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Old dog - new tricks


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Hello world's carvers. You all seem to be here!


My name's Larry Wilkes. I share a small cottage with a chinchilla in rural Eastern England (what remains of it), restoring small carvings and teaching art. I grew up in Malaysia and have been a professional artist in one form or another all of my working life but came across contemporary netsuke only in 1997 when seeing, in magazines, the work of Susan Wraight and the sadly late Guy Shaw.

It was the perfect discovery to make at the time since I was living in a tiny apartment beneath the rooftops of Paris. You don't need much space in which to carve netsuke!

I've done few, but know where I'm trying to go with them, the kind of forms and feel I'm trying to achieve. Somone said they look like they could have been found half buried beneath leaves on a woodland floor. Perfect.


I'll attempt to show you one here. I think I'm going to re-photograph everything for a website presently under construction.


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Welcome aboard! What a nice surprise to see the photo and read your story. Thank you for introducing yourself. I look forward to seeing more.


Is the above carving from boxwood, and how was it colored and finished?

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Thankyou all for your kind encouragement. And thankyou Janel for such a great platform.


The figure wrapped in a leaf (no title) is European boxwood, stained with layers of ink of such an ancient vintage I can't remember where I got it. Soon I'm going to have to concoct my own recipes, looking for nutty, earthy colours.


I've a splendid walnut tree in my garden thanks to the 5th c Roman army, who imported them for dyeing purposes (oh alright and paved roads and a system of law etc etc) but I have to wait until October for the nuts. And get there before the squirrel!


The piece is 4X3cm, inlaid with a tablet of 22ct gold, initialled 'W'.


I use a pure bristle brush, actually a 19th c toothbrush, to finish as it does interesting things to the layers of colour as well as leave a pleasant sheen.


I've been working on 'seed' and insect forms, simple shapes with a degree of improvisation, seemingly primitive and raw, but that's how they are. I plan to sculpt much bigger versions of this subject during the summer, from local trees, to place in the grounds of the old gardens which are being restored on the country estate where I rent my house.


So new pics of other work soon.



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Guest DFogg

More and bigger, and more please.


I would love to see your surroundings too. Shop and countryside, I have fantasies of escaping there one day.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Larry, about the walnuts for stain. Natasha collects and freezes the green nuts. When it is time to use the dye she prepares the stain in a way which is different than the boiling and reducing method. I'll start a topic in the Tools & Materials area, and see if she will describe her technique.

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