Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Model Carpenter II

I'm always researching stuff relating to woodwork, architecture, and furniture, among other topics. Sometimes I stumble across pages on the web, or in books, that leave me more than a bit speechless with amazement. Today I wanted to share one of those discoveries with readers here.

In a past post called 'A Model Carpenter', I showed carpentry models made to study various roofing layout challenges. Another sort of model-making is that of scaled replicas/representation of famous (or not so famous, perhaps) full scale structures. Some of these models can be virtually as elaborate as the full size ones. Case in point, this piece of mobile sculpture, called a ya-tai:


That parade float may be small, but it is not the model in question. I introduce to you now the mini-yatai:


Ya-tai (屋台), as mentioned, are a sub-type of parade vehicle or float used in Japanese Shrine Festivals, and the above model is 1/12 scale, taking 3 years to complete (possibly about the same length of time as the full size unit takes to construct).

It may not look like much to some observers from afar, but when you start seeing pictures like this next one, you know without a doubt that the artisan isn't fooling around:


All of those pieces are separate bits put together to form that one corner bracket complex, and though the joinery is slightly simplified from the full size work, I find this very impressive all the same. How does he do that?! With little knives, fine saws, specialized jigs, and a lot of dedication, that's how.

All those little pieces would have to be made in large quantity for such a project - take a gander:


And this artist is not, as so many seem to do, making just a rough facsimile, but is building an accurately made scale structure - down to the fine hairs:


Note the little go/no go gauging block on the right.

Here's a picture, mid-way through the build:


A little further along:


If it wasn't for the background and the metal nuts in the scene, it could pass for a full scale piece.

All that carving you see is accomplished with a dremel style drill and lots of little gouges. Pretty cleanly done, I'd say, considering the piece below is about 1" tall:


The artisan has kindly allowed a window into his world by means of a build thread. click on the following link and follow along by clicking the blue text usually at the bottom of each page and marked 2ヘ, 3ヘ, 4ヘ, 5ヘ, etc (8 pages in total):

Suehiro Mini-Yatai.

One thing I admire about that artisan's work is the diversity of skills required to complete it. Fine woodworking, fine sheet metal fabrication, even fine needlework. It seems almost un-Japanese to be highly skilled at more than one thing. My swordsmithing teacher might well disapprove! Stereotypes do need to be smashed once in a while.

I hope readers here will enjoy that walk through, and be every bit as astounded as I am. It goes to show that one can create works of art and pieces of high technical difficulty in wood while using just a small amount of material and working on a kitchen table with a few simple hand tools.

And oh yes, the impatient need not apply! :^)

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