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Sockeyes Netsuke


tsterling

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I’m currently working on a new netsuke, and am posting an ongoing progress tutorial. I’m posting it on my web site since there are lots of images and I’m rapidly using up my image quota here on the forum.

 

Here’s the link:

 

http://www.sterlingsculptures.com/Resource...tutorial_01.htm

 

I started this as a step-by-step entry for a how-to book I'm writing on netsuke carving. I self published the original version in the early 90's and hawked it at carving shows (the market target is hobby woodcarvers, with patterns and projects). Now I'm updating the black and white print version (70 pages) to be self-published this spring in CDROM with lots of full living color, now well over 200 pages.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Tom,

Your sockeye netsuke is a neat piece. Have you thought of casting the polymer clay study piece in metal? You could cast as many as you would ever want or need in pewter. The process is easy using a rubber mold. The cost for the mold would be $20.00 and about $.30 to $.50 each for the pewter. This process is nice for any sculpture up to six or eight inches. You could also make copies of any of your origional carvings but the polymer pieces are expendable once the carving is completed so no risk is involved. If you do shows you could create a limited edition of your pieces in metal that way getting a double return on each piece.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Tom,

 

Thanks for the ongoing tutorial. It has been interesting! I like how you do the eggs. I have had sore fingertips while trying to grasp the tiny bits when trying to shape them. Your solution is a great tip (and finger tip saver :) )!

 

Janel

 

PS: I do use quick epoxy to glue small inlay material to the end of a skewer or small diameter dowel to enable a more comfortable grasp while working on the inlay. There have been some things that I have not done because of the small diameter material size. The wrap and glue method is a much more secure way to keep something connected when some force is being applied that might otherwise challenge the glue joint.

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Hi Janel,

 

Other than coming up with "workable" ideas for carvings, work holding has been my biggest bugaboo, especially for tiny pieces. Cramps in the hand (strangely the one holding the little pieces, not the carving tool hand!) are often avoided when I take the time to cobble up a holding device. I've come to really like the lashing in addition to superglue, since I don't like to wait for epoxy in a sacrificial holder, even the "5 minute" kind (that has no strength to resist my ham fisted carving style without at least an hour's curing!).

 

You mentioned small diameter material. It just struck me that for long pieces of material, you might try drilling a hole in the end of a dowel and gluing in the materials. Just a loose and untidy thought, like most of mine!?...

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:) Good Idea!

 

Thanks Tom,

 

Such a technique would add to the security of the piece and perhaps I could then use a little more ham with my efforts when using materials other than amber on the end of a stick! Having met you, I appreciate your strong hands and the careful work you do.

 

Janel

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Tom, that tutorial is coming along amazing, I can't wait to see the finished Netsuke.

For the little round roe pieces, something I have seen elsewhere and done myself, is to chuck the wooden shaft in an electric drill, and spin the piece while I work on it. It helps to quickly get the piece round.

Just a thought, thanks for showing us. :)

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  • 2 months later...

Hi Tom,

 

I had a look at the last page of the tutorial, where the client wanted the beautiful first set of eyes replaced with the amber eyes. They are wonderful too!

 

I have a question about using amber and sumi, a traditional combination. When I have tried to put sumi into the recess of an eye, the sumi dries and pops away from the surface of the amber. This looks awful, so I have experimented with other ways of blackening the pupil.

 

What have I done incorrectly? Sumi would be so easy to use if I did it right.

 

Thanks for any insights you have to offer.

 

Janel

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Hi Janel,

 

That's weird - I've never had that happen. I wonder what we are doing that is different from each other? I use already prepared sumi ink (in a green bottle - commercial), not ink I grind fresh. I also use diamond burrs to carve the pupil indentation, and don't smooth the recess. The (fine) diamond leaves it frosted. Are you polishing your indentation? That, or perhaps cleaning the recess, are the only explanations I can think of at the moment that might make the sumi let go. I don't think the surface should be glass smooth. Any kind of glass smooth surface is a bear to glue, even with modern epoxies, and fish glue is what binds sumi ink (tiny soot particles) together.

 

Oh, I also make sure I fill the recess (after the sumi has dried) with clear epoxy when I glue the eye into the hole.

 

Probably not much help, but it's the sum total of my knowledge on the subject!?

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Tom's answer seems to point at most of the possible solutions. I've used bottled sumi also. There's something in it different from what one gets when hand-grinding. I've noticed when the bottled stuff is dry, it forms a film- sort of like acrylic paint. This may be why it stays intact. There will also be a preservative in the bottled stuff which may effect its properties. If you're griding your own, perhaps you need to grind a bit more. Sumi when properly prepared can be a relatively viscous thing. Not thin like commercial writing ink.

 

I second Tom's opinion about not polishing it too smoothly. Could your polishing be leaving some sort of oily/greasy film impervious to water-based sumi?

Alcohol might be something you could consider. After polishing, wipe a Q-tip damp with alcohol on the surface to be sumi painted. It will etch the amber just enough to provide a better grip, possibly.

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Yup. There are differences.

 

I grind from an old stick, not to a viscous degree.

I polished the recess, then tried not polishing or unpolishing it.

 

I did not know that sumi was also a prepared ink. Thought that it meant stick form only. (I stopped learning a long time ago on this front, duh.)

 

Next time I'll do it using your suggestions. I want to make it work.

 

Thanks for the help.

 

Janel

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  • 9 months later...

The tutorial is fabulous! I am astounded that your client insisted on changing the eyes. de gustibus etc.

 

I think the tutorial would be improved with the following "improvements" (IMHO)

 

 

1. Pictures should periodically, not all but some, be very much larger to show the specific detail under discussion - e.g., eggs, crayfish claws/eyes. Perhaps this is a limitation of your photographic equipment, in which case, a more powerful close-up setup would be in order.

 

2. Tools: It would help immeasurably if the tools you used (including any home-made scrapers, files, rasps etc; and sandpapers, finishing "thingies") were shown in excruciating detail also. For example, you mention sandpaper "pads". What are they? And what do they look like? How do you hold and use them? Especially helpful would be very closeup pictures as well as sources - particularly for "off-brand" tools.

 

3. Although not as important, would be some sort of a timeline so the novice (as am I) could have some idea of the amount of time/work involved in this. I know this is only one project, but it might give some idea of the kind of labor involved (for later pricing?).

 

I am just getting back into carving, as Janel knows, and perhaps my suggestions might be seen as dumbing down a superb work, my hope would be they would enrich your wonderful work for everyone.

 

Ralph

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Hi Ralph,

 

Thanks for the feedback. I decided to put more extensive discussions about tool use and construction in the CDROM book about netsuke carving I've been writing. It's in final editing right now. I've used full resolution photos in the book, so the user can zoom in on them, but decided on small ones for the web site tutorial. I have cable broadband now, but distinctly remember the original soda straw connection I started with, when a large picture download meant a trip to the coffee pot, a game with the cat, fixing lunch, et al.

 

As to time, a netsuke generally takes me about two weeks total carving time. That translates to 10-12 days, eight hours a day. Obviously, I don't clock in, nor do I necessarily carve every day. There are days when 18 carving hours might happen, and others where maybe 2 hours happen. It all depends on other things tugging on my schedule, but mainly how I'm feeling about the piece at the time. When things are clicking, I can carve for long periods, not even noticing the passage of time. Other times, even an hour can be onerous.

 

I often find that the initial rough out stages are often the onerous part, when it seems like the idea was a bad one and won't ever come together. I try to push through that, and rarely give up on a piece, even though I initially might want to. I find I enjoy the detail phases the best - a little glimpse into my personality quirks, I guess. Hope this answers your questions.

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