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Yashabushi dye


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Thank you for your reply Doug, ;)

In my opinion, I don't believe that its properties would change from the age. It's only the chemical action from Tannin, and we are frequently adding fresh YASYA into. But, I've heard of those reports that you wrote, from many other senior artists also. More important matter is that, we don't take off those molds. I usually tear them and mix into solution. I can't say this is the right way to do so, or should recommend to, but, there aren't any problems at all. In winter, if I don't use YASHA for 1 or 2 months, it should be almost a solid body. But, adding some waters and mix them, it could be for use without in any trouble. I don't take care of it as you think. :blush:


But, this "Mordant" what you kindly translated, I can't agree with those. ;) Brilliant and light brown color comes from YASHA might be blacken or deep brown. According to my dictionary, "catalyst" is maybe what you mean, and I'm using of those also, but you can put them on your works after dyed them by YASHA, and I think it's not a sensible way to determine your color ranges from the beginning process of dyeing. I'm using pure YASHA solution at all, and I prefer to use a pot made of stainless or enamel at all. :)




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  • 11 months later...
Guest Clive

Just to clarify following an enquiry I've received regarding this thread.. The Yashabushi dye Masatoshi describes is made from the female catkin of an Alder tree (Genus Alnus) .. as Doug has rightly pointed out, there are a number of species..




but most species will make a very similar and acceptable dye... if prepared and used correctly. I find the best time to pick them is late autumn and make the infusion with spring water.


A few other small points I would make is that while nail polish remover is largely acetone it also often contain oils.. so its best to use pure acetone and if you going to use acetic acid to help key the surface before staining.. to immerse the piece for no longer than 15 seconds.




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  • 11 years later...

Hello and thank you to everyone who added precious info to this topic. I'm preparing my first yashadama stain (I got European Alder cones and Japanese Alder cones, I'm making yashadama stain of both separately, I will test them and post the comparison if it's useful) using the method described in Masatoshi's book and I have a question for those who have already used yashadama staining : how long do you let the wood soak in the yashadama dye ? From this topic I infered that the time does not really increase the intensity of the color ;

 does 30 min seems long enough to you ?

At the moment I'm learning to carve on some lime tree, which is quite soft.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi there Capucine and anyone still interested in yashibushi! 

Im actually in the process of doing some Yashibushi staining right now.

I have done it on a boxwood netsuke a few months ago and am now actually using it to stain an alder wood guitar body! I thought alder dye on alder wood could be an interesting project. 

I have a couple of different alder trees around me. I have found one of the trees has smaller cones (im unsure of the species exactly but it is evergreen) the cones are a bit yellower in colour and I found produce a much yellower dye. I have also noticed that cones from the larger of two deciduous trees I have produce more dye. So I guess bigger cones are better. I came to the conclusion through testing that It doesnt really matter how long you immerse the wood, as in 10 hrs or 10mins wont make much difference. The dye is only really deposited on the surface and doesnt soak in much at all. Especially with box wood due to the density. I find 10mins is sufficient to get a good coating.   

I have found that the cones release a kind of resin as well as the dye and when this cools/drys it creates a kind of protective resinous surface. so I found that the polish and luster of the netsuke was greater after yashibushi even if the colour was not much different. (I think Masatoshi talks about this effect...) So I think its a good idea to work with at least warm dye.  

Also because its really only on the surface, whilst its wet its really easy to remove it with your fingers so I suspend the netsuke and make sure I dont touch it at all when its drying. 

I have also found that allowing the netsuke to dry thoroghly then re-dye in the yashibushi and repeat as needed will lead to a darker netsuke.

After first trying a pretty weak solution of yashibushi on this guitar im working on, I doubled the number of alder cones that I was boiling. Ive just made a batch with about 30 cones in it and I reduced it down so that I only have a very small amount of liquid, no more than a centimeter in the bottom of a jar. Its very dark, ive uploaded a photo so you can see what it looks like. 

I hope that helps anyone working with Yashibushi, I couldnt believe my luck when I moved into a house that had 3 alder trees nearby!   


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6 hours ago, Capucine L said:

Hi Daniel,

Thank you for this very thorough answer ! Do you use acetic acid before immersing the pieces in yashabushi dye ?

I did a couple of tests with acetic acid and boxwood and I found it made little difference. I think Acetic acid would make more difference on ivory and similar materials. Though I have read that acetic acid can help the stain to bind, I havent seen any difference in my tests with boxwood.  

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