An elephant is one of those animals that every child learns to identify, yet is also an animal that most people rarely see. Consequently, while we are sure what an elephant is, it would be difficult for most people to sketch one with any degree of detail.
It is like the parable of the seven blind men who describe an elephant by running their respective hands over only one part of the animal. We can add a trunk to the front of a large bulky animal and put some big ears on the side of the head and maybe some tusks sticking out the front somewhere, but can we really give the picture any more specific information?
I came face to face with this when carving this piece. I started with the basics, but was soon faced with many questions like how thick and long are the legs relative to the body and how wide the head? Where exactly do the tusks and ears go? How many toes does an elephant have? There are also a large number of bumps and depressions in the skull and around the hips. Nonetheless, thanks to the internet, I was able to find the answers to these questions and make this netsuke sized elephant.
The elephant is carved from a single piece of moose antler and depicts a full grown Asian elephant porting a ceremonial blanket and pannier on its back.
5.5cm L x 4.4 cm H x 3.0 cm D
2.25”L x 1.75”H x 1.25”D
Caterpillars crawl on the underside of a leaf. From the upper side, the leaf looks undisturbed, but when turned over, there is a hustle and bustle of insects stuffing themselves so they can become adults. Are the insects any less perfect than the leaf itself? Does their presence make the overall piece seem less serene? It is all in the eye of the beholder.
In actual fact, the purpose of these pieces is to provide a wish for true gardeners and plant aficionados. Every year, just when the plants are looking their best , along comes some bug or worm or fungus to disrupt the growth of the plants. If only the power of those invertebrates and fungi could be harnessed for good instead of evil. Thus, we return to the true underlying meaning of these pieces: May the tent caterpillars eat the weeds in your garden.
Each of the pieces is carved from a single piece of moose antler. The darker color of the inner antler material results in darker caterpillars crawling on a lighter leaf surface.
This piece started out as a 3D collage, a mix of individual organic shapes, each created in its own right, then amalgamated. However, as I was making the pieces with curves and bumps, I noticed that many of them were familiar. In hindsight, it should have been no surprise that my biological training and interests predisposed me to use shapes familiar to me as models for the abstract shapes. And if one is making abstract amorphous shapes, what better place to look then to the molluscs.
Molluscs, a group of animals having no bones, are basically bags of guts and muscle. They move by hydraulic and muscle motion. A familiar representative is the octopus, whose entire body functions like a bag of water, yet is able to effect the finest level of motor skill. Other examples are the snails, which can crawl along a razorblade edge and not be cut. Squids and cuttlefish are masters of disguise, able to transform the shape and color of individual skin cells. The bivalves, clams, mussels, scallops and oysters, are so well developed that they do not even need a head to function in their environment. Nauteloids, which look like an octopus hiding in a snail shell, were once the dominant life form in the oceans. And then we have the shells produced by these animals, in all their shapes and beauty. Each a mastery of mathematical curves and spirals.
I attempted to blend lifelike mulluscan shapes with abstract shapes to create a tableau providing a unified whole. Each segment was shaped and crafted so that it blended into the overall harmony. The diversity and unusualness of molluscs is such that it is often difficult to distinguish between the dozen or so molluscs and the abstract portions. The individual pieces are mounted on a piece of moose antler that it itself shaped to contribute to the overall effect.
Cornucopia is made from elk, deer and moose antler as well as some tagua nut. It is mounted on a base of polished Manitoba Maple with a natural edge.
35 cm W x 22 cm L x 35 cm H
13.5″W x 8.5″L x 13.5″H
A walking stick head should fit in the hand. It should be smooth, be ergonomically shaped to allow a good grip and be pleasing to the eye. A perfect shape for this is a cuttlefish–yes–a cuttlefish. The cuttlefish, like its close cousin the squid, is a cephalopod and related to, among others, the octopus. Besides being an intelligent hunter and predator of the oceans, the cuttlefish is a master of disguise and able to color and texture its skin to blend into its background, making it nearly invisible. It is also able to use this image changing feature to put on dazzling displays for courting and territorial defense.
This piece is carved from a single moose antler and is sized and shaped to be a pleasure to hold. The motif is a certain conversation piece and if necessary can act as a significantly effective weapon. The cuttlefish is fitted with carved glass eyes. The piece is mounted on a birch wood shaft.
A walking stick head should fit in the hand. It should be smooth, be ergonomically shaped to allow a good grip and be pleasing to the eye. A perfect shape for this is a toad–yes–a toad. Toads have been on the receiving end of bad press, being equated with slimy, obnoxious images. In reality, the toad likes to be left alone and is an effective predator of bugs. Larger toads have been known to consume mice and even small birds.
As legend goes, Chang-e, wife of the archer I, having drunk an elixir of immortality, turned into a toad and retired to live on the moon. Since that time, the toad is thought to bring longevity and immortality.
This piece is carved from a single moose antler and is sized and shaped to be a pleasure to hold. The motif is a certain conversation piece and if necessary can act as a significantly effective weapon. The toad is fitted with carved glass eyes. The piece is mounted on a Saskatoon wood shaft. The length of the wooden shaft has not been determined, so it can be customized to suit the user.
Dragons have become a popular motif for walking sticks, with the popularity of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Their style and appearance ranges greatly. Like Lord of the Rings, this piece grew with the telling. Carved from a single moose antler, I started with a poorly shaped piece of antler and had to develop the image given what was available. Antler carving of this form is a reductive process, so once removed, material cannot be added back. The resulting shape reflects getting the most from the original shape of the antler.
The dragon is outfitted with matched Australian sapphires, rectangular in shape and tri-colored in hue. The piece is meant to be mounted on a walking stick that is long enough that the dragon is grasped from the side, as opposed to from the top. If desired, it is also very suited to be held like a sword. The dragon head is mounted on a Saskatoon wood shaft of distinctive character. Altogether, this is a walking stick for someone with a solid conception of their own image.
I saw several articulated lobsters while visiting Japan. They varied in size and in the material they were created from: brass, steel, ivory, wood, etc. They were all amazing and extremely expensive. Most of the ones I saw were in the high end antique stores, usually behind glass so one could not touch them. Obviously, they were highly prized, so I decided to create one myself. Naturally, my starting place was a real lobster and I endeavored to make my lobster as lifelike as possible, using drawings and measurements to ensure that all pieces were correctly proportional and attached to each other in the correct manner.
This exceptionally lifelike piece is made from elk and moose antler. Including the wires and brass pins it is made of over 200 pieces. All joints move, hence the term articulated, including the antennae, the feeding arms, all joints of all eight legs, the large claws and each segment of the abdomen and of the tail section. The legs are attached to the body in a manner that supports the body in a position approximating a live lobster. All hinges are facilitated by brass pins. The eyes are facetted Swarovski black crystal. The piece mounts on a bur oak base that has support pieces for the body and claws.
One critic stated that “this piece is both monumental and exquisite.”
Sixteen tadpoles are depicted swimming through the water. Like the piece itself, the story behind it is somewhat complicated. It begins with Chaos Theory, where harmony and order are found within what appears to be a disorganized set of information.
Part of the theory is that if we knew all the factors affecting the activity of a system, we could, theoretically, be able to understand it better. Within Chaos Theory, are objects known as “strange attractors” – strange theory, strange name. A strange attractor is an object that, as its name implies, attracts forces to itself, if they are weak enough. If the forces are too strong, the activity of a system expands into randomness.
What has this to do with the carving? Well, it is an allegory for Chaos Theory. The tadpoles are swimming in a murky water, creating waves around themselves as they move. The pressure waves in the water move away from the tadpole until they meet another wave from another tadpole. These are the strong forces. Around each tadpole is an empty space representing the weak forces. The little swimmers are, in fact, acting as strange attractors.
If only the pressure waves were shown, we would not understand why they are there. With the presence of the tadpoles shown, we can understand why the waves look like they do. We have found understanding. If only the rest of physics was this easy.
The carving is made from a single piece of moose antler. Tadpoles cover all sides of the antler piece. The smooth ridges and backs of the tadpoles, interspersed with grooves feel like movement captured in your hand. The eyes are facetted crystal.
The lionfish is also known as the turkey fish, for obvious reasons, and as the scorpion fish because of the vicious toxin that can be injected into anyone who comes in contact with its back spines. The lionfish has no serious predators, due to its defenses. It’s bizarre camouflage is, instead, used to hide its presence from its prey, which are smaller fish. Indeed, it hardly looks like a fish at all and moves slowly.
This piece is made of over 60 parts, mostly from elk antler. The eyes are African glass beads. It sits atop a base of poplar.
This is an excellent example of the handmade antler art made by INAKA. This contemporary design handcrafted antler fish carving would be an asset to any home. High quality custom designed handmade antler sculpture is a reflection of the owner as well as of the artist.
15cm W x 20cm D x 25cm H
6”W x 8”D x 10”H
The inspiration for this piece came from a comment overheard at an international scientific meeting. An Indian scientist made a comment to the effect that someone “should not let the snake out of the can.” I realized this was the Asian equivalent of the North American saying to “not let the cat out of the bag” and gave me the idea for this piece. The cobra is made from elk antler and fits inside the included tea canister. It is designed to be handled.
This is an excellent example of the handmade antler art made by INAKA. This contemporary design handcrafted antler animal carving would be an asset to any home. High quality custom designed handmade antler sculpture is a reflection of the owner as well as of the artist.
8cm diameter x 13cm H
3”diameter x 5”H