Dotti Kogei - ドティ工芸

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Project by madburg posted 08-07-2019 02:35 AM 621 views 5 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So, we’ve got to the first of the ’boxes’ – Dotti Kogei, that I entered in the Box Category of this year’s 2019 Western Australia Out Of The Woods competition.

This box, or is at a chest of drawers, was inspired by Japanese woodworker Suda Kenji. He has the status of a ‘Living National Treasure’ – Holder of an Important Intangible Cultural Property, Moku-kogei (Fine Woodwork). He is an exceptional ‘Fine Woodworker’ with his own gallery and studio in the small town of Ganura-cho, in the Gunma Prefecture of Japan. Check it out here. You will quickly see where I got my inspiration from…… I had the privilege of meeting Suda san and visiting his gallery and workshop in May 2019 – a truly memorable experience.

Suda-san describes his work as kogei - art crafts, though there is no real translation. Kogei is a uniquely Japanese term that brings together a whole range of western concepts that embrace traditional woodwork, creativity, art, craft, and artistic expression. The word is used to categories items which though they have a function, are intrinsically ‘beautiful things’, which goes well beyond their utility value. You will see this in all Suda-sans boxes – traditional western style hinged lids are absent in his work.

My Kogie box is presented in a typical Japanese Tsutsumi, gift wrapped fashion. It is offered in a paulownia (kiri) wooden outer storage box, called a Tomobako, or Kiribako.

The engraved wooden panel on the top, written in Japanese Kanji characters, has the title of the contents, my name, together with where and when it was made.

Dotti Kogei ドティ工芸
Kogei : 工芸
Box / Small chest of drawers : 箱/小引き出し
Made by : 製作者
Martin Burgoyne : マーティン・ブゴイン
Jarrahdale WA : ジャラデール 市 西オーストラリア州
September 2018 to March 2019 : 自2018年9月 至 2019年3 月

As well as its outer Tamobako, my kogei box is also gift wrapped to add more ‘suspense’ and mystery to what lies inside. A traditional Furoshiki fabric square, sewn by my wife, is used for the ‘gift’ wrapping.

The Tamobako and Furoshiki cover are both tied with traditional Japanese Sanada Himo cotton tapes.

So, to the actual ‘box’. It sits on a decorative tray made from Rosewood and walnut, with inlays of lace wood, together with shell and opal dots, a theme that goes across all elements of the box. The ‘box’ is in fact two small chests of drawers that can be locked together by traditional Japanese spring locks. Once unlocked the two chests of drawers can be separated, turned around and placed back on the tray so that the drawers are accessible.

They can also be taken off the tray so that it can be used separately, or as a place for the contents of drawers.

The two chests of drawers have book matched burr elm veneers with highlights of rosewood and lace wood. A black banding sprinkled with gold dust, and with inlays of shell and opal dots surrounds the two chests of drawers. The inside is veneered with maple.

The five internal drawers are made of lime and have gold dust sprinkled interiors – a change from my usual goat suede. They continue the black banding theme of the outside of the chests, with shell, opal and gold dust inlays on their fronts.

The drawer knobs are made of opal cabochons mounted in sliver claw settings – they are actually stud earrings! Thedrawers are jointed using tiny biscuits, unlike Suda-sans secret mitered dovetails….......

As I often do in my work, there is a separate ‘hidden’ box inside. This small box, ‘hidden’ at the back of the largest drawer, matches the main chests, with similar book matched burr elm veneers, lace wood bandings and a black banding with gold dust highlights and shell and opal dots. It is lined with blue goat skin suede, to match the outer Furoshiki fabric.

In typical Japanese woodworking fashion, there are no visible joints. A feature used in western woodwork, often to demonstrate our prowess as craftsmen, but frowned upon in Japanese woodwork!!

I’m in my Japanese period a the moment and have moved away from the marquetry that I so enjoyed doing in past years. A comment in Suda-sans book about using the natural beauty of the wood, rather too much vulgar decoration made me re-think as well ….....

Why Dotti Kogei?

Its name is derived from the shell and opal ‘dots’ which bring the different elements of this kogei box together, and of course my wife’s first name is Dorothy!

If you are wondering, yes it came first in the Box category in this years Western Australia Wood Show. Check it out here. My usual rival in the Box category knocked me down to 2nd place the last two years, which prompted me to raise my game – so thanks DT.

I hope you enjoyed looking at it, as much as I enjoyed making it. Can’t wait to start the next Japanese style ‘box’!!

-- Madburg WA

14 comments so far

View sras's profile


5155 posts in 3610 days

#1 posted 08-07-2019 03:22 AM

Wow! What an accomplishment! Stunning!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View MrWolfe's profile


301 posts in 604 days

#2 posted 08-07-2019 03:58 AM

Stunning and exsquisite!!!
Congratulations on the much deserved 1st place.

View shipwright's profile


8357 posts in 3279 days

#3 posted 08-07-2019 06:02 AM

Everything I was expecting and more Martin.
Absolutely exquisite, I’ll be coming back for more looks … and then more.

Bravo, bravo, bravo!

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View therealSteveN's profile


3629 posts in 1055 days

#4 posted 08-07-2019 07:34 AM

Sweet box. If you don’t teach, you should.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1094 posts in 2793 days

#5 posted 08-07-2019 08:14 AM

Breathtaking is the only way to describe this piece Martin. It really captures the ethos of Suda’s approach and can only be admired for the skill and workmanship on display.
I assume a Merlot celebration accompanied First Place!!


-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

4118 posts in 1063 days

#6 posted 08-07-2019 10:35 AM

Stunning indeed, Martin. Beautiful work, and surprises within surprises. Well-deserved first place!

-- Dave - Minneapolis

View Ivan's profile


14939 posts in 3348 days

#7 posted 08-07-2019 11:08 AM

Beautiful details on those boxes!

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Peteybadboy's profile


1016 posts in 2430 days

#8 posted 08-07-2019 11:49 AM

You do incredible work! thanks for posting.

-- Petey

View CampD's profile


1789 posts in 3967 days

#9 posted 08-07-2019 02:09 PM

Ok, I’ll join in….WOW! those are incredible.

-- Doug...

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3528 posts in 3590 days

#10 posted 08-07-2019 06:57 PM

Over the top beautiful! WOW!

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View leafherder's profile


1836 posts in 2433 days

#11 posted 08-07-2019 09:36 PM

Magnificent! Can’t wait to see how you top this next year. Thanks for posting and for showing the world that woodworking is truly a Fine Art.

-- Leafherder

View Mike_in_STL's profile


955 posts in 1015 days

#12 posted 08-07-2019 10:51 PM

Arigatou gozaimasu! This is gorgeous. I especially like how you decided to use opal earrings as knobs. That was a brilliant move.

-- Sawdust makes me whole --Mike in STL

View AJ1104's profile


824 posts in 2140 days

#13 posted 08-08-2019 12:29 AM

Great work of art and a great narrative. Congrats

-- AJ

View tomd's profile


2210 posts in 4251 days

#14 posted 08-08-2019 01:57 AM

Beautiful box, terrific workmanship, love it.

-- Tom D

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