Kobako 2

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Project by madburg posted 05-31-2020 06:38 AM 462 views 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Following on from my last two projects this is another box used as part of Japanese Kōdō - the incense ceremony. It is for storing the small packets of incense used in the ceremony.

It appears to be three boxes fused together, and is made from Woody Pear, Maple, and walnut, with veneered ‘lids’ on three levels, and rock maple stringing. Joints are mitered with laminated veneer splines.

I’ve experimented with the use of eggshell on one of the lids, and gold leaf on the others.

The eggshell, inside up, was stuck onto wet polyurethane and positioned using tweezers and then a pin in the end of a piece of dowel for fine ‘tuning’. In some cases, the pin was also used to crack the small bits of shell into even smaller pieces once it was in the polyurethane You have to remove the internal membrane of the eggshell by soaking in warm water and peeling it off,and then let it dry before breaking it up and using it.

For the lids with the gold leaf designs, I first finished them with several coats of polyurethane to get a solid flat finished surface. Masking tape was then used to produce the design. Gold size was applied to the unmasked parts of the lids and the gold leaf was stuck on. Unfortunately, I did not achieve the crisp edges to the gold leaf that I wanted.

With the eggshell and gold leaf applied many more coats of polyurethane were applied to build up a surface that covered the eggshell and gold leaf. It was then sanded flat with wet and dry paper 800-2000 and then polished with a polishing compound. See Kobako 1 my last project, for more on this.

I really like the eggshell idea and will look to use it again. The use of slightly different sized ‘bits’ for the different parts of the mosaic worked well. Perhaps mixing the inside white of the shell, with the brown of the outside, or even using duck egg shell are other possibilities. But I need to do a bit more research on applying the gold leaf, while it looks OK I really wanted nice crisp edges.

If you’ve not already seen them, then out Kobako 1 and Flight of Fright in my Projects, are two more small boxes with a Japanese influence.

Thanks as ever for looking.

-- Madburg WA

7 comments so far

View recycle1943's profile


4498 posts in 2397 days

#1 posted 05-31-2020 10:47 AM

very interesting and obviously well executed -

-- 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 Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5407 posts in 1357 days

#2 posted 05-31-2020 12:34 PM

Interesting use of eggshell, and now you’ve got me pondering… with two eggs every morning for breakfast, I could have a lot of materials pretty quickly.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View shipwright's profile


8559 posts in 3573 days

#3 posted 05-31-2020 02:14 PM

Thanks for the glimpse of the ancient culture and ceremonies as well of course as your superb recreations of their icons.
You do nice work Martin.

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

View splintergroup's profile


3792 posts in 1997 days

#4 posted 05-31-2020 03:07 PM

Excellent work Martin! Great multi-media talent.

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile (online now)


1662 posts in 322 days

#5 posted 05-31-2020 05:09 PM

I didnt think it possible to upstage the last box you posted, but here we are. This one is just killer cool.

-- Wildwood by Brian Johns: Because cheese isnt a healthy source of cheese, I will use grated cucumber to top off this raw food vegan pizza.

View pottz's profile


9885 posts in 1759 days

#6 posted 05-31-2020 06:29 PM

beautiful box love the design pretty crazy.first time ive seen someone use egg shell this way,very unique.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View madburg's profile


274 posts in 1618 days

#7 posted 06-01-2020 12:14 AM

Thanks to you all for your comments. I’m enjoying my Japanese period – as I think you can tell. The whole range of Japanese boxes – bako has given me lots of inspiration. And they are small so don’t take up much room, and are done quite quickly! I love the typical Japanese lacquered boxes, but they are usually totally covered with black or red lacquer or often gold leaf/dust, so the natural beauty of the wood grain is almost never seen. I’m trying out some of their decorative; egg shell -radan, makie, gold dust and leaf techniques, but allowing the wood still to be seen. There’s a couple more kodansu small chests, in the pipe line, which will be covered with mini parquetry, and makie ‘pictures’. Watch this space!

-- Madburg WA

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