Jump to content

.. More Umimatsu Pics

Guest Clive

Recommended Posts

OK.. As requested some more pics illustrating the "classic" black umimatsu often seen in antique Japanese pieces and its comparison with some other black corals in their raw state.


1. First.. A piece of the classic umi and below it the more common black coral below.. notice the little red flecks on the former and difference in surface texture.


2. A close up of the classic


3. Even closer.. notice the red flecks.


4. An end view.. notice the small red brown lines


5. A view of the "standard" black and the "classic" when polished.. you see totally different materials!!


6. Some other black corals..


7. and a piece with its base.. I've been mulling over this piece for a few years waiting for a suitable subject that incorporates the base material.


To help flesh out this look at umimatsu, I invite members to add any pictures of pieces using umimatsu, old or new that you have or find.








Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Freda.. one of the points I'm trying to get across is that there are a number of closely related but different species all commonly refered to as umimatsu, each with different characteristics.. there is also patina that changes the appearence of umimatsu over time.. some species become more translucant others much darker.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I found this Kanman netsuke picture on this site. http://www.internetsuke.com/insarchive/key/Cicada

There are lots of more pictures of umimatsu neysuke.


I personaly find this the most beautifull netsuke I know of (Next to the Meinertzhagen Kirin.)






Here are two antique Umimatsu pieces from my small collection. A Kizeruzutsu and a very worn Hotei netsuke.







Link to comment
Share on other sites

I personaly find this the most beautifull netsuke I know of (Next to the Meinertzhagen Kirin.)


Thank you Ko.. finally something we agree on.. I've too have long admired that piece.. its simply stunning.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



Thanks for starting this absolutely fascinating thread!


I am very intrigued by this material, which at times looks like stone, then wood, then horn.


Regarding the partially fossilized umimatsu that you are working with, is it indeed partially calcified? I am very curious about the working properties of these varieties of umimatsu. Are there any materials that you could compare the properties to? For example, is the fossilized umimatsu like working a garder stone? Does the black umimatsu, which appears horn-like, have a similar consistency to horn? There is actually quite a bit of fossilized coral in Canada, not too far from where I live, and I am now wondering if I should pay closer attention.


Very very interesting.


Re. your ever-growing supply of materials, I sympathize. This was a major consideration when we bought our house 6 years ago. I have completely taken over 1/2 of our basement with shelving packed with boxes of materials, logs, branches, and lumber. In fact, I had to go through this material and prioritize when I brought the better part of a limewood tree into the house this spring. Some materials of lesser importance now rest outside in the car port. Fortunately, my wife is understanding, but I am sure she has her limits.


Thanks again,



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Phil,


Its certainly semi fossilised.. but over the years I've tried to learn more about exactly which process has been at work in the material I have... petrifaction, permineralization ?? I once took it to a massive gem and fossil fair and it baffled the hell out of everybody.. so I simply don't know enough about the science of it.. but funnily enough.. I happen to be going to the Natural History Museum in London next week and will see if I can have a chat with one of their boffins. In the pic below previously posted.. I'll take and post some more tomorrow..the pure white material has turned to hard stone.. it polishes up to a glass finish and has a milky white translucency. Then then there's a sort of in between material.. the white stone seems to migrate towards the centre.. creating a really bizarre quality... the milky white stone material with veins of softer gold coloured material running through it.


Carving Umimatsu is definitely not for the faint hearted.. the material cuts easily enough.. but it can and will just separate along its rings.. whole sections can just crumble off. Its impossible to carve much detail and any design will be determined by the "mood" of the material.. which will probably change a few times while you working it... bit like a women <_< .. I once started a piece which began as a frog on a log.. turned in a moth and finally a small group of mushrooms.


The golden variety is slightly softer and not like any other material.. being both waxy and brittle in thin banded layers. The black material can be like hard amber.. hard and brittle .. but mostly it carves clean and some areas can also be soft like horn. Blunts your knives quite quickly too. The age of the material certainly influences its qualities.


There a load of other things about it.. oh I could just waffle on for hours. :huh:


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Clive. Great topic(s).


Will you show us the other side of your 'mushroom log'? Please? :wub:


What that?.. just a little appetiser dear fellow.. :lol: .. the main course will be served in Oct when I'm back from fishing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I was trawler fishing in the Gulf of Carpentaria in the late 70's we would occasionally pull up some branches of this coral. Usually from the deeper waters ie >15m. They could vary considerably in size and branched like other corals that came out of the water. The diameter was never more than 15mm at its widest and stalks could be 300mm long. We prized the red coral more and although I never succesfully sold any, it always ended up in Cairns at the sea shell shops. It was mostly used for beads at that time. Needless to say I never knew there were creative possibilities such as those posted here..

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...