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Kotsuzumi (Japanese Drum)

Michael Scarborough in collaboration with Harvey Fein

2013    Size   H: 6.5 in  W: 6.5 in  D: 8.5 in    Weight: 1 lb

Available for Purchase

Since becoming interested in wood art a few years ago, I have been fascinated by the way Harvey Fein uses both sides of his brain equally. Such a combination of pure art and mechanical genius is almost frightening to behold! Imagine my joy when I discovered that his studio is a mere four subway stops from my own. At our first meeting, he handed me a piece of cherry fresh off his lathe that was both pentagonal and hourglass in form saying, "I can tell by the gleam in your eye that you know exactly what you want to do with this. Go have fun!" I did. The finished piece is my interpretation of a Kotsuzumi, a small drum used in performances of Japanese Noh drama. The surface is my interpretation of the ancient Japanese Wakasa nuri decorative lacquer technique. As Urushi lacquer is far too toxic, I have created my own formula of finish that is applied and polished in the same manner as, and is indistinguishable from, natural Urushi. I have included gold leaf, gold powder, and several different pigments in the surface. Additional embellishments include parchment, sumi-e ink, and silk cord. This piece was featured in the "Turning Twenty" exhibition at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in 2014.

This is the finished piece on a stand made specifically for it. As do many Japanese artists, I attempt to imbue all of my work with a sense of Wabi sabi; intentional imperfection. Hence, some subtle spots on the parchment drum heads and slight wear on the stand. The kanji reads Shiranami, White Wave, the names of my dad's sailboat and my Japanese art name.

This is the piece as Harvey gave it to me. It was turned as a pentagonal "football", bisected, then glued into the hourglass form.

This particular finish is my re-interpretation of the Japanese lacquer ware Wakasa nuri finish. There are many steps involved in creating the layerd finish and many steps in rubbing it out to a glass like smoothness.


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