would show you a picture of my first attempt at carving a netsuke. It took quite along while to carve it, but I finally got it done.

The netsuke is carved from lime wood, which is used by carvers because it is relatively soft for a hardwood, has a close grain and no knots. It depicts a crane with poppy out eyes guarding its egg, which it is clutching in one of its claws.
I think it came out okay.
Here it is from the other side.
I tried to get a bit of detail into the feathers, but left the top plain to give it that smooth tactile feel.

Here it is from one end.
The eyes let it down a bit. Firstly, they aren't level but also they just aren't very good. I think I will call this netsuke, Clarence the cross eyed crane.
According to the excellent book from which I was taking my instructions, the whites should have been done with faux ivory and the black bit in the centre should have been done with a bit of ram's horn. Anyway, seeing has I'm fresh out of both of these commodities, I decided to use Milliput epoxy putty and, although the product is very good, I failed to execute the eye making operation with any decent level of skill.

Here is view from the neck end.
Yes. those eyes definitely spoil it.
On the plus side, it gave me a good opportunity to have a go at carving, which I've always wanted to do. Working small gives one a real insight into the skills that are required and by comparison something a tad bigger should be easier.
The last view is of the underside. I didn't bother putting in the holes that should be there for the toggles because it will never be used as a netsuke.
I've signed it Sam, because that is what my wife calls me and George would be too big.
I think my biggest disappointment with the outcome of the netsuke is the lack of weight. I expected it feel good in the hand but being so light it doesn't amount to much. I made one a couple of years ago out of polymer clay and that felt much better and was far quicker to do.

Would I do another?
Well the answer to that is yes, but just one. I am currently doing the next exercise in the book and I'm about 75% done. So far I guess I've invested about 15 hours in it and that is far too long. I will finish it and let you have a look but after that I'm moving on to slightly bigger things. Please check out my next post to see how I get on.

Just one last thing. I am giving away free downloads of one of my books at the moment. It's called "A Staffordshire Boy" and is available free on Amazon until the 24th of November. To get a copy just click on the "book's" tab at the top of the page and then onto the book's cover and it will take you straight to Amazon for your free copy. I hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, 11 November 2017


Hi all,
 I mentioned in my last post that I was going to have a go a wood carving. Well I've constructed a workstation with dust extraction and I've purchased 4 gouges /chisels and whittling knife, so I'm all ready to go. In fact, I have made a start but the going is very slow. I thought I'd begin small so I've started carving a netsuke and carvings don't come much small than that.

For those who don't know, netsukes are small toggles used to grip a cord that is attached to  the belt of a Japanese kimono. Kimonos don't have pockets, so the Japenese would carry their tobacco and money etc in a pouch that was attached to a belt via a netsuke. Netsuke go back hundreds of years and the carving of them has become very fine, they are also very collectable.

Anyway, I've made a start and I will show you my first finished netsuke in my next post. One of the interesting things that came from the netsuke carving book that I am reading is a technique called ukibori. If you google it you will find out what it is all about. Briefly, it is a method used to raise bumps on wood. If you were carving a toad and wanted to depict the bumpy texture of its skin, it would be impossible to do it by standard carving methods, so this is how the Japanese netsuke carvers did it.

A small metal rod with a ball shaped end is pushed hard into the wood wherever a bump is required. This leaves a dimple in the wood. Next, the wood is turned down so that it is level with the bottom of the dimple. Then, hot water is brushed onto the area and the dimples expand and become bumps, just like magic.

I had a thought that the method could be used to put a ring of bumps around a pen to provide a nice grip. So I had a practice on a piece of lime to see if it worked.
It was dificult to photograph but I think the ukibori lumps are clearly visible. Anyway, it didn't take long and I turned a pen using olive wood and used the same method to create some bumps,
Heres the pen.
Its a great looking pen but unfortunatly there isn't a bump to be seen. A bit of a failed exercise and I can only assume that the ukibori method works bettter on some wood than it does on others. I will try it again one day with a different spieces of wood.

The other thing I had quick go at was a pair of stud earings, just to see if I could do them. I turned them from the left overs of  a black palmeria pen blank.
The black dots in the end grain of the black palmiria give them a look of leopard skin and I quite like them. They were so quick to do I did some more in ebony and another pair in walnut. I 'd like to do some more but I've got lots of other stuff I want to do, including finishing my first netsuke which I  will show in my next post. Any questions or comments, please fire away.