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Jet - what is it? Umimatsu, considered here also


kwinn

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I was surfing around some netsuke-related links, and found myself at the web site of Alexander Derkachenko (users.iptelecom.net.ua/~netsuke/)

Mr. Derkachenko has a wonderful home page with many fantastic works that I would highly recommend visiting.

 

Anyway, he refers to a material called "jet" that he uses for eye inlays. I seem to remember reading somewhere that Jet is an artificial (i.e. plastic) material, but that's about all I can recall. I can't find any discussions of this in the history of this forum, so I thought I'd pose the question (well, actually I'll pose a few...)

 

What is Jet?

How do you work it?

What is it good (or not good) for?

What have you used it for?

Where can we obtain some?

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Kelly

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That is interesting, thanks Jim. When I was at the netsuke convention, Ms. Yukari Yoshida presented inforation about Iwami carvers and the region of Iwami. There is a black material that emerges from the soil, which is called petrified wood, though it is not the quart-like mineralized petrified wood of the SouthWest USA. I wonder if it is a jet-like material.

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That is interesting, thanks Jim.  When I was at the netsuke convention, Ms. Yukari Yoshida presented inforation about Iwami carvers and the region of Iwami.  There is a black material that emerges from the soil, which is called petrified wood, though it is not the quart-like mineralized petrified wood of the SouthWest USA.  I wonder if it is a jet-like material.

She was probably talking about umimatsu(trans. Japanese "sea-pine"). I have yet to see a convincing definition of such. I think Clive Hallam uses it and perhaps he or Ford can enlighten us.

It may be a type of coral. Very beautiful material in the right context.

 

Here are a pair of okimono (sculpture) of eggplants, 5" long courtesy of Kagedo Gallery in umimatsu with what looks like growth rings.

post-4-1140997928.jpg

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Those are beautiful!

 

I had an opportunity to handle the black material from Iwami, and it is a petrified tree material, the structure and the weight of it are right for it. Coral is much more dense and cooler to the touch. I do believe that the trees experienced what ever it takes to resemble jet, but not in the quantity of layers that coal seams were formed. I hope to learn more about it, if I get to go there.

 

Yes, Clive has used umimatsu. He had a few carvings of it at the last convention.

 

Oh, I do like those eggplants!

 

Janel

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Umimatsu has the appearance of fossilized wood but is in fact a form of black coral. In a netsuke book I found it defined as: "actually a colony of keratinous antipatharian marine organisms". Keratin is also the basis of horn, nails etc. Umimatsu is formed with branches, bark and offshoots like other corals.

 

Ko Baas

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Peter Welsh has responded to the umimatsu discussion in two email messages:

 

Just a quick input re: umimatsu.

 

www.mda.org.uk/bmmat/mathesh/htm

 

is the British Museum materials site. They state petrified wood. (I was unable to access the information...)

 

While

 

http://filaman.ifm-geomar.de/TrophicEco/SpeciesList.xls>http://filaman.ifm-geomar.de/TrophicEco/SpeciesList.xls

 

states coral. And, backs-up their claim with scientific name. I would go with this one, as the scientific name is identified - Antipathes grandis

 

(This site requires Microsoft Premium 2000 to open and save)

 

Hope this helps,

 

Peter.

 

And:

 

There seems to be some confusion with the various species of coral. They are not all the same. Basically, the red and pink varieties, are hard. Their skeletons are magnesium and calcium rich. Black (Antipathes) corals (These are not the shallow sea reef corals, they are deep water corals) have protein skeletons. i.e. keratinous. Therefore, they may feel 'waxy' to the touch. There are many species of 'black' coral. So, their make-up will probably differ between the individual species. As a workable material, the coral collected off the coast of Iwami, and known as Umimatsu, may well be very different from Antipathes species found elsewhere.

 

All of the black corals are subject to CITES regulations.

 

I have two more inquiries pending from knowledgeable sources. I will add them when received.

 

Janel

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Here's some more information on jet from an art materials database offered through the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston:

 

A dense, black, lignite coal that can be carved and polished. Jet is found in large deposits near Whitby in England and in the Asturias in northern Spain. Smaller deposits are found in France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Portugal, Canada, and the USA. Jet was formed from driftwood from pines of the Araucaria genus that were subjected to intense pressure. The soft, brittle material flakes easily and can be worked with saws, drills and engraving tools. Jet has been used for beads, jewelry, cameos, buttons, and small decorative items since Neolithic times. Jet became popular as mourning jewelry during Victorian times. Imitation jet jewelry has been made from black glass (Paris jet), dyed chalcedony, black tourmaline, obsidian, melanite, ebonite, and vulcanite.

Synonyms

Paris jet

Composition: CAS#: Mohs hardness: Melting point ©:

2.0 - 3.0

 

Molecular weight: Density: Refractive index: Boiling point ©:

1.15-1.3

 

Other properties:

Soluble in white spirit, acetone and other solvents.

Flakes conchoidally. Accepts and retains a high polish.

Burns with greenish flame, copious smoke and bituminous smell.

Most become magnetic when rubbed or warmed.

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From Komada Makiko, daughter of netsuke carver Komada Ryushi:

 

Regarding Umimatsu: My father says that umimatsu

is a kind of coral (he says he heard so from someone, but unfortunately

he doesn't know its scientific name). Roughly speaking, there are two

types (of colors): brownish ones, and blackish ones. My father says he

has a piece that is greenish gold in color, and it is also umimatsu

(coral), but a dead one (and it may be why the color is so unusual).

Umimatsu can be found in the sea around Hawaii and California (black

coral, a Hawaiian specialty souvenir, is also a kind of umimatsu).

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