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Guest katfen

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  • 4 weeks later...

Sorry, I dropped the ball on that one.


I had to learn by doing, so I don't have any exacted knowledge to pass along. My mind swirled with questions before beginning the himotoshi. Placement, cord size, knot size, your intention for the use, and on and on.


Placement of the himotoshi should allow the netsuke to present itself without hanging upside down or screwy in some way. I've not always been able to do that, but hey, we learn as we go. When the netsuke is worn, you want it to present the side intended for first greeting those looking at it while being worn.


Cord size, if the netsuke is large, to be worn by a larger person... the doubled cord must fit into the hole but not too loosely. The knot should , well here there are different approaches, 1) fit into a knot hole, or 2) remain outside the knot hole either in a depression or just out there. I've tried to make the knot hole a snug fit at the opening with a little more space hollowed out inside to let the knot relax and fill the space. You need the cord present to make these judgements.


Other netsuke carvers, who carve more netsuke than I do, may just make one hole smaller the other larger by a bit and anticipate that the pice won't be used. I don't know for sure.


Depth of holes and space between them and size of the channel... the best thing is to look at netsuke to find out what others have done for the past couple of hundred years. Sorry, that is not intended to be a glib statement. Hands on experience by looking at netsuke will answer a lot of questions and bring even more questions to your mind!


I imagine that I work too hard on my himotoshi. My choice is to make natural himotoshi so that the holes do not offend the subject. That is fun trying to figure out with the designing of the piece.


How deep and bridge size might depend on the strength of the material being carved. You might have to use your own judgement with that one. The design and structure of the netsuke might also help determine the look of the himotoshi.


I hope that there are some helpful things here. Mostly, you need to practice making himotoshi in a scrap of wood or material of choice, and see how it looks and how it goes for you.


Thanks for bringing this question forward again.



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I've always had a question about himotoshi too- when something is described as having LINED cord holes, does that mean just a inlaid rim of ivory (or pearl, or whatever one chooses) on either side of the cord channel, or is the entire channel lined- as if a 'U'-shaped cylindrical piece of ivory is fed through the channel- I'd imagine it would look something like a piece of macaroni...


As far as lining the rim, or surface of the holes, I did it once with a piece of mother of pearl. I carved/created the cord channel with a small U gouge and 1/8 burr, polished it, etc. Then I took a 'dot' of pearl (the sort used on musical instrument fret boards- much easier, but pricier, than turning one yourself), cut an inlay pocket to its diameter- larger than the cord hole- and inlaid it into place. After the glue had dried, I took the 1/8 inch burr I used for the hole, and ground a hole through the pearl, back into the original cord channel.


Make sense?


I tried drilling the hole in the pearl dot prior to inlay, but this was both difficult from a coordination standpoint with something so small, and also the 'walls' of the pearl 'donut' readily crack. By inlaying and glueing into place first, you provide support for the fragile pearl shell avoiding these problems.

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Hi Doug and Kathleen,


The inlays in antique netsuke are just rims, not the entire channel. The channels in a well carved himotoshi are typically U-shaped, and smooth so as not to fray the expensive silk cords. It also took me a long while to realize how the cords are attached. I had originally assumed that only one cord went into the channel, and the other tied to it like a loop. Not true - both cords go through the channel, and are tied together with a simple knot at the loose ends, then the knot is pulled up snug against the netsuke. Older netsuke (17th century) often had the hole where the knot would be carved much larger, so the knot would lie below the surface. 18th century netsuke usually just had two similar sized holes.


Seems modern carvers often like the asymmetric versions better - I know I often carve himotoshi with the small/large holes, and often line mine with ivory or antler. I do just like Doug described - I turn the inlay material (without hole in the inlay), and then glue it into the hole carved in the netsuke. The inlay is longer than the hole is deep, so I can carve down to the surface and make a smooth transition. Only once the epoxy is cured do I carve the hole in the inlay material, and I round over the edges, both at the surface and below so any cords passing through will slide smoothly. I realize my netsuke will probably never be worn, but if it is meant to be a netsuke, I try to be faithful to the ideals. I also smooth the entire channel for the same reasons. Fine netsuke are the ultimate in craftsmanship, so I try to make mine with that in mind - even beyond the artistic requirements.


Hope this helps.

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Sergei- are you out there? I noticed recently he has a very nice himotoshi carved on a recent piece (a ghost) on his website. It's the sort of cord attachment where one hole is bigger to provide a little bowl for the knotted cord to sit in. It's very well done- maybe he could say a bit about his decision-making.

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Sergei- are you out there?  I noticed recently he has a very nice himotoshi carved on a recent piece (a ghost) on his website.  It's the sort of cord attachment where one hole is bigger to provide a little bowl for the knotted cord to sit in.  It's very well done- maybe he could say a bit about his decision-making.


Hi Doug, Kathleen and all,


All it is enough is well described here! :) I have done chimotoshi from

considerations of practicability. Greater deepenning for node. Here is

the greater picture for the best view:


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  • 4 years later...

This is just the kind of information I was seeking. Thanks to those who answered my post as to himotoshi placement, and thanks to Janel, who must get tired of fielding questions that have probably been posed and answered multiple times.

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