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Ittobori technique study

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Postby Clive » Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:19 pm

kudan wrote:That said, however, I don't find these carvings beautiful--even the Morita Soko Rabbit on which Clive is so keen--any more than I like Cubist art, Henry Moore sculptures or Jackson Pollack paint dribbles. The easy comparison here is to the ubiquitous Kagetoshi netsuke of a pastoral scene in a grove or pavillion--each so minutely and expertly carved--leaving many a collector with a "wow!" but not with an "I want that!" This is a very personal statement, obviously, but I would be very curious to know who among you actually would seek ittobori carvings to cherish in your collections--not as a curiosity but as a centerpiece. Well, at least now I know why ittobori carvings aren't my cup of tea.

That's interesting Kudan, many thanks you for your appreciative and personal comments.

FWIW.. I think Soko's hare is a beautiful carving precisely because it isn't trying to be beautiful and it asks nothing of me... it simply represents to a quite extraordinary degree a unique dialogue between a master carver, a material and a subject... and in doing so helps me appreciate each in a truly intimate way. Would I have it as the centrepiece of a netsuke collection (if I chose to create one).. probably not. Is it a carving I might carry around in my pocket, to take out every now and then when the craziness of the world begins to overwhelm me, without a doubt.

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Postby peter » Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:46 pm

You absolutely Right.
This is the real art, witch give You better feeling in bad time, or only wonder how they was made.
The art of this material concrete article few basic material wood or ivory or any else,plus the artistic merit and the ILLUSION. Or the music, same, only listening and enjoy .
Any give You a better feeling for Your live are important.
A simple conversation , a glass of beer with friends, reading a book in silence, or a netsuke ( as Judy told us ) to find the historical or master background the age the style or any else give me or give us the good feeling.
Yes sometimes the profit after selling , but we jump again the next mystery piece.
I think this is our goal.

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Postby Clive » Wed Jan 20, 2016 2:12 pm

Agreed Peter.

And a collection can be many things.. :D

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Postby GiantSquid » Wed Jan 20, 2016 2:15 pm

Martyn mentions impressionism (an art form that I too have a strong attraction to) and I wonder if perhaps some ittobori works do have more in common with impressionism than cubism?

I think picking one netsuke is a very difficult, if not impossible task. I currently have four ittobori works and in the future I may have less or more. I appreciate and to some extent like all netsuke, just some I like (love) more. What I mean is appreciating a netsuke is not the same as wanting to collect it. I guess I agree with what Martyn has said. We all have our favourites, our personal preferences, which may or may not change a little or a lot other time. That is one of the joys of this art form - there is so much diversity in such a small space.

Thank you for your time educating us on the intricacies of ittobori work Clive. I hadn't fully comprehended before a lot of what you have said. Long may that continue.
"The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones." John Maynard Keynes, 1883 - 1946

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Postby Clive » Wed Jan 20, 2016 2:25 pm

My pleasure Richard.. and may I just say that your suggestion that some Ittobori might have more in common with impressionism than cubism brought a big smile to my face. If anything I have said has helped you see that then I will be extremely satisfied.. because I feel that too. 8-)

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Postby souldeep » Wed Jan 20, 2016 2:29 pm

Clive - a beautiful explanation of another reason for adding to a collection. The piece comes with a history, a story, attached. Thank you.
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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Postby Bakurae » Thu Jan 21, 2016 1:23 am

This conversation gives me a new appreciation not just for my one ittobori netsuke,


but for the whole type--a visible convergence of skill, observation and thought. It will be great to see Clive's cicada.


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Postby kudan » Thu Jan 21, 2016 6:37 am

What I was trying to note--somewhat in-art-fully (this pun may have some significance below)-- is that, although Clive's master class has given me a window onto a type of carving that I had hitherto given short shrift, my newfound insight has not, thus far, caused me to be moved by these abstractions. It is the shift between intellectual and emotional.

Perhaps we are now moving toward a different thread but art, for me, requires a connection--something ineffable--but wonderfully present. To be IN ART FULLY, means lost, immersed. Impressionism fulfills that in spades. Cubism doesn't (at least for me) and Jackson Pollack and much of modern art is just, well, perhaps I ought to refrain from completing this remark.

This is not about netsuke snobbery. If I had to name the Top-10 netsuke in my collection, yes, there would be a Kaigyokusai and a Shoko but it is because they are beautiful to me. The piece I want to be buried with, however, is a roughly-hewn, very worn and perhaps not-very-well-done netsuke that I bought for $400; it is great art to me because it speaks to me (not literally--I am not that far gone yet, no matter what some others might say). Do ittobori carvings speak to you?

Ittobori is clearly skillful, abstract and interpretive. Yet, somehow, it seems to me to be more of a conversation between carver and material to the exclusion of third parties. Impressionism is meant to convey the essence of the artist to the viewer. There is no "impression" without the eyes of the beholder. In ittobori, the audience seems an afterthought. The one-cut Soko Hare is a tour-de force, no doubt and Soko was clearly capable of rendering the subject masterfully in any style he chose. Why he chose ittobori, we will never know,

But, then he was one cut above....

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Postby jbjtennyo » Sun Jan 24, 2016 2:38 pm

Clive, I have not seen "Throw Mama from the Train", but I was very moved by this segment that you have shown us here. It is indeed the warmest of feelings to handle something that allows us to travel back in time, and remember where it came from. This happens for me a lot when I handle or clean my parents antiques--things they said- where they bought them--what they meant to them.
With the netsuke that I have purchased, it is different as those family memories are not attached. But when I hold a netsuke, I can visualize the block of wood, the carver turning it in his hands, checking out the colors and textures, smiling quietly to himself as he sees his work positioned inside that block. If you are very imaginative, you can travel where the netsuke has been, the image of many tumbling it in their hands, in a pensive mood, feeling the surface of it, oops--even dropping in on the ground where it hit a rock and caused that little chip just there. I can see a child picking it up and asking what it is--and dad reaching out and holding it closely in his son's hand, saying "It was my Grandad's netsuke--I remember him wearing it before we had pockets on our pants! Be gentle with it--it is very precious to me".
I think it almost soulful to realize that your carving will live long, be handled and appreciated by so many, and find its way down through time and many lives.


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Postby Bakurae » Sun Jan 24, 2016 4:09 pm

A beautiful summation of a major reason why we're here. I'm going to print it and keep it handy. Thanks, Judy.


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