Carving out 7 minutes of Time

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DEER - A short film 

Recently I made a print of a deer. In my last post I showed a brief glimpse of the process through images and talked about the inspiration behind the print. What I forgot to mention was that before I started carving the woodblock, I set up my tripod and mobile phone, and recorded the process.  

So here's a short film (speeded up into 7 mins) following the process of carving the woodblock from start to finish accompanied by music and a poem by John Drinkwater.

I am aware that we are bombarded with SO much information these days and 7 minutes of carving a piece of wood may just be too painfully long to endure, but I like to think it might be worth ‘carving' out a little piece of time to watch this film for seven moments of tranquility.

I hope you enjoy it. 

Netsuke Deer - Delicate and Far

'We are not transparent to ourselves.  We have intuitions, suspicions, hunches, vague musings and strangely mixed emotions…Then, from time to time, we encounter works of art that seem to latch on to something we have felt but never recognized clearly before…when we feel a kinship with an object, it is because the values we sense that it carries are clearer in it than they usually are in our minds.' Alain de BottonJohn Armstrong - Art As Therapy

In the basement of Bristol Museum there are drawers of miniature objects in the shape of a buddha, a demon, a god and goddess, a mother with her child, a farmer, a monk, fishermen, buffalo, frogs, horses, rats, fish, monkeys, snails and worms and many more. They lie sleeping in these drawers. These objects are antique Japanese netsuke.  

I make visits to Bristol Museum with my sketchbook and pencil to draw these unusual and beautifully carved objects. When I arrive I’m taken to the basement. The drawers are gently pulled open and the netsuke are woken up. There are at least a two hundred netsuke here. I choose a few netsuke and spend a couple of hours drawing. Then back in my studio I transfer the drawing onto a woodblock, carve the block and then make a print. On my most recent visit I’m drawn to a frog, an ox and a deer. The netsuke animals hold a particular magic for me. 

‘We don’t just like art objects.  We are also, in the case of certain prized examples, a bit like them.  They are the media through which we come to know ourselves, and let others know more of what we are really about.’ Alain de BottonJohn Armstrong - Art As Therapy
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Deer 

SHY in their herding dwell the fallow deer.

They are spirits of wild sense. Nobody near

Comes upon their pastures. There a life they live,

Of sufficient beauty, phantom, fugitive,

Treading as in jungles free leopards do,

Printless as evelight, instant as dew.

The great kine are patient, and home-coming sheep

Know our bidding. The fallow deer keep

Delicate and far their counsels wild,

Never to be folded reconciled

To the spoiling hand as the poor flocks are;

Lightfoot, and swift, and unfamiliar,

These you may not hinder, unconfined

Beautiful flocks of the mind.

 

Poem by John Drinkwater

Deer Netsuke - Miniature Woodblock Print

 Original antique netsuke sketched at Bristol Museum.

Original antique netsuke sketched at Bristol Museum.

"Deer are considered messengers to the gods in Shinto, especially Kasuga Shrine in Nara Prefecture where a white deer had arrived from Kashima Shrine as its divine messenger. It has become a symbol of the city of Nara. Deer in Itsukushima Shrine, located in Miyajima, Hiroshima, are also sacred as divine messengers. In various parts of Northeast Japan, a deer dance called "Shishi-odori" has been traditionally performed as an annual shinto ritual." Wikipedia

act your SHOE SI/E

"Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them” Albert Einstein

Jacquetta brings some fun and quirky type setting to this morning’s letterpress workshop.

With no Z in this alphabet she comes up with another solution. A forward slash hints at the idea of a Z. Simple and effective. Oh the beauty of limitations. 

 Jacquetta making sure type is back to front and and not upside down in this case as type is set straight into the chase. 

Jacquetta making sure type is back to front and and not upside down in this case as type is set straight into the chase. 

not your AGE 

 Jacquetta chooses large caps type for SHOE SIZE & AGE to make her point.

Jacquetta chooses large caps type for SHOE SIZE & AGE to make her point.

Jacquetta’s Motto

"act your SHOE SIZE
not your AGE"
 Jacquetta’s finished motto printed on the adana 8 x 5 printing press. 

Jacquetta’s finished motto printed on the adana 8 x 5 printing press. 

Jacquetta was a fantastic problem solver and quick to learn which shows in her beautifully finished letterpress prints.  


Hamilton Wood’s Type and Printing Museum 

Thanks Jacquetta for sharing this video about Hamilton Wood’s Type and Printing Museum.

Little Book of Letterpress

 And thank you also for this beautiful gift ‘Little Book of Letterpress’ by Charlotte Rivers. 

And thank you also for this beautiful gift ‘Little Book of Letterpress’ by Charlotte Rivers. 

Netsuke Frog - Breaking The Silence

 Mini woodblock print from my sketch of an antique Japanese netsuke frog (unsgd) at Bristol Museum.

Mini woodblock print from my sketch of an antique Japanese netsuke frog (unsgd) at Bristol Museum.

“Breaking the silence 
Of an ancient pond,
A frog jumped into water - 
A deep resonance.
This poem was written by our master on a spring day. He was sitting in his riverside house in Edo, bending his ears to the soft cooing of a pigeon in the quiet rain. There was a mild wind in the air, and one or two petals of cherry blossom were falling gently to the ground. It was the kind of day you often have in late March - so perfect that you want it to last for ever. Now and then in the garden was heard the sound of frogs jumping into the water.”

From Matsuo Bashō - The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches. Translated from the Japanese by Nobuyuki Yuasa.

It has been a little quiet over here at Into The Wood so it’s lovely to be woken by the sound of Bashō’s frog and see this beautiful blossom on my journey home. 

 Close to home and heart. Cherry plum blossoming in late March. 

Close to home and heart. Cherry plum blossoming in late March.