bookmark_borderBento Lunch

I’ve been making these bento lunches for a few years now, but for some reason I have never posted about them here.

Bento Lunch 2022.10.18

Upper left: pickled daikon, pickled cucumber and peppers, pickled carrot, pickled ginger with yukari, simmered taro

Upper right: Shredded cabbage with dressing, topped with salmon flakes, black sesame seeds, and seaweed flakes

Lower left: Mushroom rice with roasted shiitake mushrooms

Lower right: Tofu with soy sauce and togarashi spices, imitation crab meat with spices

I have to do quite a bit of prep work on the weekend to be able to put these together in ten minutes in the morning, but it is fun and tasty.

bookmark_borderMark 2 14th Century Toolchest

Took a second swing at this project. Here it is up on sawhorses in my workshop/garage:

14th Century Japanese Toolchest

It’s huge! It’s 4.5 feet long and a foot wide. It fits in the trunk of my car ok if I fold the rear seats down, but it’s way too big. Probably at fault is my desire to use 1by8 for the sides. To keep the length in proportion to the height it’s just way too long. Maybe I’ll try again sometime with 1by6 instead. That would make it only about 40 inches long by my reckoning. Compare the image below with the original painting.

Toolchest with Lid Askew

I’m also pretty sure I should be making my battens narrower, and probably from the full 3/4″ thickness of board instead of my 1/2″ planed-down thickness. As a bonus, here is an image of all the tools I needed to construct this Mark 2 chest, stored in the Mark 1:

Tools to Make a Toolchest

There’s not much you need, really, to build a simple chest.

bookmark_borderNew Older Japanese Tool Chest

Most of the Japanese toolchests I make follow the pattern established by Toshio Odate, which makes them very traditional, but very modern.

From Page 10 of Odate’s
Japanese Woodworking Tools

So what were Japanese toolchests like in the medieval period? Similar in some ways, but a lot less sophisticated.

From the circa 1309 emaki
Kasuga Gongen Genki-e

In this fourteenth century illustrated scroll, two apprentices take a break from working on the construction site of a new temple. One leans against a tool chest that is open, showing some tools inside. We can estimate that this chest is about 3 feet long, about 1 foot wide, and six or seven inches deep. The end handles and clever locking mechanism are missing, but the cross battens keep the lid from falling in. The wood seems very thin, represented by a single line whereas the battens are shown with rectangular ends. No joinery or fasteners are visible, which makes them something of a mystery. Butt joinery is used on the modern chest, so we can assume it was used here, too. No edge to the bottom of the box is visible, so the bottom piece is most likely fully captive. Nails are used on the modern chest, so it’s likely they are used here, though they may be wooden nails or pegs.

Here is my interpretation of the fourteenth century toolchest:

My New Older Japanese Toolchest

I ran a 6-foot 1×8 and a 6-foot 1×12 through the planer to shave it down to a half-inch thick. I cut the bottom, lid, and two ends from the wide wood. I cut the sides and battens from the “narrow” wood, ripping the 7.25″ width into 2″ battens. Then, I nailed it all together.

My New Older Japanese Toolchest, Opened

I deadened the nails for the lid, so it should hold together pretty well. The whole thing is 29 inches long, which was about the biggest chest I could make from the two boards with which I started.

What did I learn? My chest isn’t long enough, and it’s possibly too deep. The proportions just don’t look right. My battens should be made from thicker wood, and should be both narrower and closer to the ends of the lid. Because I used thinner wood, this chest is a lot lighter than a previous attempt. Very little wood is wasted, unless you count the one third of the lumber that got turned into shavings.

bookmark_borderSecond Kanmuri Box

Back in October, I was idly searching eBay for Japanese antiques, and I found a kanmuri for sale at a very reasonable price. So, I bought it. This one is not as old or as nice as my other one, but it was less expensive and is in better shape. I won’t be as afraid to wear it or lend it to others. However, it should still have a better storage container than the corrugated cardboard box in which it was shipped to me.

I made two separate boxes to hold the parts of the first kanmuri. This was partially because of the shape of the tail, and because the body of the first kanmuri does not break down into parts. This second one comes apart much better, so I could build a single flat box to hold the parts.

Second Kanmuri-bako, closed

This kanmuri-bako is a simple rectangular, lidded box. The top and bottom are thin birch-faced plywood, and the edges are maple scants. I put a couple of coats of shellac on the outside for protection, but I left the inside unfinished so that the wood can absorb and release moisture as needed.

Second Kanmuri-bako, open

Inside, there is enough room that the pieces of the kanmuri can be individually wrapped to protect them from rubbing. There is actually enough room inside that I am able to store some other formal accessories in there to keep everything together. I can fit a shaku in the bottom, my sekitai, and my hirao. There’s probably enough room to add my gyotai if I ever need to.

Second Kanmuri

Because I just realized that I never posted to my blog about the first kanmuri, here is a picture of the assembled second kanmuri. the tail removes easily. When you remove the horizontal pin, from the hat part, the upright tube can also be removed.

bookmark_borderBeaded Fancy Braid

The braid I used for Fancy Square Braid and Another Fancy Braid has these nice compressed inner threads, and it struck me that you could make those inner threads beaded, and the beads would be nicely couched in the braid. I had some “magatama” beads in my stash from the swag bag of the AKS conference in 2017, so I decided to try it.

Fancy Braid with Beads completed 2021.11.08

I really like how it came out. There are a couple of “errors” in it, but I mostly recovered from them quickly so the overall braid was not disrupted. The magenta inner core on each bead makes a nice counterpoint to the different colors of blue thread I used for the other strands. The beads are strung on “S-Lon” beading cord, were kind of a challenge to get them well seated in their stitches, but I was able to work out a method eventually. The “magatama” beads have a teardrop shape, and are only on every other side stitch, which made it somewhat easier.

bookmark_borderAnother Fancy Braid

I was going to participate in a zoom conference with a bunch of braiders, but I realized that I did not have a braid set up to work on during the call. so, I measured out the silk, wound the tama, and worked on the braid. Then, I had another Zoom, and that gave me enough time to finish the braid.

It’s basically the same braid as the previous one, but the core and outer colors are reversed.

bookmark_borderArtisanal Brushwork Five

This is the second of a pair of recent replications of images from the Nanajuichiban Shokunin Uta-awase emaki, a medieval Japanese scroll that depicts an imaginary poetry competition between artisans and artists of various types.

Nanjuichiban Taiko Shokunin 01

This emaki (illustrated scroll) depicts a poetry competition (uta-awase) among people of various occupations. The competition has 71 rounds, and 142 different kinds of craftspeople (shokunin) are depicted, each with their own poem. This image depicts a musician playing a small drum called a “ko-tzuzumi”, The heads of the drum are tensioned with rope. As she is depicted with a walking stick and zori sandals, she is most likely an itinerant musician.

Nanjuichiban Taiko Shokunin 02

I’m happier with the second copy, though realistic depictis of the drum appear to be somewhat beyond me. I’m intrigued by the thing where both this lady and the biwa player thread the walking stick through the straps of their sandals.

[Ishiyama‘s Yamato-e page has been updated to include all the paintings to date.]

bookmark_borderArtisanal Brushwork Four

This is the first of a pair of recent replications of images from the Nanajuichiban Shokunin Uta-awase emaki, a medieval Japanese scroll that depicts an imaginary poetry competition between artisans and artists of various types.

Nanjuichiban Biwa Shokunin 01

This emaki (illustrated scroll) depicts a poetry competition (uta-awase) among people of various occupations. The competition has 71 rounds, and 142 different kinds of craftspeople (shokunin) are depicted, each with their own poem. This image depicts a musician playing a stringed instrument called a “Biwa”, the strings are plucked with a fan-shaped plectrum. As he is depicted with a walking stick and geta sandals, he is most likely an itinerant musician.

Nanjuichiban Biwa Shokunin 02

You can see that I did a little bit of playing with color and composition, particularly the arrangement of the musician’s accoutrement. The first one is most true to the original scroll, but I like the way the green coloring came out on the second copy.

bookmark_borderHere’s That Pelican Brushwork

Here we go with that first pelican image I was talking about last week. I did four copies of this one. The first one is quite large, occupying most of a sheet of 9″x12″ paper.

Pelican 01 01

The others are smaller, to leave more room on the page for writing.

Pelican 01 03
Pelican 01 04

This last one I rotated a bit to make it occupy even less of the page.

Pelican 01 02

Traced from “Pelikan” by Christoph Schaarschmidt (2021). This photo was one of the top 50 photos in the CEWE photo awards competition of 2021. I saw this photograph of a pelican, and just thought it would make a good writ scroll or other recognition of service. The dignity of this noble bird shows through, as does the dignity of those who perform service in the society. I traced the photo and colored it in the “tsukuri-e” (built up paint) style.

bookmark_borderMore Pelican Brushwork

I just realized that I never posted about the first set of pelican brushwork, but here is the second set of pelican images. The story here is that the “Order of the Pelican” is the SCA peerage order, much like a Knighthood is for fighting, but for service to the society. I saw a terrific photograph of a pelican in a page about “best wildlife photographs of 2021”, and I realized that the image would make a great Yamato-e scroll blank. Maybe not for a peerage, but maybe for a “writ”, an invitation to consider entry into the order. I thought that image came out OK, but I hunted down another image because I wanted one in flight …and here it is!

Pelican 02 01
Pelican 02 02
Pelican 02 03

My paintings are derived from a photograph posted to Awesome Sasquatch in 2013 by Ken Chan. All credit, any vibrancy and splendor in my image is entirely based on his image.