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"Found" Objects


fkvesic

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I have to confess to being a wood murderer.

 

Some years ago, because friends know I like wood, I was given a rather nasty dark wood carving of some kind of rodent, made in the Philippines and heavily varnished. It stayed in its box, but I took it out a few months ago when I decided to start carving and sawed off its head and tail, as the body will make 3 or 4 interesting netsukes. Its overlong tail became a handle for a big magnifying glass and its head sat on my desk and stared at me for a time. Bullet shaped and sharp-nosed, with lumpy ears and horn eyes, I was reluctant to put it with scraps because the wood is a fine one, very close grained and hard, though I've no idea of its name. It's streaked - almost ebony black with lighter rings. Ironwood, perhaps?

 

Then I wondered about 'found' netsuke and what, for example, people here have done with antler crowns. In time, I could maybe do something with this head-object without destroying its basic shape (apart from the dreadful ears), but carving bits of it and/or engraving parts finely to bring out the contrast between the mass produced tourist parts of it and more detailed work - something quirky and satirical, perhaps.

 

Have any of you ever worked this way, or with the more usual way - finding those pieces of raw wood/other materials that then dictate the shapes you carve?

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I like imagining that you will make a rat's head trophy to hang on a wall beside the hunter's pride of other trophy heads! Gruesome sort of wall, but the rat's head would add a touch of humor.

 

Your concept of finding pieces of wood and then working with what it has to offer is not unfamiliar to me, though I have not taken a carving and only altered it a bit. One piece comes to mind, a "scrap" of boxwood from a wooden spoon carver, became a long slender piece : The Chase. It did not actually come from a found object other than finding it in the box of pieces from my friend, and imagining the subject emerging from the wood.

 

Also Cocoon eeked out of another "scrap", Toad which is most like your description of found material which was less altered than a whole carved piece, and Clouds and Trees found in a peach pit.

 

Other pieces of wood that I have used have dictated the form, by using the material that is available. Japanese netsuke carvers used a limited resource, elephant ivory, and fitted carvings into oddly shaped pieces most successfully.

 

Would you be willing to let us see the rat's head, before and after images, if you choose to do something with it? I can already imagine it proudly mounted on a trophy wall, in the near foreground, with the other beasts in the blurred distance made smaller by perspective/distance... You actually needn't do it, I am having fun with the imagination!

 

Happy Saturday to you,

 

Janel

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PS, I cut a limb off of a cactus, which had been previously cut out from under an eagle, all carved from desert ironwood from the South Western US. My dad did not want the height of the cactus and kept the eagle. I have used a limb and a stump from that hunk of wood, so far.

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"Clouds and Trees" is the nearest to what I mean, Janel, and I have seen walnut shells carved into netsuke, though how the old masters kept the two halves together, I've no idea. Glued them with a mix of walnut dust and glue, perhaps?

 

You reckon that mounted rat's head would go well with the mounted stag head and Scottish Baronial I don't have? Mind you, it's a thought! I'll take some pics of the head and body parts and post them here, though it'll probably be aeons in capability terms before I'm able to do anything with the head.

 

Btw, I've just done a Google search and it looks as if the wood is either Mangkono or ordinary Philippine Ironwood.

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  • 4 months later...

Btw, I've just done a Google search and it looks as if the wood is either Mangkono or ordinary Philippine Ironwood.

 

As far as I know Ironwood does not float.

If in doubt, toss the piece of wood into a pail of water -- if it sinks to the bottom, it's probably Ironwood.

 

Purpleheart will float just below the surface. But at least it's color tell you what it is.

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Actually I did not look it up -- I was trying to quote you but did that poorly.

 

I have a piece of ironwood brought to me by a friend from Bolivia.

I ended up putting it into my stash of woods then forgot which was which.

Somehow I knew that iron did not float and was able to determine which piece was which by putting it in water.

 

Edit in -- I thought about why I knew ironwood did not float. (It was bugging me all day).

The wood stick used to measure gas in ground tanks was iron wood as it would sink to the bottom show the wet gas mark as dark and wipe off easily.

Now I will sleep tonight.

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