The Flight of Fright

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Project by madburg posted 05-03-2020 03:41 AM 754 views 2 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Kodansu – Flight of Fright

Continuing with my Japanese ‘period’ of woodwork, this small chest was inspired by the kodansu – small table cabinets of the 19th century. They were originally used to store items related to the Kōdō ceremony.

Kōdō is the art of appreciating Japanese incense, and involves using incense within a structure of codified conduct. Kōdō includes all aspects of the incense process, from the tools, to activities such the incense-comparing games. Kōdō is counted as one of the three classical Japanese arts of refinement, along with kadō for flower arrangement, and chadō for tea and the tea ceremony. Kodansu were small, highly valued, and highly decorated with the finest lacquer techniques.

Mine is less than an 100mm/4inch cube.


It is made of veneered plywood with solid maple drawers. The veneers are burl walnut and birds-eye maple. The decoration includes a gold sprinkled interior to the chest, the drawers and door, and inlays on the exterior.

The drawers have a sprinkled burl walnut inlay on the front to match the exterior of the chest. The drawer pulls are black zirconia stud earrings.

The shell stringing on the outer sides forms frames for shell inlays. A crouching tiger appears on a gold and silver sprinkled landscape on the top.

The sides have shell feather inlays, with gold sprinkled feathers on the back.

The front door has two makie lacquer cranes in flight.

The shell inlays come from vietnam check them out here The range is amazing and while they may appear expensive, I think they are amazing value compared to buying your own shell and the time taken to cut the pieces out yourself.

These makie cranes are real gold makie stickers purchased on my last trip to Japan, they are usually used for personalising mobile phones. I have just ordered a load of others for another two kodansu. You can check them out here They are highly detailed and relativly easy to apply.

This following picture shows the makie stickers in their ‘raw’ state, before they were applied to the door. In the background is the gold and silver dust in the petri dishes, and the sprinkling ‘pipe’ with the green end in the middle of the picture.

As with my other Japanese boxes it is presented in Japanese Tsutsumi - gift-wrapped style, with a Tomobako case, (not shown) and a Furoshiki black fabric cover, embossed with gold feathers.

I’ve called this Kodansu the ‘Flight of fright’ – as the cranes on the front have been frightening away by the tiger.

Thanks for looking.

Hope you enjoyed it.


-- Madburg WA

14 comments so far

View ronstar's profile


598 posts in 4488 days

#1 posted 05-03-2020 04:36 AM

Awesome detail!

-- Ron, Northern Illinois

View recycle1943's profile


4502 posts in 2400 days

#2 posted 05-03-2020 11:47 AM

WHOA – small but mighty ! !

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View MrLaughingbrook's profile


214 posts in 2745 days

#3 posted 05-03-2020 12:46 PM

Very nice! Thanks for the links. Could you share more about the hinges and clasp? Where did you source those?

-- MrLaughingbrook

View madburg's profile


274 posts in 1620 days

#4 posted 05-03-2020 01:13 PM

Hinges and clasps/catches are from AliExpress. A Chinese online company a bit like eBay. Very cheap and cheerful, but it can take 5 or 6 weeks for delivery. They sell everything and one-offs, unlike AliBaba which requires you to buy in bulk, wholesale. But what you put in the search bar is critical – you need to try different words phrases to find exactly what you want. Try this link …

I use them a lot for all sorts of bits and pieces …....

Happy shopping!

-- Madburg WA

View shipwright's profile


8562 posts in 3575 days

#5 posted 05-03-2020 02:09 PM

An excellent combination of hand made quality of your own with carefully chosen fine decorations from other sources.
We can sometimes get caught up in making every bit ourselves. You have shown that much of the art is in recognizing the “right” elements for your piece from outside sources.
There is a lot to see and a lot to learn here and I commend you for being brave enough to attempt these intricate reproductions of master works of the past.


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

View splintergroup's profile


3798 posts in 2000 days

#6 posted 05-03-2020 02:40 PM

Incredible level of detail!

I really like objects that can be re-examined many times, discovering some new detail not seen before.

Nice work!

View tinnman65's profile


1405 posts in 4191 days

#7 posted 05-03-2020 02:40 PM

Beautiful work, The detail on a box of that size is fantastic.

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

View sras's profile


5493 posts in 3907 days

#8 posted 05-03-2020 03:19 PM

Oh wow! So much in a small volume!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View MrWolfe's profile


900 posts in 901 days

#9 posted 05-03-2020 05:10 PM

Simply beautiful but not at all simple~!
Excellent craftsmanship on display. What a stunning box.

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1114 posts in 3090 days

#10 posted 05-03-2020 05:30 PM

Another excellent outcome. These boxes become more and more absorbing.

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

View Skylark53's profile


2800 posts in 3838 days

#11 posted 05-03-2020 05:45 PM

Gorgeous work. Incredible detail work.

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

View socrbent's profile


1014 posts in 3047 days

#12 posted 05-03-2020 07:08 PM

Some much detail in a small object! Well done.

-- socrbent Ohio

View madburg's profile


274 posts in 1620 days

#13 posted 05-05-2020 12:39 PM

Thanks everyone. Yes Paul – we can do everything ourselves but its good to try bits from else where – saves a bit of time as well!! Cutting out the cavities for the inlays is still quite difficult! I’ve just received some more makie stickers from Japan ready for another two Kodansu. These will be a little larger, but still less than 140mm/5in cubed. I’m trying some different miniature parquetry veneering techniques. One will have star bursts on the sides the other will have diamonds, with the gold makie motifs on top. I’ll post them when done. Thanks again.

-- Madburg WA

View Racheleats's profile


1 post in 67 days

#14 posted 05-06-2020 11:09 AM

What incredibly intricate craftsmanship that’s gone into this Kondansu. Quite exquisite with the shell feathered inlay, the gold sprinkles, the tiger and makie cranes. The patience, time and passion gone into your work is just fantastic! Well done my very talented uncle!

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