tsuba class work and homework

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tsuba class work and homework

Postby Chris A » Sat May 13, 2017 4:17 pm

This tsuba was initiated at Ford's Intro class module 2 in March this year; it was the subject of the weeks class showing the process and considerations in designing a tsuba. We were given a strong start with Ford laying out the arrangement of the gingko leaves making suggestions and setting an example.

By the end of the week both front gingko were leaves inlaid and the top one carved and some background carved around the kozuka-ana, then back home to work out the rest for ourselves. :(

Creating a new design of this type seem very like painting, the background being as important as the foreground, everything being in balance and harmony; a different process from trying to copy an good earlier work (utsushi) where all the design is done.

Deciding on the treatment of the gingko leaves (2 front 2 back, Ford suggested possibly make them all different both as an aid to learning and also might make a more interesting design and so I have veined the lower one.

Also suggested to provide more interest, was to add some other smaller inlays, original design had spherical ginkgo seed pods just sketched in as an idea, these in nature are quite large in relation to the leaves after some discussion these were deemed perhaps not right; so once home I researched other options coming up with immature male flowers. Inlaid in copper these seem quite prominent but hopefully when patinated/aged they will be less so.
desgink1a.jpg
sketches for possible layout involving seedpods flowers tec

Ginkgo_biloba_male_flower.jpg
male gingko flower

desgink1.jpg
details of chosen stylised flower

postginkx.jpg
where I'm at

ging.jpg

I don't really know if what I have done so far is any good; I've been looking at it too long; any input would be welcome.

Next it seems important to have some sort of idea of the patinated appearance, so that will be the next job.
'If I see further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants' - Newton
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Re: tsuba class work and homework

Postby Doug Sanders » Mon May 15, 2017 1:23 pm

Hi Chris- I'll take the bait and point out a few things as I've been studying your work over a morning cup of tea.
First off, I think that at around 4 o'clock on your seppa dai, you're curving the line a little too strongly inward. I suspect you're trying to draw the eye into the curve of the lower ginko leaf, but to me it just seems to be the wrong trace of an elipse. Should be an easy correction.

Secondly, I think there's maybe too much going on, and all of it is the same visual weight. The lower leaf is fantastic; its curves echo others and it has a nice graceful drape and line to it. The upper leaf however seems awkward and its stem echoes and reinforces the same vertical line as the 'branch', which in turn seems to compete with the right edge of the tsuba in a weird, crowded way. I think part of the issue stems from your early drawings which all have three leaves making a composition. The fact that the third leaf would get chopped off by the tusba edge and not lend its compositional weight and balance seems to have been overlooked. Also, in all the drawings, the added element- be it fruit, seed or flower plays a supporting role, harmonizing with the leaves but I think what you've created now competes too strongly because of its size.
Is there a way to add the tiniest bit of outward arc to the upper leaf stem?

Add to this the hitsu ana(s) and the background texture and there's just a bit too much seasoning in the stew. :( I think you need to focus on a main, single narrative- perhaps the graceful lower leaf, and its fine engraved lines- and try to find a way to visually- both in terms of texture and compositional weight- push the other elements back.

This is a really ambitious piece!

best hopes for a good outcome-
-Doug
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Re: tsuba class work and homework

Postby Chris A » Tue May 16, 2017 12:39 pm

Doug,
Many thanks for passing a critical eye over my efforts, and for writing some solid suggestions regarding the design side of this project, all of which I am very grateful for.

I agree the outline of the seppa-dai at 4 'o' clock does look wrong; I can't check it's geometry right now as the tsuba is the other way up in the pitch bowl at present. I'm thinking the shape of the seppa dai is pretty much set in stone (corr. metal) and every other element should fit with it, will check it out later.

Agreed, the background too prominent and needs to be put out of focus, I was enjoying the rocky landscaping too much!

I thought the flowers were possibly too big, being a different metal not helping, will attempt to diminish them if I can.

The third leaf and the parallel leaf and stalk in the hands of the Master seemed to work. You are right, an ambitious project for me both technically and aesthetically, Ford threw us novice swimmers into a swirling torrent, if I make to the shore I'll be happy.

Time being of the essence on a course it was imperative to crack on with exercise which I think was 75% practical and 25% design consideration. It does highlight the need for an absolutely resolved design before putting chisel to metal.

gingpatx.jpg
quick paination to get an idea
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Re: tsuba class work and homework

Postby jhobson » Mon May 22, 2017 4:25 pm

Doug Sanders wrote: The lower leaf is fantastic;
-Doug

Yup!
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Re: tsuba class work and homework

Postby Chris A » Tue Jun 13, 2017 11:44 am

jhobson wrote:Yup!

Jack, I know you as a man of few words :hehe: , so appreciate even a very short one!

work done so far on the B-side:

First problem was not aligning the front and back before setting in the pitch, so now have a miss-match.

problem2 is letting the lower leaf interfere with the seppa-dai, I could carve it below the surface level as the top leaf is but haven't the confidence I can pull it off successfully.

problem 3: having carved the leaves I added the the clouds and foreground, this was a 'make it up as you go along' kind of thing and perhaps looks like it.

all said though, I'm fairly happy with my progress; I believe this project has and is raising the bar for my technique and aesthetic understanding.
bside2x.jpg

bsidex.jpg


I work most days on bigger stuff and find it to difficult reference back to the scale and absolute finesse required for this kind of work; all my image references for tsuba are on the computer and though detailed are huge on the screen, the only time I'm really brought into the zone is when handling an actual good tsuba,
that opportunity locally is in an antique shop in York. Picking up even a £600 tsuba brings home with a jolt the reality of what is required.

I am now back reworking the flowers and top leaf on the A-side plus other issues.
'If I see further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants' - Newton
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Re: tsuba class work and homework

Postby Marcus » Thu Jun 22, 2017 7:51 pm

Hi Chris,
One suggestion that I might add to Doug's thoughts regarding the flowers providing a supporting role would be to vary the height of the two forms. From what I can see they occupy the same plane visually above the ground. By dropping one or both back to different levels you provide needed depth in that part of the composition. You may even want to drop the tip of one back into the ground and create some perspective in that way as well. It may help make them more supportive than prominent. I hope that all makes sense. ;)
I think overall it is coming together well.
Thanks for sharing your work and sticking your neck out on the block as it were.... :wacky:
Cheers,
Marcus :biggrin:
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Re: tsuba class work and homework

Postby Chris A » Tue Jun 27, 2017 9:55 am

Marcus,

Thank you for spending time to comment , very much appreciated.

Agreed the two flowers do appear to be stuck on like stickers and I am now in the process of reworking much of the A-side, the flowers are now in their fifth set of 'clothes', setting a thick inlay does give the opportunity for multiple experiments in carving and finish.
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Re: tsuba class work and homework

Postby Chris A » Wed Jul 05, 2017 8:50 pm

july17a.jpg


this is after some refinement hopefully; blurring the background more, and working the upper leaf to match the lower to bring some harmony, also the flowers have been lowered and reworked with a punch, removing the pinecone look.
A few more areas to sort out, then the alchemy of patination.

I have since pickled in 35% nitric acid, which I think was a bit strong? advice would be gratefully received.
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Re: tsuba class work and homework

Postby Doug Sanders » Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:41 pm

Chris-
It's apparent you put in a lot of work on this and didn't give in to first attempts. That's a lesson for all of us! :trophy:
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Re: tsuba class work and homework

Postby Chris A » Sun Jul 09, 2017 12:22 pm

Doug, thank you for the words of encouragement, gratefully received.

I have now finished working on this project, rather than saying the project is finished, because it never is, IF I did it again it would be better and I would learn equally as much the second time round but a new challenge is needed and I will learn from that.

There are parts that I am happy with and some which went awry at the inlay stage, both in general but also especially where the inlay is supposed to merge with the rim, this I messed up early on through lack understanding and care.

Overall I'm happy that I've raised my personal bar; and thanks to Ford for setting a challenging but do-able task, and the early input.
07x.jpg

53x.jpg
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