Before I get back to the planes I’m trying to finish up, I want to go on to a bit more of the Ranma project I’ve been working on this week in between coats of french polish. The traditional square network of kumiko in shoji are relatively straightforward, with lap joints at each intersection. The triangular, or diamond pattern, however, is a fair bit tricker as each node of the lattice involves three members to join. I don’t know of any written information in english on the techniques for this — though there are some sketches in Nakashima’s Soul of a Tree. I pestered a couple of expert shojimakers in the US while puzzling out the details, and I thought I’d put up a not-so-brief summary of the basic techniques and joinery.
I’m going to try to document this as well as I can without taking 2 hours of your time, but please be forewarned that it may be a bit confusing at first. It may help to have a look at the final piece first, to get a sense of what we’re working toward. Here is a roughly 24″ x 7″ section of diamond-pattern kumiko that I’ll be using in the final ranma:
In order to make the ‘grid’ work, there are three different members of the lap joint that have to be employed – one for the horizontal pieces, one for the ‘left leaning’ pieces, and one for the ‘right leaning’ pieces. Here are my test sample pieces:
Second – these joints are really made to be assembled ONCE and once only. Assembling them compresses the fibers at each joint, giving you a fairly nice fit, but they will never go together that cleanly again if you take them apart. If you look at that final test joint photo, you can see what I mean. That piece was put together and taken apart twice before this picture, and you can see on the left and right edges of the joint where the piece has been somewhat crushed, making it feel ‘not so fresh’.
I want to pause briefly here to let both of the readers of this blog know that no matter how poor the title of this entry was, you have no idea how much worse it almost was. Now normally I’m a lover of the finer things in wordplay as well as tools, but there are some times that even the most pathetic specimens of wordplay can worm their way into even the most refined bloggibitionists’ prose. Especially in the title…
Let’s be honest, here — it just ain’t in a man’s nature to gracefully decline the savage temptation of titling a shoji blog entry “Lattice Begin” — to say nothing of its flashier, drunker sister “Lattice pray.” Sure it’s easy to toss “Kumiko Chameleon” onto the scrap heap of really really bad ideas – but who among us wouldn’t be drawn to the trailer trash siren song that is “Kumiko – you get there faster if you take it slow”? (And to think – Mike Love was the SANE one). Even strong men must at times swoon ‘neath such strains…
But fortunately, I didn’t foist any of those monstrous succubi onto you, gentle reader. You may now breathe a sigh of relief.