Horse Netsuke – A little update

Horse Netsuke in Pear wood,shaping up nicely
The shape of the Horse Netsuke is really coming through.

Since the last Horse Netsuke post I have been concentrating on the overall shape of the horse and the placing of the legs and hooves.

The more I worked on the legs the more I realised it was time to cut the Netsuke from the block of pear wood. In the end you just get to the stage where you can’t get the tools into the spaces you need them to go as the rest of the block is in the way.

This Netsuke was relatively easy to cut free, a straight cut across the block. Though making sure the base remains flat is essential otherwise the horse will not stand upright or will stand at a funny angle.

Once the Netsuke is released from the block it can make it more tricky to hold so you tend to work a bit slower and more carefully so that you don’t end up carving your hands as well as the wood.

It took me a little while to finally decide where the legs would be exactly and you can see in the photo the pencil lines on the legs to aid me in this. Yet again I regretted not making a three dimensional maquette.

I did get it sorted eventually after lots of thinking. I feel that its better to spend lots of time thinking before you try something on the final Netsuke as you can quite easily ruin something this small!

The legs are well on their way to becoming four separate entities instead of one large block. As you can see in the next photo they are still all attached at one point or the other.

I have also started to define the face. My aim with the head is to keep the ears within the forelock and mane as a protection for the tips as they could very easily stick out and then would stand a chance of breaking off or snagging on fabric.

It is starting to look like the amount of wood left in the height of the mane will be too much, this is something that can be left for the moment until more of the horse is locked in. Its better to wait and see as its easier to carve wood away than it is to add it on afterwards!


Even more defining of the legs and face of the Horse Netsuke
More refinements of the Horse Netsuke.


One decision I have made is that the tail will stay connected to the hind legs, I’m not quite sure how just yet as I think there is a little too much tail there at the moment. I’m sure it will sort itself out in the end, I’m not worrying for the moment.

From here on in its a case of refining everything and making sure to keep an eye on the overall shape and look of the horse. No matter how good the detail is it has to look like a horse to begin with! Oh and I have to decide how the mane will look, at the moment I have no idea how it will turn out.


I’m going to leave it there for now, I’d love to know what you think of the progression of the Horse Netsuke, let me know in the comments.






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’ .


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Claire

    It looks like it’s coming along great Jutta. How ‘done’ is it at this point? About half, or more than that?

    1. Jutta

      Hello Claire,

      Erm I would say less than half really as there is a lot still to be done once the carving is finished, I’ll explain more in future posts.


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