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Ittobori technique study

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Clive
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Postby Clive » Mon Jan 18, 2016 2:46 pm

Thanks for moving these posts to this dedicated thread Martyn.. that will ensure the Hida School thread stays on topic and allow us to explore some of the more technical aspects of Ittobori in this thread.

One thing that I feel we should clear up before continuing is a commonly held myth regarding Ittobori.. it is often mistakenly thought of as a technique in which one tool is used.. this is simply not the case. Many different chisels are traditionally used... the emphasis (and source of the confusion) being that its about one cut rather than one tool.. a clean cut that reveals the beauty of the soft wood to maximum effect, rather than the repeated filing, scraping, sanding and polishing that are used to carve most harder wood netsuke.

It's difficult to show this in images.. but notice the surface on this block of yew.. see a single flat cut made with an extremely sharp tool... see how it reflects light.. the wood cells literally cut clean through.

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Another..

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That clean cut is what Ittobori is all about.. a cut that reveals the beauty of the wood.

Another pic using different light.. notice the beautiful chatoyance that some of these cuts created..

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Clive
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Postby Clive » Mon Jan 18, 2016 3:08 pm

See now how lots of these clean cuts are used to create form.. no sanding.. no polishing.. no staining.. just the natural beauty of the wood and the artist's cut.

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Clive
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Postby Clive » Mon Jan 18, 2016 3:28 pm

OK.. So that then opens the door to address the second myth about Ittobori.. that it is used to produce simple crude carvings. Many are crude and many are simple.. the reality however is that there are also many Ittobori masterpieces that represent as great a technical accomplishment as the great netsuke created using other techniques.

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souldeep
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Postby souldeep » Mon Jan 18, 2016 3:52 pm

Clive... This sort of explanation helps me understand and appreciate the technique in much more depth. Very clear and understandable to a layman collector like myself. It's this sort of educational content that us collectors love, and need, to hear from artists like yourself. Thanks for sharing this info :)
Piglet: "Pooh?" Pooh: "Yes, Piglet?" Piglet: "I've been thinking..." Pooh: "That's a very good habit to get into to, Piglet." - A.A. Milne.

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Clive
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Postby Clive » Mon Jan 18, 2016 5:39 pm

My pleasure Martyn,

So.. you might now be asking yourself what's so difficult about making such clean cuts in softwood.. and you would be right, it's really not that difficult... if you work with the wood.

I'm sure you've heard of the saying "Against the grain" .

Wood has a grain and a direction of the grain... cutting with the direction of the grain give you this..

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Against the grain.. (exaggerated for effect)

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The ittobori carver concerned about achieving the cleanest possible cut must therefore make very careful choices about the direction of each cut made.

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Clive
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Postby Clive » Mon Jan 18, 2016 6:20 pm

So when you consider the quality of a caving like this..

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You begin to appreciate that every single flat or curved cut has not only been considered in terms of the shape the carver is trying to achieve but also exactly how the grain of the wood might take such a cut.

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souldeep
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Postby souldeep » Mon Jan 18, 2016 8:05 pm

That amazes me.

How can a carver know what is hidden away in a block of wood to know that the grain would allow the Hare example above?
Piglet: "Pooh?" Pooh: "Yes, Piglet?" Piglet: "I've been thinking..." Pooh: "That's a very good habit to get into to, Piglet." - A.A. Milne.

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souldeep
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Postby souldeep » Mon Jan 18, 2016 8:29 pm

To put it another way - would the carver of visualised what he wanted to achieve then kept trying until the right block of wood allowed him to complete his design... Or - would the carver let the grain of the particular piece of material guide him to the final outcome? Sometimes not so good, occasionally the wood revealed a master piece.
Piglet: "Pooh?" Pooh: "Yes, Piglet?" Piglet: "I've been thinking..." Pooh: "That's a very good habit to get into to, Piglet." - A.A. Milne.

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souldeep
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Postby souldeep » Mon Jan 18, 2016 8:32 pm

Last post on this before I get accused of spam.

OR have I misunderstood - and the carver would just turn the wood around into the right position to make sure each cut is always with the grain?
Piglet: "Pooh?" Pooh: "Yes, Piglet?" Piglet: "I've been thinking..." Pooh: "That's a very good habit to get into to, Piglet." - A.A. Milne.

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Clive
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Postby Clive » Mon Jan 18, 2016 8:52 pm

No you haven't misunderstood Martyn.. once the carver started blocking out the basic shape simply turning the carving around to facilitate carving with the grain will often not be possible.. so the design itself has to anticipate these challenges.

- hence my earlier comment about the relative accomplishment of this sort of work done extremely well. Raymond Bushell in his book, Collectors Netsuke talks about the relative accomplishment of a carving in Antler versus the same carving in Ivory.. this level of work requires a similar extraordinary spatial awareness and a deep and intimate knowledge of the material and the subject. As a carving exercise, it's the intellectual equivalent of 3 dimensional chess played with extremely sharp knives. :D


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