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Netsuke


Guest katfen

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Yes, boxwood is way up there on my list. However, the more I carve, the more I am learning about the differences between woods. I don't just mean from a color and density standpoint. I'm learning which woods are dry, which are somewhat waxy or oily. Which are suitable for detail work, which are beautiful for abstract pieces. Which polish easily, which clog up sandpaper.

Ebony is about as dense as boxwood (anecdotally), but is grainier or grittier. A top-end piece of ebony is a joy to carve- sanding is another issue (sneeze!). You'll notice though that your tools get duller faster when working on it- I think there are small particles of silica which do the dulling.

 

Yew- utilized in Japan most often for ittobori-style carving, ie. 'one-cut, or one-knife carving' - it works very well, for that whittled look. When cut with a very sharp knife or chisel, it practically polishes itself.

 

Holly is nice to carve and a nice color/grain, but seems to get mucked up with hand oils very quickly leaving it a dull gray. I takes dye well.

 

Cherry is beautiful, given the right piece with tight grain.

 

A friend gave me plum recently which is working out very well for the body of a miniature lute I'm carving. A wonderful honey-brown color when oiled and a nice swirly grain.

 

Living here in Indiana, we have a lot of black walnut, persimmon, sassafrass and hickory; all of which hold promise.

 

Texas Ebony (don't know the Latin, I think it's related to the mimosa) is a beautiful chocolate brown, but strangely waxy and kind of stringy.

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The trouble with this hobby of miniature carving, your ideas get way ahead of your hands. At one or two carvings per month, I'll be dead before I explore all the craft has to offer. :)

 

In my mind, this thing called SKILL is as much about knowing ones materials- their assets and limitations, their natures so to speak as it is about hand skills. Experience and observation give us the knowledge to choose the right material for the job at hand. There's a saying- 'you can polish a brick all day but it will never be a mirror'. I think this applies to carving materials in a very literal way.

-Doug

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  • 2 weeks later...

The lighter color woods/hand oil concern... Could you seal the wood with oil after the sanding process to prevent the wood from becoming dingy with hand oil?

 

I like using two colored woods for the exercise of composing the subjects together. Usually the combination is lighter sapwood and darker heart wood. The heart wood is the most dense and more capable for detail than the sap wood. That aspect helps to define what might go where and how the subjects relate to the wood. Such woods as: cocous wood, african blackwood, oysterwood, wamara have met my tools.

 

Boxwood is probably my most often used wood. There are different qualities among the woods that come from around the world. I have tried a few, and look forward to meeting more.

 

With Yew or Cedar, you must concentrate and carve in the correct direction, with the grain or the cut is likely to pull up a splinter. You have to read the wood and follow its rules.

 

Carving so many kinds of wood, we are so lucky! So much to choose from...

 

Janel

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Guest DFogg

Wouldn't it be nice to carve something friendly? Everything I work with has to withstand handling and abuse so it is hard, chippy, ie miserable to carve.

 

One of these days I am going to carve something for the shelf. What would be the perfect carving material? Soap and clay don't count.

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Don,

Run and hide if someone tells you to have a go at basswood- can't stand the stuff :) . Have a go at a nice block of cherry. Soft enough it won't take you forever, but hard enough that it'll have sufficient heft when held, and will keep a nice amount of detail. Yew is really receptive- if you can get hold of some.

 

I guess it all depends on what you want to carve...

 

I'm just a wee sprout with this miniature carving- just trying to get a grasp on it, but in another lifetime I'm going to branch out, pick up a hefty 2" chisel, mallette and go to it making six foot temple statues. B)

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Guest DFogg

Way back when, I met an old blacksmith who had a 18"x18" square outside his shop with iron letters that said, "It it don't fit through here, I don't make it."

 

He also had a favorite hammer that he would give me if I could guess the wood. It was blueberry.

 

I don't have any blueberry handles, but I did adhere to the size limitation and am afraid that totems won't fit. I am shooting for "shelf art" sizes.

 

I will hunt up some boxwood and give that a try.

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Guest DFogg

Shelf Art is anything that will fit on a shelf. Bric a brac and chachka [sp] sized stuff.

 

I personally love small objects and keep them around my bookcase, on top of my desk and montiors, kitchen window sill, places where I stop frequently. I think other people do to, beautiful objects for everyday places. Not as grand as wall art or yard art, but more intimate, much like jewellry. I love Jim's boxes, what a wonderful form.

 

Sometimes I will make practice pieces to try out a new technique and they will turn out good enough to land on the shelf. Odd bits of metal with texture and color, carved bits of amber to catch the light, it doesn't have to be precious, just interesting. I get ideas from them and inspiration.

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