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.

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