Netsuke - Ape Clutching a Gourd

Very excited that my wood cutting tools have arrived. 1 Power Grip Japanese Cutting Tool Set, 1 Power Grip Japanese Cutting Tool 1.5mm U (I realise this is already in the set but I guess it will be handy to have a spare), 1 Power Grip Japanese Cutting Tool 1.5mm V, 1 Power Grip Japanese Cutting Tool: 3mm U and 1 100x150mm pack of Japanese Side Grain Woodblocks.

The ape and standing heron are guinea pigs for exploring my new cutting tools. They carve beautifully. I'm amazed at how difficult I have been making it for myself by carving with cheap tools on cheap wood. It has been a struggle and given me painful elbows but today this feels like cutting through butter. I wonder how long this honeymoon period will last. In the excitement I have cut myself twice already, a warning to slow down and my baren has just split. I'm carving with the 7mm Hangito, 6mm large U (Komasuki) & 6mm large V (sanhakito). The technique of the Hangito is similar to my experience of cutting rubber stamps with a sharp scalpel. A technique I learnt a while back from printer maker extrordinaire Stephen Fowler.


Ape with Gourd printed on Somerset Satin 300gms


To master the technique of Japanese woodblock printing takes years and years and as a beginner I feel completely out of my depth and there are many frustrations but I recently came across this quote and it helped me feel a little lighter about it!

The zen priest Shunryu Suzuki often told his students that it is not difficult to attain enlightenment, the difficulty remains in retaining the mind of a beginner. He told them "There are many possibilities, but in the expert there are few" From Awakening the Spine by Vanda Scaravelli