Friday, September 19, 2014

Handmade Byoubu

屏風 Byoubu is another common product made by Hyousoushi. My Sensei called me only a Hyougushi up to this point, but if I can learn to make other products as nicely as the scrolls, then I hope that I can be an overall Hyousoushi.

In Japan, you can purchase the Kamachi (inner frame) that is already premanufactured. But here I have to make all the measurements and cuts myself. I then followed the directions that my Sensei taught to me. I put the final paper on over a year ago, but had not finished the wood trim.

I finally decided on staining the wood cherry, and did that a couple of months back. Finally tonight I made the cuts and finished the framing.

If you would like to purchase this or would like one handmade for yourself in a custom style, please let me know at

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Custom Designed Scroll for Bonsai Exhibition

 Bonsai Artist friends! Do one of these scrolls look familiar? A bonsai artist came to me and asked for help to develop his idea to display his bonsai. He wanted a distant mountain or cliff in a painting to use with his Rocky Mountain Juniper. So I scoured for photos of actual scenes in the Rocky Mountains. I knew his tree would be placed on the left, because of its natural flow to the right. In Japanese this is 左勝って右流れ (hidari Katte, Migi Nagare). So I was looking specifically for a cliff or mountain that continued and complimented the flow to the right to coincide with the movement of the bonsai. It also clued me off to where the Hanko or artist stamp should be placed. I finally found a photo of a locale in New Mexico, and checked if this would be correct geographically for a Rocky Mountain Juniper, and aha, I found it.

This was then sent to Mariusz Szmerdt to make the painting. I know his skills as a Sumi artist, and he could have made every crack and crag with such precision and detail, but that would have detracted from the display because a detailed painting competes with the bonsai in many cases. I wanted this wallscroll to be a truly supporting actor role in the display. The first two iterations were good, but I thought that they might be too small, to work with this particular tree. I asked him to do one last version slightly larger with a little more detail. He then shipped the final three versions.

I also requested that the bonsai artist provide me with detailed information on the dimensions of the display space and the colors of the backgrounds that would be used. This was vital for me to try and get the size of the scrolls just right and select appropriate cloth colors/patterns that would sit well in the background.

The most worrisome thing about this is that normally, I get a painting from this artist in about 2 weeks....but three weeks had passed away and still no painting. I called the USPS, the NY customs branch and finally had to call the Regional USPS office in order to get this painting here. It took me over four hours of time negotiating with the USPS to get the painting here on time. As soon as it came, I started making the scrolls.

I made the scrolls based upon the formality of the species and styles of the bonsai, as well as how a specific style would bring out the feel of each painting. The less detailed and smaller version painting, I decided to go with a less formal scroll style called Maru Hyougu. I used a solid Benberugu cloth that is rust sand color, with a gold on white Ichimonji. I used a Light Gold Hanging string and a rosewood jikusaki. For the more detailed slightly larger cliff, I decided to put it in a three step style scroll. There was a slight green in the Ichimonji, with a brown on glold large arabesque design. The Chuumawashi is a Shiha cloth with a small arabesque to offset the larger design in the Ichimonji. The Ten/Chi is a Benberugu cloth with a dry reed/khaki color. It was finished with a light gold hanging string and a Chanuri (Brown Lacquer) jikusaki.

Dimensions of the first scroll as follows:

Name in Kanji Name in English Size in Bun Size in Inches
Ten 107 12.76
上一文字 Ue Ichimonji 14 1.67
紙本の幅さ Artwork Width 60 7.16
紙本の長さ Artwork Length 168.5 20.10
Pillars 3.5 0.42
下一文字 Shita Ichimonji 8 0.95
Chi 55 6.56
掛け軸の幅さ Scroll Width 67 7.99
掛け軸の長さ Scroll Length 352.5 42.05

Dimensions of the Second Scroll as follows:

Name in Kanji Name in English Size in Bun Size in Inches
Ten 86 10.26
上中廻し Ue Chuumawashi 30 3.58
上一文字 Ue Ichimonji 11 1.31
紙本の幅さ Artwork Width 76 9.07
紙本の長さ Artwork Length 182 21.71
Pillars 5 0.60
下一文字 Shita Ichimonji 7 0.84
下中廻し Shita Chuumawashi 20 2.39
Chi 45 5.37
掛け軸の幅さ Scroll Width 86 10.26
掛け軸の長さ Scroll Length 370 44.14

Now do you know where you have seen this scroll?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Scroll for Wedding

The Haiku on this scroll is the original Japanese of the customer in the Midwest. I was very impressed with the lengths he went to in order to create something original for his then fiancée and now wife. These are
pictures from the wedding reception. The writing is in Kaisho style, and the scroll has been placed
in a formal alcove with a bouquet, surrounded by origami cranes.

May this man ever be blessed in his love.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Scrollmaking Methods & Timetable

I have often been asked by many people, "How long before I get my scroll?" The reply I give is depends. Do you want a machine made production line scroll, like those pictured at the left...Or do you want a carefully thought and planned handmade scroll. The best scrolls made by hand spend years curing on the drying board.

Several advantages to handmade scrolls are the fact that with the new production line techniques, the skills of restoration have not caught up. If you want a museum grade work, that can be restored without damage in the future, a kakejiku, or wallscroll needs to be made by hand.

I  make all of my wallscrolls and byoubu by hand. It allows for some creative processes that just can not be accomplished with a machine made wallscroll. The funniest thing, is when a bonsai artist or Martial Artist tells me I am not fast enough and they need to go with another option. I just state, can you have a finished bonsai  or black belt in a day, week or month? It is the same with my work, time is the indicator of my quality.