Making Shoji.

"A Japanese craftsman's common saying is, 'Technique is not taught, one has to steal it.'" - Toshio Odate in Making Shoji

The last issue of Popular Woodworking put into my hands an interview with Toshio Odate. A wonderful and thoughtful craftsman and one of the few worthy of the overused term "master." The article didn't truly introduce me to the man. I was aware of him and his work. I think the serial story the lost Woodwork Magazine ran of Odate and the Mighty Oak he transformed into a massive slab table is one of my enduring favorites.

The interview spurred me to pick up a copy of Odate's book "Making Shoji"

Shoji are the Japanese sliding doors and screens covered in rice paper. The work that goes into them is delicate and exacting, just my kind of thing. Naturally I am enamored of the Transom, the geometric pattered flowers suspended in the center of a frame.

And the instructions for making rice glue are something I may have to experiment with.

A room with shoji borrowed from Wikipedia. 
The book is well done. Odate explains the process clearly and with a concise style I wish I had. The work is interspaced with short sections that tell a story or memory from the days of his apprenticeship in Japan. These are the gems that make this work so excellent.

There is a pervasive reverence for the tools

, the wood, and the process of making. There is a deep love for the craft and a life that's circumscribed by it. There is a joy in passing on the knowledge and a lament for the days of apprenticeship that have since past.

I wish I could write a book just like this one.

I am not abandoning what I know and diving into Japanese woodworking and tools. Last time I used a Dozuki was at the H.O. Studley exhibit, sizing a board for the vitrine. I handed the saw back to Don when I was done and loudly reconfirmed my love of the western style saws.

I'm not even thinking about making shoji, (yet) I just very much enjoyed the book and the experience.

Ratione et Passionis.


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