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Jon Shaw

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Hello Jon,

 

This carving is a delightful study of a claw. Nature as designer presents endless examples of exquisite forms. While carving this piece, or others which cause you to consider a form which also has a function in nature, do you ponder how this form came to be? What forces in nature and evolution produced this elegant shape? The exercise of removing wood, and using our skills with tools, creating shapes, textures and colors, for me is intermingled with a journey in my mind, to wonder the how and why of the origins of such a thing.

 

While exploring this carved claw, it is not just a claw carved from wood. I wonder where it came from, and am brought back to any wanderings on the shores of an ocean, bringing back a flood of memories. A piece of nature which is not born of human stories has its own story, and it is for us to imagine or remember as we gaze upon it.

 

Thank you for sharing this piece with us! Very nice images, and your photos fit the guidelines perfectly!

 

Janel

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Hello Jon,

 

This carving is a delightful study of a claw. Nature as designer presents endless examples of exquisite forms. While carving this piece, or others which cause you to consider a form which also has a function in nature, do you ponder how this form came to be? What forces in nature and evolution produced this elegant shape? The exercise of removing wood, and using our skills with tools, creating shapes, textures and colors, for me is intermingled with a journey in my mind, to wonder the how and why of the origins such a thing.

 

While exploring this carved claw, it is not just a claw carved from wood. I wonder where it came from, and am brought back to any wanderings on the shores of an ocean, bringing back a flood of memories. A piece of nature which is not born of human stories has its own story, and it is for us to imagine or remember as we gaze upon it.

 

Thank you for sharing this piece with us! Very nice images, and your photos fit the guidelines perfectly!

 

Janel

 

Hi Janel,

 

I picked up the original on a beach in Spain, and yes, I am intrigued by the armour of shellfish and the fascinating forms that some have evolved. They could have emerged from the imagination of a sci-fi writer.

 

I have seen several exquisite netsuke crabs, but wanted to home in on a more tightly composed detail that I felt would also sit well in the hand and hopefully offer therapeutic comfort.

 

So pleased the posting actually worked - it's quite painless really!

 

Jon

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Very cool, Jon! And looks very nicely carved.

 

I've done several crabs in my netsuke career, I have something of an affinity for them - must be my crabby personality. I find these on my local beach all the time - but I don't take them home because of the inevitable smell. Anyway, well done, makes me want to hold it - very netsuke-ish...

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Thanks for showing your new work, Jon. I particularily like the subtle texturing you've achieved. How much of a hollowed out form have you created? I'm interested in your decision making to include the hollow and to what extent.

 

-Doug

 

Your kind response is much appreciated, Doug.

 

I feel it's all too easy to "overwork" a surface, so attempt to capture the essence of reality without entering the realm of the laboured super real and spoiling it.

 

The hollow's depth was governed by 2 overiding practical considerations. I wanted it to be totally hollow, but found that the deeper I went, the harder it became to judge the wall thickness, and at that stage of the carving I didn't fancy staring at a hole that had just appeared half way down the claw! Secondly, I hollowed it predominantly using a burr on my Foredom, so the depth was governed by the shank's length causing a compromise.

 

The depth is actually about an inch, in your measurement, which gives the satisfactory impression of being hollow from all angles, bar looking in the open end.

 

Jon

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One appeal that small carvings in hardwoods has for me is the weight they exhibit when held. Though a natural crab claw is hollow and very lightweight, I wonder if it would have the same appeal in a thin-walled carving? For my tuppence, I bet you found a nice compromise between realism and need for tactile satisfaction.

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Very cool, Jon! And looks very nicely carved.

 

I've done several crabs in my netsuke career, I have something of an affinity for them - must be my crabby personality. I find these on my local beach all the time - but I don't take them home because of the inevitable smell. Anyway, well done, makes me want to hold it - very netsuke-ish...

 

Thanks Tom, your comments are much appreciated.

 

In this case, the claw section was just as I found it and empty!

 

Jon

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Nice carving Jon. I like it.

 

I made a similiar piece a few years ago.. carved a small crab inside it just for fun... mine was mammoth which had sum natural staining on the claw tips and I used acid to bring out the pimply surface of the shell. I don't take pics of my work but I think it appeared in one of the netsuke journals.. (maybe sumbody will dig it out?? ;) )

 

Again gud work!!

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Nice carving Jon. I like it.

 

I made a similiar piece a few years ago.. carved a small crab inside it just for fun... mine was mammoth which had sum natural staining on the claw tips and I used acid to bring out the pimply surface of the shell. I don't take pics of my work but I think it appeared in one of the netsuke journals.. (maybe sumbody will dig it out?? ;) )

 

Again gud work!!

 

Your compliments are much appreciated, Clive, so thank you.

 

Funnily enough, I had also intended to create a "twist" to the piece by carving something inside (inspired perhaps by Guy Shaw),

but I ran out of time on a deadline to submit for vetting at a major exhibition. Maybe next time.

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Brian, the technique of making the bumps on boxwood is called ukibori. Use the SEARCH function for more information about it, but you do have the gist of it.

 

Clive, would you be willing to write more about the acid/ivory bump making by starting a new topic in the Techniques forum area? I sure would appreciate more information, if it is something you might share with the forum.

 

Clive, do you have a recollection what year or issue in the netsuke journal? Mine are spread out between house and studio, but I have all of the issues, somewhere...

 

Janel

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Clive, would you be willing to write more about the acid/ivory bump making by starting a new topic in the Techniques forum area? I sure would appreciate more information, if it is something you might share with the forum.

 

Clive, do you have a recollection what year or issue in the netsuke journal? Mine are spread out between house and studio, but I have all of the issues, somewhere...

 

Janel

 

hmmmm.... I should have known that no innocent post goes unpunished!! ;)

 

I'll see what I can do... maybe... if you're good!! ;)

 

Ps... Don't know what issue it appeared in.. don't get the journal myself. I'll e-mail the chap who bought it and ask. Hey!.... who knows he might even have a picture or two.

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Hello Jon,

 

Beautiful work! Elegant! I agree with Janel about the rendering of a natural object - I do think that it tends to be a profound meditation as we see the form with our eyes and hands while making it; and the viewer also has a deeper sense of awe ( at least when the rendering is so very good as yours ) of the natural form as well. The joint is so nice - looks like it would actually articulate.

Thanks so much for the sharing.

Magnus

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Guest ford hallam

Hello Jon,

 

I've hesitated to post any sort of comment on this piece which you have been good enough to share with us for a number of reasons. Ultimately though, the urge to say what I honestly feel overides my better judgement. So I hope you will read what I write in the spirit it is intended.

 

Firstly let me state, quite explicitely, that you clearly have a firm grasp on the craft aspect of your art. The accuracy and delicacy with which you have rendered this subject demonstrate this very well.

 

Janel has mused poetic on the associated "meaning" and context of your piece but therein lies the rub for me. While I am in agreeance with her general sentiment I cannot honestly say that I get this stimulus from your carving, it is merely by association.

 

I do not mean to diminish your achievement here but rather to challenge the object of the work. Am I to admire the workmanship and skill...OR...should I expect some expression, beyond the purely technical?

 

I don't want to elaborate too much here, nor do I think it necessary, and I sincerely hope you understand my question/challenge. After all, it is the question your piece put to me!

 

Namaste, Ford

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Guest ford hallam

Hi Janel,

 

while I appreciate your desire to insulate Jon from my rather forthright response I do not appreciate your attempt to divert the heartfelt and considered question I posed to the Artist himself. Perhaps it would be polite to at least wait for Jon to respond directly before you turn my probing into some sort of "safe" and abstract irrelevance which we can all comfortably ignore.

 

Further, my comments were directed to Jon, in response to his work and not as some generalised or abstact musing. As such, I had hoped for some personal reply not the usual vague and impersonal discussion, which is what you appear to favour.

 

I believe that we can express no greater civillity than by being absolutely honest with each other, This does, of course mean we must take great care in our exchanges not to cause unintended hurt. In this instance, I feel I have been perfectly courtious, so it troubles me that you feel the need to quash this attempt at communication that I have tried to initiate with someone who I recognise as being mature enough to respond intelligently.

 

 

respectfully, Ford

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Thanks Jon for showing your work.

I like it very much. I also understand why Ford post his comments (and yes Janel there's an opportunity for a new topic but you are a little bit like my mother) (Be sure, I love my mother!)

With Ford in mind and without any intention to speak up for Jon, for me his carving works as a Momento Mori (you know, dust to dust etc.). I find it beautiful because design and subject are both outstanding. I am sure there is a great difference between the real thing and the carving and that shows all the dicisions there are to make while carving. (It's obvious that there is no limitation by skills.)

And Ford please stay as honest as you are, it has benefited me and probably others too.

 

Please correct me if I'm wrong!

 

Leon

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Hello Jon,

 

I've hesitated to post any sort of comment on this piece which you have been good enough to share with us for a number of reasons. Ultimately though, the urge to say what I honestly feel overides my better judgement. So I hope you will read what I write in the spirit it is intended.

 

Firstly let me state, quite explicitely, that you clearly have a firm grasp on the craft aspect of your art. The accuracy and delicacy with which you have rendered this subject demonstrate this very well.

 

Janel has mused poetic on the associated "meaning" and context of your piece but therein lies the rub for me. While I am in agreeance with her general sentiment I cannot honestly say that I get this stimulus from your carving, it is merely by association.

 

I do not mean to diminish your achievement here but rather to challenge the object of the work. Am I to admire the workmanship and skill...OR...should I expect some expression, beyond the purely technical?

 

I don't want to elaborate too much here, nor do I think it necessary, and I sincerely hope you understand my question/challenge. After all, it is the question your piece put to me!

 

Namaste, Ford

 

 

Hi Ford,

 

We have not corresponded before, so can I firstly just say how much I have enjoyed reading your erudite and amusing contributions to this forum over the past year.

 

So, down to business. Janel may well be correct in wanting to move the broader debate around this subject to The Way, but I am very happy to respond to your observations of my work here, not least because you raise issues about which I myself often wrestle. Maintaining brevity when faced with the scope of this topic is a challenge, but one I shall endevour to tackle!

 

I have long been very wary of the word "artist". I believe I understand your observations exactly, and would certainly agree with your implication that a true artist should have something to say, as a prime objective of the work. To my mind, simply producing, e.g. a "chocolate box" style landscape painting may illustrate the fact that you are accomplished with paint and brushes, but it doesn't necessarilly make you an artist.

 

I could really throw the cat amongst the pigeons here by suggesting that to my eye, the great Cornel Schneider's polychrome lizzards, whilst examples of supreme virtuosity in execution, don't speak to me at all. Whereas the monkeys of, say, Hozan, Seiko and Tetsuro (in the Prince Takamado Collection), not to mention Nick Lamb's examples, are bursting with "meaning" and "expression" as well as breathtaking in the skill of their execution. On the other hand, if you look at Guy Shaw's (no relation) work, it ranges from stunning but totally realistic renditions of fungi, through to the imaginitive fantasy of Baku-kurai. Now which is the most valid artistically, and by what criteria are you making a judgement?

 

We are all contemporary netsuke/miniature carvers, yet here in the West we do not have the centuries old cultural traditions for subject material that the Japanese practitioners utilize. So where do we look for inspiration and how do we incorporate "meaning" and "expression" into our chosen subject? Personally, I am new to this genre and see little point in churning out yet another rat or monkey unless I really have something to say with it, not to mention not even daring to compete with the above artists! I am drawn to the more contemporary subject elements of say, Michael Birch or David Carlin, but have yet to explore whether I have even the beginings of their talent.

 

Nature has obviously played a hugely influencial role in inspiring artists from many fields over many generations, and it was to this that I turned for the crab claw. Despite Clive informing me that he produced one some years back, I have personally never seen an example and felt it would make an intruiging and original subject, (and one that woud sit very well in the hand) as opposed to the entire crab. A crab's claw is, of course, an inanimate object. It is difficult to introduce elements of the emotional into the subject itself beyond those of the judgement, expression and execution of the carver/artist. Personally, if the piece when seen and held conveyed nothing more than an excersise in technical wizzardry (of which I still have much to learn), then I would feel I had failed as an artist.

 

All I can say is that my observations indicate it has kindled both desire and delight amongst those who have handled it, so I can only remain hopeful that I have achieved something approaching the artistically valid!

 

I hope this makes sense, but I am now apprehensive as to the can of worms we may have unleashed!

 

Regards,

 

Jon

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Guest ford hallam

Hi Jon,

 

thanks for the kind words, and thank you for appreciating "where I was coming from" with my probing. I have very briefly read your eloquent reply ( which is what I expected, the eloquence that is ;) ) and will muse further this afternoon while I get some more work done. You have touched on some very significant aspects of the debate which will make for great fun exploring and thrashing out together. Your question " by what criteria are you making a judgement?" is going to yeild a lot of varied opinions I reckon. I'll try and add something of more substance later.

 

Before I go though, I must agree wholehartedly with you in your assement of the various artists you cited. Particularly as far as hyper-real, polychomatic reptiles go ;)

 

As for the unleashing of worms, I think we can get to grips with the slippery little buggers. :(

 

 

Good to have you aboard, btw, I'm sure your input will add yet more real quality to the pot.

 

cheers, Ford

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