Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mandarin Duck

I finished this Mandarin drake a couple of months ago. The piece measures 2" in length (5cm). It's carved out of tamboti wood, a.k.a. African sandalwood on account of its pleasant scent. This wood is very difficult to polish as its high resin content clogs sandpapers and resists abrasive powders. The sawdust alone is so moist it clumps together with slight pressure. Also, detailed work is quite difficult to produce as it splinters easily with the grain. However, it exhibits a beautiful chatoyance when one contributes the time and effort to smooth it (as well as a few tricks to deal with the resin). The form is a simplified mandarin duck, with a robustness of shape that fits nicely in the palm of the hand. On the underside I carved an equally strong himotoshi (cord hole) and gave it a signature in relief, as if stamped with a punch.  
It can be rewarding to carve this sort of minimalist netsuke from time to time- distilling a shape to its essence  yet still trying to provide visual and tactile interest, which I hope I've achieved through a sensitive eye inlay and fine-line engraving on the neck and wing feathers.

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