What use are Tagua Nuts to me?

Tagua Nuts
Tagua Nuts

 

No I don’t want to eat them. You see Tagua nuts can be carved and they are just the right size for Netsuke.

In fact another name for them is Vegetable Ivory as they can be used as a substitute for Ivory. Under that brown inner ‘husk’ they are lovely and white, although they do tend to have a hole in the middle so that has to be taken into consideration when working out a design.

So why am I so excited about these things? I have wanted to try to carve these for ages but every timber seller I saw face to face didn’t have them and as they’re not a necessity I didn’t look anywhere online for them. Until the other day I had an urgent job come through and I had to go get some timber for it as I didn’t have the timber they wanted.

At this particular timber place they have loads and loads of different types of timber as they sell blanks and spindles for turners. Its one of those places I can’t go to often as I have a tendency to buy lots and lots, good for them and bad for my bank balance! All of a sudden I spotted bags of Tagua Nuts on the shelf and decided what the hell I was there, they were there, they needed to come home with me.

I have done a little reading and research on Tagua Nuts, mainly through my general Netsuke reading and research. It seems that you can carve them with normal gouges and that burrs are good on them aswell, also you can stain them too. I think I need to do a little more reading before I start carving, but not too much or I won’t get to the carving!

So now I have a bag of nuts that need to be squirrelled away until I come up with designs that are right for them. Fantastic stuff I can’t wait.

Oh and Tagua Nuts can be eaten, they are left for a couple of months to harden before they can be carved but before that they can be eaten.

 

 

 

 

Jutta M Stiller is a wood carver and sculptor specialising in Netsuke and Couture frames click here to subscribe to her newsletter ‘Tales From the Woodcarving Bench’ .

 

A little Dormouse Netsuke update

Progress image of my Dormouse Netsuke carving in Popular
Progress pic of my Dormouse Netsuke carving

 

I thought it was about time for an update on my Netsuke carving of a curled up Dormouse.

I have been working on the carving off and on since the last post, as each time I reach a bit I need to think about I put the carving down and carry on with something else, such is the luxury of working on something you want to as opposed to something that is on another persons deadline.

As you can see from the picture he is now separated from the post he was on, I couldn’t get the gouges where I needed to get them so I cut around his bottom very carefully and got him free from the wood. Now he is a little more difficult to hold but I’m making sure that I carve quite carefully as I do like my fingers!

I have been sanding him which has helped to refine the shape and make him look a little less ‘woolly’ than before.

I am spending a lot of time making sure the overall shape works as it passes under the feet and under the tail, trying to make sure that the tail sits over the body rather than into it.

Speaking of feet I’ve had a little accident with his left foot, one of the toes has crumbled and come away from the carving. The decision now is whether to leave him with uneven amounts of toes and call him a freak of nature, or to try to glue on a piece of wood to replace the toe. I can’t carve the foot deeper in to recover the toe unless I reset the whole carving making it even smaller.

I suppose really it depends on what I want to do with the carving when its finished, if I’m going to keep it for me as my first ever Netsuke carving then it’ll be fine to leave it as it is. If I want to sell it then maybe a repair is the best thing to do.

So at the moment this carving has gone back into the drawer while I think through the problem.

Its now time for me to move onto my next carving, strangely enough I already have the maquette made up, though you’ll have to wait till next time to find out what it is.

 

 

 

 

Jutta M Stiller is a wood carver and sculptor specialising in Netsuke and Couture frames click here to subscribe to her newsletter ‘Tales From the Woodcarving Bench’ .

 

A little Netsuke carving is taking shape

Dormouse Netsuke roughed out in Poplar
Dormouse Netsuke roughed out in Poplar

 

So ok I just couldn’t wait any longer to share this with you, I am so excited. It took a lot of willpower to not post this yesterday but I promised myself I would leave at least a day between each post of this project.

I have started to carved the Dormouse Netsuke shown as a maquette in my last post here

I couldn’t decide which wood to use, in the end I chose Poplar purely because the piece I had behind my workbench was roughly the right size! I know great decision making, I had make a start somewhere.

I’m not sure that Poplar is the best choice for something this small, and I’m also not sure if he will be small enough to class as a Netsuke. He is already smaller than the maquette was, only time will tell.

So far I think he is going really well, the overall shape is looking a lot like the maquette, but there is still a lot of work to do.

Once the overall shape has been smoothed out the next part is the finer details and progress I think will slow down from here as any mistake at this point could ruin the carving completely, I really don’t want to do that.

For a first attempt at something of this size I am really pleased, I think it may also be my first carving in the round. I just can’t wait to get the rest of him completed and cut off from the supporting block he is currently sitting on.

I will post updates as soon as I have them.

 

 

 

 

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Something a little different

dormouse netsuke maquette
Dormouse Netsuke maquette

Little being the operative word here, no bigger than 4cm in any direction.

This is my plasticene maquette for a Dormouse Netsuke I am going to carve.

For ages I’ve wanted to try carving Netsuke, the tiny toggles used historically by Japanese people as a way of securing their belongings as Kimonos have no pockets.

I have spent some time researching, looking at historic Netsuke and the current work out there, reading everything I can find on the subject including a book by Peter Benson called ‘The Art of Carving Netsuke’.

The first project in the book is carving a Dormouse, I liked the idea but decided to design my own as you can see in the image.

All I have to do now is decide which wood to carve it in ……….. progress reports will follow.

 

 

 

 

If you liked this post, are interested in what I do and would like to be first know more of what I’m up to before every one else subscribe to my newsletter for FREE updates. I will never, ever, ever share your information with anyone else.