Now it’s time to carve the branches in the style of Japanese shishiaibori, where all of the detail is below the original surface of the scales. If you’ll recall, we cut VERY deep lines around the outside of the branches and between the petals of the cherry blossoms. I begin by cutting a steep bevel along the inside edges of the very deep cuts I made at the beginning, using a flat graver.
I continue to add in additional bevel cuts along the edges of the branches with the flat graver
, making them shallower (less steep) as I go up along the surface of the branches. I’m also making deeper cuts in places where there would be lumps and bumps on a real branch. Believe me when I say you need to study real branches to make this convincing. You’ll also notice I’ve added details like knots to complete the illusion. I’ve also used small carbide burs around the big knot, as well.
I complete the illusion by using a small oval punch to place the bark texture, orienting the long axis of the oval along the long axis of the branches. This texture not only looks like bark, but also planishes out any odd graver or bur marks.
That leaves just the flowers. Above, you can see the small bur I’ve used to carve each flower petal into a small bowl. While I’m carving away the waste material, I’m also trying to be careful to leave as smooth a surface as I can with the bur. Petals typically have a smooth texture, so keeping everything neat will pay off in less work when I’m using a punch to smooth the petal surfaces. In the above image, I’ve left one petal uncarved to sow the difference between the flat metal and the bowl shape of the petals.
Above, an unmagnified view of the same.
And, above, I’ve used my standard little round punch to smooth the interior of the petal surfaces in the flower cluster on the left. The flowers on the right have been carved with the carbide bur, but not planished with the round punch, and the difference is pretty obvious. In this image, you can’t really see the punch texture left behind in the left flower cluster, but I’ll be removing even that in the next step with a small abrasive stone.
Above, you can see the little ceramic super stone I’m using to further smooth the flower petals. I’ve finished the two lower petals, so you can see the differences. These little ceramic super stones are really marvelous. This one is held in a 0.5 mm mechanical pencil, and I just feed out a little more as it is used up, just like you would lead in a mechanical pencil. You can purchase these stones here: Mini Super Finishing Stones. I think mine here is 400 grit, and is 0.5 mm. Larger diameters are available, and they are surprisingly strong and durable. Don’t forget to get a mechanical pencil of the appropriate size to hold them (also sold in the same place). By the way, you need to use these with a little stoning lubricant like kerosene or light oil. I haven’t tried water with them, but I’m guessing it would do fine, if rust isn’t an issue.
Above, The flowers and branches are complete, ready to apply a little patina. Next, I’ll be inlaying gold in the flower centers, and a few highlights on the butterfly wings.
Thanks for Looking!