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B.K. Henderson-Winnie

Clover Key Sun sashi netsuke (in progress)

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Hello, all!

Here are some images of what's on my bench right now, a few process pics.

It will be a sashi type netsuke made of ebony and salvaged piano key veneer, probably old pre-ban elephant ivory I acquired from Boone Trading company about a decade ago. A small 14k gold disc left over from a guitar repair will be inlaid for the sun. It's my first sashi-type. It may not strictly adhere to what a sashi is supposed to be, but that's the shape that seemed closest to what this resembles to me :)

The subject matter comes from an 18th century fortune telling deck called Lenormand. The image is a combination of three very good cards, the ones everyone wants to come up in their reading! Clover represents luck and opportunities, the key is often about breakthroughs and important revelations, and the sun represents personal and situational success.

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roughing in

 

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Ground leveled and ink wash 1 done. I was hesitant about using an ink wash, but went ahead. I used a much diluted wash of India ink, hoping it would resemble more of a collection of fine soft gray dust or shadow rather than obvious ink.

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Ink wash 2, under bench light and in the room light.

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After the initial washes, placing the gold disk before marking and carving out the inlay pocket. It is a bit too bright as shiny as it is now. I will probably give it a light brushing to mellow it out once it is inlaid.

After that will come the lamination of a little more ebony on the back side to make room for a himotoshi, shaping  the edges of and finishing the surface of the ebony, inlaying my maker's mark and  final small carving/smoothing and polishing adjustments. Well, then making an ojime, too!

It has a ways to go, but it's beginning to look like what it will be!

Thanks for having a look,
Bonnie

 

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It is a pleasure to see your current work Bonnie,

Tight spaces and a very shallow piece of material to be working with.  Nicely done so far.  

How do you plan on smoothing?  Would it be the background?  I may have some tool suggestions if you might not have what you want, but you would likely have to make them.

Janel

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Thank you Janel!

I don't mind making a tool, what would you suggest?

For smoothing the background I was going to use very small fragments of sandpaper as I have always done before, but I don't want the loose grit to lodge in the ivory. I did a little searching here, and saw those scrapers you made from craftsman pin punches. I thought those would be perfect, because they'd only scrape the surface I wanted to scrape, but not bite into the vertical surfaces like a blade would if I slipped.  

I have some very small dull drill bits that I could put the angle on the butt ends and put into a pin vise. Would that work well? I have a set of those sharpening stones with the fused bits of diamond as the cutting agent that I could use for shaping.

I also thought that later on I might try to make a set of scrapers like those described in the Stephen Myhre book. Have you used those? What do you think of them?

Bonnie

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I found images of the two Stephen Myhre tools that were gifted to me a long time ago.  The note on the image folder "Stephen Myhre tools 2008 before much wear".  They are now significantly shorter/changed from years of use and sharpening, but still important choices for what they have to offer with their shapes.

1-8thmyhre.jpg

3-16thmyhre.jpg

The elegant thinner one presents a long, shallow curve, which is what I would recommend for smoothing surfaces.  Either of the curved edges on the top of the tool, or a tool made with the single leading knife edge that could be slightly curved, could sweep gently across bumpy surfaces, delicately shaving fine whisps of material off the surface until the degree of smoothness is achieved.  

This video was created long ago, but does show how I hold and use tools for various kinds of material removal.  Just after 5 minutes a tool is being used that gently planes/shaves a surface to smooth it: Tool Use Demonstration - Stephen Myhre Style Tools & Janel Jacobson's Tools Well, that actually is a cutting stroke that later becomes a smoothing stroke, but not the fine touch of a finishing stroke that is done with a very light touch.  The stroke on the convex leaf surface is being done with a straight edge.  You may want to use a slightly curved edge on the flat background of the piano key ivory to flatten and smooth the surface.  In the same vein, a concave surface would be smoothed with an appropriately curved sharp edge.

I have a few tools from 1/16th to 3/16th inch diameters that have three equal sides with three relatively equal shallow curves.

DSC_0384.jpg

The variety of Craftsman pin punch diameters can be a handy place to start.  The four to the right are such tools from 1/16" to 3/32" diameters.  If you use a grinder to do the initial shaping, do not let the tip get to red hot.  For the smaller diameters a honing stone can do the job, and move upwards with the grits to gain a very sharp edge and a near polished surface.  These triangular small tools are superior for undercutting and creating a separation shadow that gives life to the subjects, much like when your finger is placed on a surface and you can see that it is separate from the surface it is touching.

My very first tools that I made were from HSS drill bits.  Awkward to hold, but better than nothing.  They were very hard to shape well as I recall.  Somewhere here on the forum some folks cringed when I admitted using HSS for making tools.  They will do in a pinch, but there are better materials for making tools from.  The non pin punch tools were fashioned from O-1 drill rod with oil quench.  Somewhere here on the forum there are descriptions for making tools I believe.  The 0-1 rod can be ground, filed, shaped then hardened with a bit of refining of the faces and edges before tempering to straw color.  

You can see an assortment of my tools on my web site: http://janeljacobson.com/toolsstudio/tools2012.html

Other shorter tools might fit better the piece you are working on.  This is where making multiple, slightly differently proportioned tools can be useful.  I managed to do that while trying to understand the dynamics of the sides and the top in relation to one another.  Eventually each extra tool became a useful one.

These were some of the oddballs that actually became useful over time:

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I hope that some of this will be helpful as you consider smoothing the surfaces of the ivory.  Sanding papers leave scratches that have to be laboriously sanded ever finer away until nonexistent.  Keep the scraping tools exceedingly sharp and un-nicked and your surface will be beautifully smoothed with out sanding papers.  A higher polish can be then attempted with micro mesh cloths up to 8,000 to 12,000.  Very glossy surfaces on some woods and animal origin materials.

Best wishes,

Janel

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Hi Janel,

Thanks for your information-packed response! The photos of the tool tips are great- much clearer to me than what I was looking at in the Myhre book. The video is very helpful and makes clear the various uses of the edges. 

I will probably go ahead and acquire some O-1 tool steel in a few diameters during the fall/winter for making a few blade shapes like the ones illustrated above. Hardening/quenching should be no problem. For tempering I am thinking of making a sort of hood barrier, like I saw in one of your photos of Ryushi Komada's demonstration. That seems really smart to me- a good way to control the heat and see the changing color of the metal clearly. I have some 18g & 20g sheet copper that should be good for that.

I have a bunch of dental tools, made with the good steel, I think, that I've horded from when I found buckets of them on sale for very little at a local scientific and mechanical odds-and-ends shop (I miss you, Wacky Willys). I will try to make some of the small-tipped triangular profiles from some of those that came with the less-useful tips to try out on the ivory, since that's something I can do right away.

Thank you so much!
Bonnie

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Hi Bonnie,

Good idea to make the hood barrier for the torch.  It does offer a degree of control for the tempering, which can go very quickly.  I know if a tool maker (different sort of tools, for softer wood carving) who uses a toaster oven that can be set at the tempering degree that he wishes to achieve.  I don't know the details though.

I am thinking about the smaller background spaces, confined by positive relief in your design ... The second from the right has the kind of idea for a tool series the might work for such spaces, for flattening/smoothing those smaller spaces:

tools398.jpg

This rough tools were acquired in Japan, for ivory carving.  The idea of the edge being on the end rather than the side allows it to be used differently than an edge on the long side.  To be able to make your own tools opens the way for solving problems when no tool seems to work just the way you want it to.  You might find something with the dental tools that might be adaptable. 

Janel

 

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On making your own tools. If it works for you ,good, and share so others can see. I have made some out of HSS. Steel some out of old drill bits cheap ones and expensive ones. They all work well, served my need and purposely the time. I have made some knives , some blades purchased from Warren Cutlery and Carving Tools, some hand made.

On what other people  say, I have a good friend that is a classically EuropeanTrained wood worker and Carver, and turner. He is excellent in both fields ,much better than I am. On dating was working on a carving using a knife ,he said to me that I was only whittling , just joking , then when I pulled out my power carver ,, he said that I was cheating. Mark and I are good friends and like each other's work.  

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Janel-

I'm intrigued- I will definitely attempt a similar profile when I start experimenting with making blades. These close up images are great!


Thank you, Ed-

I'll share pictures when I make some, sure!

Yes, it's up to each person how seriously they decide to take criticism offered. I always try to stop myself and say "consider the source, consider the motives".  I'd take what you describe from a good old friend as just some ornery ribbing, or possibly start a conversation with them about it. From most anyone else, that would elicit quite a different reaction! So much depends on relationship and intent. 

As far as "cheating"... I am partial to hand tools, but hey, you use whatever will deliver the results you need to get, within your own philosophical and ethical boundaries! 
And of course, if you have budgetary and/or resource limitations, use what you have, the best you can!

My heart feels very full today. Thanks, you two!
Bonnie

 

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I am also partial to hand tools . When I am caving I prefer to listen to some good music and carve. The power caving is only when I want to attract attention at outdoor shows. That is what I was doing when my friend Mark said I was just cheating, all in good fun. We were both at the same show, selling and caving.

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I got a little bit of time on Wednesday and converted a double-ended dental tool to a small rounded scraper on one end and a more chisel-like profile on the other. The metal is Pakistani stainless steel. They both work tolerably well, making nice shavings on some scrap. I need more work on making the angles more precise. Also the edge needs stropping fairly often, doesn't hold as firmly as a carbon steel would I think. Experimenting with these makes me want to make more profiles, though, especially some of the more triangular ones.

I sharpened them on 220, 400, and 600 grit sandpaper adhered to a thick plate of glass with water, then stropped them on leather with silicon carbide powder in oil.

I plan on ordering some O-1 tool steel round stock in small sizes next paycheck and see what I can make with those.

Thanks as always for the info and guidance!

Bonnie


 

small chisel tip

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slim rounded scraper
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dentalrounedscraper2_3853.jpg.ed7bb9fc2bfe867acfc8e79151d6eeac.jpg

 

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Good to see your inquisitive mind working on tools!  If you can, find some 1000, 1200, 1500, 2000 wet/dry papers as well.  I have found them at auto shops that supply things for body/finish repair.  It costs a bit, but when cut into 80, or so, pieces (about 1" x 1.25" rectangles), it lasts a while.  

For organizing these small pieces of varying grits, I use little plastic divided and covered tray/boxes.  One might use them for fishing tackle or small things of all sorts.  I've got two just for the papers.  Before cutting the long strips (cut in one direction) I draw on the assigned color code, which also follows with the toothpick sander color codes.  Some are plain, single colors, some are a color with a black line, or two colors together.  My range of papers includes 50-80-100-220-320-400-600-1000-1200-1500-2000-2500.  The last two are rarely used, but can bring a shine to dense, resinous woods or other polishable materials.  

For the tools, the higher numbers will bring a gloss and very fine edge to the tools if used like a strop.  With these tiny tools a strop needs to be quite stiff so that the edge does not get too rounded over.

Janel

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To keep small tools from rounding over with stropping ,, use your stropping compound on wood.

will take picture and post if requested .

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Thanks for the information, Ed & Janel!

I should probably take the polish up higher, for sure. 

I like the color coding and  organizing boxes idea for the smaller pieces. Right now I have one of those shoe organizers with the plastic pockets hanging on the back of the studio room door that I keep bigger pieces in, but a smaller container for smaller pieces makes a lot of sense.

I have sandpaper grades from 80 to 50,000 grit. Up to 1500 is regular wet & dry paper, 2400-12,000 is on cloth and made by 3M that I got through Micro Mark. The 50k is some stiff material used in lapidary- I got it from Rio and it's a thin round sheet of meshlike plastic with the polishing material embedded.  

Stropping on a block of wood makes some sense- perhaps a medium to soft semiporous wood would work nicely for that. Though I think the problem with the edge turning may be as much to do with the metal as with my (unrefined) technique. 

Bonnie


 

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