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Janel

What works for you?

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At the International Netsuke Convention 2009, Jeffery Klotz asked the artists present at his workshop in which he presented the work and thoughts of six contemporary netsuke carvers: How do we approach what we carve, is it by commission or from our own initiative and decisions? His words from the questionnaire: "Are you carving for yourself or your audience?" There were three artists present, who were not being presented by Mr. Klotz, and we each had different answers.

 

Mr. Klotz read statements from each of the six artists, who each answered this question. A variety of answers were described, from completely doing commissions, a mixture, or carving for one's self with the goal perhaps that the work will find it's collector.

 

I am curious to read your thoughts about how you approach your work and if that differs from how you would like to approach what you do, considering the theme of carving for yourself or by commission from a client.

 

Janel

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I usually do want I like. Sometimes a person will ask for something and I will do it, but by far I carve what strikes my fancy. Otherwise it becomes a job for me.

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During a long time, i work only by commision from differents clients, mainly for knives collectors. Since i discover that i can do netsukes, i work only what i want. It's only pleasure. I sold just one netsuke, but i'm so happy to do what i want, carving takes a new dimension. Now, i work a little for commission and a lot for me, and it's very good.

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My interests mainly lie in Maori and Pacific art. Therefore, most of the work I produce is influenced from these cultures. So I carve what I want to carve and fortunately, the galleries I display in specialise in this area, so the clients are mainly looking for the Maori of pacific influenced work. If I do get commissioned, the piece they want is almost always a traditional piece with a contemporary twist, so I always have that little input.

 

Billy.

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I make what I want.

If someone wants to buy it, then I sell it to them. My biggest problem is and always has been pricing. Determining value. (I have an idea of what I shoot for based on an hourly fixed rate, plus materials, but that's really another topic.) As far as my knife business goes, I have a client that wants me to provide the handmade component to his "semi production / semi handmade" line, so I give him what he pays for, done to his specs.

But, if I make a handmade knife or a carved piece....I do what I want.

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"Are you carving for yourself or your audience?"

 

I suppose I'm lucky; I have a well-paid day job, so any carving I do is for myself. Being a beginner anyway, I wouldn't expect to be carving well enough to sell for some time, if ever. Having a day job does reduce carving time, though, as do obligatory other duties . This summer's been pretty much of a wipe-out for carving, for example, as we've had to do the family visiting thing, having had some years of good excuses not to. On the other hand, winter will be pretty much free, apart from work, so I'll have plenty of time to get down to it again.

 

My answer to Jeffery Klotz's question would be very different if I were making a living from carving, I'm sure.

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Of course, its always good to get an order.

If I have also a free hand and can create the topic not only after the collectors guideline,

I can work on it rather well. If my creativity is bordered of to much guidelines, the work

process is somehow not flowing good.

The best thing is, if I have an own idea and I want to try if its possible, thats like a game,

that works really good. Its also exciting then to see, wich collector would like the creation.

If the piece is sold at the end, after this, my head is free again for new adventures.

 

Cornel

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Hello:

For nearly 20 years I earned my money by carving netsuke. I sold to dealers and colectors , about 1100 pieces.

 

Since 2003 I work as a goldsmith again and carve only for myself. I learned a lot in all those years of orders and terminwork.

 

I took pictures of all my netsuke and when stopping this work , I burned these pics and started new.

 

 

Its much better, to know, that one is free and can keep the netsuke for oneself, making experiments, without a dealer, who askes: " who in the world shall buy that ?"

 

We have one of the best hobbies and should get happiness from this - not stress.

 

Have fun

 

Hako

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This a hobby and physical therapy for me. My big goal at this point is carving to develop my skills. Because of that I take on projects for local civic groups that are not what I would pick for myself but they help develop my skills such as lettering and reproducing logos. The side benefit is that it takes my mind off my aches and pains and even lowers them to tolerable levels sans medications. That and our community has some handmade memorials that will be around long after I'm gone.

 

After three years I'm just about to the point where I'll start working on the projects that started me down The Carving Path.

 

John

 

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