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Netsuke Boxwood

Artur M

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i just wanted to share some Netsuke i have made.

The first is an older piece i carved.It was the first Netsuke i was satisfied with, it is a Strawberry with a "Fly".

I have tried to apply a yashadama stain (like the one Masatoshi is discribing in Mr. Raymond Bushells book "The Art of NETSUKE CARVING").

I also socked up every Information i could get on the forum.

But it somehow still doesn`t worked out like i`ve planed it.

The Strawberry was in the cold infusion for almost 8 hours.

The Fly for 30 min.

I also finished the Strawberry with linseed oil and the Fly with Rustins Danish oil.

I must say right now i prefer the natural appearance of the polished wood.

But my boxwood seamed to be of inferior quality.

It had gray strokes all over it.

Next time i will plan my carving and material more carefully.

Fly- 3,5x3x1,5cm Boxwood

Strawberry-4,5x2,5x3 cm Boxwood


For how long do you leave your pieces in the infusion?

How do you obtain the very dark brown color?




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Hello Artur,


Thank you for posting images and questions.


I am not sure that the yashadama is used for a dark brown coloration. Perhaps if the infusion is extremely concentrated the color may have a chance at being deeper on the wood. You might try boiling the liquid to evaporate more water. You might also use brief immersion times followed by drying periods that might open the pores again to accept more stain. Soaking any piece of wood for eight hours scares me.


Did you make a test piece from the boxwood, one that is not time consuming to create but has been cut into and smoothed as you would do to the complex pieces? It is wise to create test pieces to learn from so as to not harm the pieces that have taken so long to create.


In years past I boiled the shells of pecans, or black walnuts, to make different dyes or stains. Prior to stain/dye immersion and during the final sanding/smoothing stages I would immerse the boxwood in hot water very briefly to raise the grain as it will do when using a water-based stain/dye. Any unintentional compressions will be raised and can be dealt with as well as the raised grain areas. Unlike Masatoshi, I would boil the shell stain and immerse the finished piece in it for a minute or two, the time being determined by the test piece's results in the same dye done earlier.


Not all boxwoods accept dark stain in a complimentary fashion. The end grain accepts more color and the side of the grain deflects the stain, so with some pieces the light and dark of the stain works against the sculptural qualities of the object being colored.


It is my guess that with the yasha stain and boxwood, the stain serves to even out or to accentuate more gently the color and quality of the wood.


Testing on wood from the same source as the netsuke is always a very good idea to do with what ever you are working with and hoping to use for coloration or as a finish.



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Hallo Janel,


thank you for the advice's.

I tested a few pieces before.....then like you said reboiled my Infusion and tryed to concentrate it by evaporate more water, then tryed again....

But yashadama is indeed not made for coloring wood heavely ....like you also pointed out.

I saw a few pieces in some of my books they offten had a discription saying yashadama and i liked the looks oft it very much so i wanted to have the same looks for my carvings.

I now know more.

Masatoshi uses potassium permanganate for darker coloration i found out.






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