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Wood Spirits

Ezz El Sherbiny

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My inspiration for carving netsuke comes mostly from pieces by master carvers old and contemporary - people whose art work I can't even dream of being able to replicate but gives me fresh ideas. This piece however was inspired by the general shape of the raw material on hand.


Many years ago I carved this ivory netsuke from an old 5 cm tip that had considerable cracking and splitting which was all integrated as part of the design. The piece was dyed after carving by immersion in boiling tea solution then lightly sanded and polished to form highlights after it had completely dried. Eyes are mother of pearl and tortoise shell (pre-ban) with ebony pupils. Himotoshi were deliberately placed high near the top to produce a ghost-like appearance for the tree trunk at the rear, while the bottom of the piece represents a partly hidden feathery face with one eye peeping from between the feathers ... all very much in the spirit of "Wood Spirits" .... :rolleyes:


Then for some reason I laid this piece inside a drawer where it stayed for years, still unfinished. Time to finish it off by inlaying pupils into the white owl's eyes at the back and putting my signature. I'll try finding small pieces of jet for the eye pupils, a material I've never used before. The available alternative would be either ebony or horn - both easy to carve and look very nice when polished.... we'll see.

Netsuke size 5 x 2.7 cm


Advice from knowledgeable carvers on making tiny jet eye pupils would be dearly appreciated.





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