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Strange Inros


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Hello carving path members,

Here are some photos of the boxes I've been making for the last year or two. They're roughly based on the Inro with one or two main differences, some being very obvious and others less so.

I use a range of woods for the main body. The teeth and eyes are inlayed with either box or holly.

I hope you find them interesting!


Paolo del Toro









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Hello Paolo,


Wow! I am delighted and intrigued by your boxes, and have spent the past half hour looking at your blog studying just the first page. Your charming and expressive illustrations in wood are such a fresh idea. I admire how you are able to portray the personalities of the subjects. Also, I am fascinated by the inlay use and how you have worked the wood to function as inro boxes.


Thank you so much for sharing these today. These are quite well developed since you introduced yourself with the little Pickle Man!


You have helped me learn today. I am fascinated by what you can do with wood and your tools and a little sumi ink.



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Thanks for the kind words Janel! It's really encouraging to get such positive feedback on this project. :)

It's a bit of an odd direction to find myself going in, coming from an illustration background. I think some people think I've gone a bit mad making these odd little boxes, but it feels like the right direction to go in.

Your work and the work of others on the carving path forum have really helped inspire a lot of the work I've made in the last few years.

So thanks for being so inspiring!!

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Thank you too! Your work is delightful. I am curious about your carving techniques and what tools you use. If you are willing to share a bit of that information you could start a topic in the Tools & Technical, or Techniques areas. You do not have to share all of your trade secrets, I am just curious how you approach removing so much wood and how you achieve the final surface and what you do to finish it.


Since I began carving I have wanted to be a bug sitting on the shoulder of many carvers. There is so much to learn if it were possible.



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these are realy cool. i cant view your blog at work but when i get home im going to start browsing your site. im inturested in how these are made i know from expierence as a wood worker how hard it is to make a lid fit tightly. and considering they traditionaly(at least from what i saw when i looked them up) had several comparments so to make each compartment fit is inturesting.

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Thanks Dan and Janel!

Next time I make one I'll try and take some photos of my process for the Tools & Technical, or Techniques areas. I'm normally terrible at remembering to take photos of my process, I get so caught up in the moment.


One simple thing I can share without needing photos is that I use 4 sided nail buffing pads to get the lacquer type finish, I would really highly recommend them, and have personally found that the 'shine' side seems to add a higher gloss to wood than even the finest grade micro mesh. I paint on thinned indian ink then buff and repeat over and over, the benefit over a thick lacquer is that you can still see the grain of the wood, and it catches the light in a very unusual way that nicely simulates glossy fur. The photo of the cat is an early photo that unfortunately doesn't show this, and the bat is made of ebony. I plan to make a animated GIF at some point that would show alterations in light on the surface of an object. but that's another story.



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