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Shoji screen pattern 2

This is the second of the standard screens I finished about a week ago. This is Tasmanian oak, and it’s the first time I’ve used it. This screen, too, is hand-plane finished, and it’s amazing what water can do.

At the College, we used
bei-hiba (yellow cedar) for the vast majority of our shoji work, and this timber is widely used for shoji in the general market. We always wet the timber after cutting the tenons on the rails and mortices on the stiles to raise the grain and remove any machining marks. Once these pieces had dried, we then did our final planing before assembly. With a sharp plane, this left a beautiful glistening appearance on the timber.

Initial planing of the Tassie oak left a reasonably good surface, but it needed to be better as a final finish. So after doing all the tenoning and mortising work, I wiped a liberal amount of water on the wood, and left it to dry thoroughly. Naturally, the water had left the wood with a very furry surface. A couple of swipes with my finishing plane, and the surfaces were like glass. When I held them up to the sunlight, it was like looking along a mirror. No need for sandpaper on these.

(I’m still trying to sort out the lighting settings on the digital camera, so the shoji paper appears to have a slightly red tinge - I’m certainly not a photographer. The paper is, of course, white.)


We’ll be heading off to Japan to have a look at the national tategu competition and exhibition. This year it’s being held in Gifu Prefecture, and while entry numbers could possibly be down from previous years because of the disaster in March, I’ve no doubt there’ll be some absolutely amazing work on display. My HANABI art piece had roughly 10-12,000 pieces, but some of the work on display in previous years had more than 80,000 pieces, and I’m sure these will be matched this year. Totally mind-boggling. I’ll post some photos here in the blog.

Shoji screen

This is the first of my standard design shoji screens. This is a fuki-yose design, and it stands 1400 mm tall. Each of the panels is 460 mm wide. I intend to make up another three or four screens of different designs, and have a collection of standard shoji screens at a set price that can be ordered through the website. These will be available in two, three and four panels. The two panel screens (ni-ren screens) will have an interesting feature at the front for holding small vases, photo frames or any other small object.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll set up a separate area of the website for sales. Here I’ll include much more detail about the screens, prices for each variation, and any other necessary information. This section will be in both English and Japanese

At this stage, the standard shoji screens will be kauri frame and Huon pine kumiko. The screen in the photo below has no finish applied. This is mainly the case for shoji in Japan. The frames are finished with a very, VERY sharp Japanese hand-plane. This gives a natural sheen to the timber without the “plastic” feel of a varnish finish. No sandpaper was used on the frame whatsoever, because while it may result in a smooth surface, it dulls the surface. Mind you, the hand-plane I use makes the surface very smooth, so the hand-planed finish will be standard.

More information will follow as I start to finalise minor details.


Cutting the mitsu-kude (三つ組手)

I’m placing the last couple of coats of finish on the latest art piece, but because it’s been raining here quite heavily, the finish is taking longer than normal to dry. Once it’s finished I’ll add it to the Gallery.

I’ve started the jigumi for a couple of other pieces, so I’ll give a brief rundown on how I cut the mitsu-kude (三つ組手) for this. Kumiko dimensions are 1.6 x 10 mm, and the pitch is 35 mm.

There are two different types of kumiko cuts for the mitsu-kude (technically there are three different types, but most only use two, especially when cutting the joints by hand). These two diagrams show the joint in detail.

three-way joint 01 three-way joint 02

I place a suitable number of kumiko in my jig, and for the first type of cut, I cut at each interval mark at 30° down to two-thirds of the kumiko thickness. (The photo shows the cuts at varying angles of slope, but this is because of the camera lens - all cuts are perpendicular.)

I then cut the other edge of the joint.

Without removing the waste, I take the kumiko out and place at the other end of my jig where the 30° angle is in the opposite direction, and again cut along the interval marks down to two-thirds the thickness.

After making all the cuts, I then remove the waste.

I place these kumiko to one side, and secure the next lot of kumiko in the jig for the second type of cut. I cut down one-third of the kumiko thickness …

… then flip the kumiko over, and cut down one-third on the other side.

If these cuts don’t line up perfectly, these kumiko have to go in the bin because they’re unusable. Fortunately, mine do.
It’s now the moment of truth, and time to assemble the jigumi. The next photos show the general sequence I use.

I use a dab of normal PVA glue for the kumiko, so after the glue has properly dried, I’ll trim the jigumi in preparation for attaching the tsukeko. Once that’s done, the fun part starts with the patterns.