Friday 8 February 2008

Slippery little sucker

It's really hot here in Cape Town and I'm up to my eyeballs in trying to get the new forum on-line so I'm afraid yet another kagamibuta from last year is all I've got time for right now. It's the same sort of size as the others, 4cm across. Iron ground, gold and shibuichi snail and a mother of pearl shell. The bowl is black walnut. I'll have to get round to transfering the images I have stored on the laptop in the studio over to this pc, then I can keep 'em coming.

Thursday 7 February 2008

Weathered Iron Tsuba- a work in progress.

This is the front of one of the pieces I've been working on lately. The weathered sort of texture is something I've been exploring for some time now. It's a matter of working the effect out in such a way that I can create subtle areas of interest where I want them, and so that the "design" ( if you could call it that ) has areas of balance and other areas that are counter point empty spaces.

One of the great masters of this sort of effect was Kano Natsuo. This present work of mine was initially inspired by one of his masterpieces which is held by the Boston Museum of Fine Art. I did a version of my own about 10 years ago but this time I am not using the original as my starting point. I feel comfortable developing my own expression and aesthetic in this manner now. Here's a link to the tsuba that started me off; http:/to natsuo Tsuba you can judge for yourself the differences in terms of personality that are expressed by the different modes of working the ground.

This piece I've posted is obviously not finished yet. The patina is at this stage just a trial and there will be an Iris flower and leaves inlaid in the lower right corner, the design will wrap around to the back in a similar way to the original. All the really delicate work follows.

The back of the weathered iron tsuba.

Wednesday 6 February 2008

Moon gazing toad sketches

These were the rough, and loose sketches I did when I first conceived of this "moon gazing toad". I was staying in the infamous "Okubo House" hostel in Tokyo ( definitely the cheapest place to stay but not for the faint of heart ) and would doodle to pass the time in the evenings when I wasn't "learning Japanese" in English conversation bars. I think these were done about 15 years ago. This is possibly a good example of why you should always keep your sketch books, you never know when something you did a long time ago will suddenly have relevance to your present work.

Tuesday 5 February 2008

Toad gazing at the moon

A design of a toad; inlaid in a 3 different tones of shibuichi and silver.The eyes in aokin ( a mix of 20%silver and 80%gold) and shakudo. The bowl in raden; crushed mother of pearl set in Japanese lacquer. It's about 4 cm across. I made this just over a year ago. I was trying to capture the subtle character of an ink wash painting by keeping all the colours very muted and close to each other in terms of tone.

Monday 4 February 2008

Ferns sillouetted by the moon.

In lieu of something more visually interesting or intellectually stimulating ( I need a lot of sleep after a rather tiring weekend spent mainly studying more swords than is probably healthy ) here's yet another kagamibuta I made last year. This one is made of iron and is quite small compared to most I've made, it's just over 3cm in diameter. The gold is applied using a technique called nunome-zogan which is a common, traditional technique.

The iron is first prepared to receive the gold foil by cutting a very closely arranged series of parallel grooves at angles to each other. The foil is then worked into this cross hatched surface and burnished smooth. I wanted the piece to have a slightly worn feeling about it so I polished though the foil in some areas. You can see the pattern of the patterned ground showing through. The ferns are actually a fairly common Japanese design. The inside of the wooden bowl is lacquered and has crushed mother of pearl embedded in it. It occasionally catches the light and flashes through the cut outs. You can just see a hint of it in the picture.