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Scandinavian Flat Plane/Ittobori

Bob T

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I saw my first ittobori carving (in the flesh, so to speak) today and was struck by the similarities to Scandinavian Flat Plane (SFP) carving. I don't know much about ittobori, but I do know a bit about SFP. It seems to me that the biggest difference between the two styles, in human figures, is that SFP tends to be more "in the round". The arms/hands/legs are more separated from the body in SFP than in the few examples of ittobori I've seen on the web and in person.


SFP is about conveying the essence of the subject with the fewest cuts possible. Some people see it as unfinished, but, in my view, SFP takes more planning and technique than most other forms of in-the-round carving. And the polished surface left by a sharp edge is, again in my view, every bit as pleasing to the touch as 1000-grit sanded surface.


Arguably the most famous SFP carver was Axel Petersson (Doderhultarn) who was active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The critical descriptions of his work read like a definition of the Japanese concept of "shibui".


I would be very interested in hearing from those familiar with ittobori what they think about the comparison of the two styles.


I have included a couple of my own flat-plane carvings. The first is an elf carved from a 1" birch dowel about 3.5" tall. The second is a Santa carved from 1"x1"x2.5" basswood. You can also see SFP carvings by Harley Refsal and others at the following links:

Pinewood Forge

Little Shavers


Bob T






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