Stone Carvings: Curves, Crowns, an Ouchie, and More…
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Smooth Curves Like a big sheet of plastic melting in the sun, sagging under its own weight -- Nishimura Stone Lantern workworkshopshop and garden -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Zeiss 100mm f/2 — 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1800 — map & image datanearby photos
Smooth Curves
Like a big sheet of plastic melting in the sun, sagging under its own weight

Among the seemingly infinite variety of objects in the gardens behind the Nishimura Stone Lanterns stone-carving workshop in the mountains of north-east Kyoto, Japan, I was particularly taken with the curved pieces. And of these, there was quite a variety, including water basins, pedestal tops, lantern-top adornments, and sloping roofs like the one in the photo above.

The roof of this piece looks thin and delicate, but the original block of stone it was made from must have necessarily been thick and substantial, only to surrender most of its mass to the carver's chisel. The bulk of that original block is now dust on the floor of the workshop, and I find that amazing: the carver works on a huge piece of stone for ages, but in the final result you don't see a single thing they did, only the small part they didn't do.

Looks So Cute but it's actually quite large -- Nishimura Stone Lantern workworkshopshop and garden -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Zeiss 100mm f/2 — 1/200 sec, f/2, ISO 1000 — map & image datanearby photos
Looks So Cute
but it's actually quite large

It looks so small in the shots above, but as I mentioned after the “lack of scale” photo in a previous post, it's huge.

Expansive ( I'm 6'4; my hands are not tiny ) -- Nishimura Stone Lantern workworkshopshop and garden -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 32 mm — 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 900 — map & image datanearby photos
Expansive
( I'm 6'4"; my hands are not tiny )

I also love how the stone is almost impregnated with moss and lichen. From a distance it looks like oddly green stone, but when you look closely you find an expanse of fine splotches of lichen and the occasional tiny tuft of moss.

“Sagging Roof” Foreground “ Three Kings ” way in the background -- Nishimura Stone Lantern workworkshopshop and garden -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 31 mm — 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 2500 — map & image datanearby photos
“Sagging Roof” Foreground
Three Kings” way in the background

The shot above is just a segue to a small section on the trio of large stone lanterns that I labeledThree Kings” in a previous post.

desktop background image of the tops of three old stone lanterns in Kyoto Japan, against a backdrop of bright orange fall foliage. -- Three Crowns -- Nishimura Stone Lantern workworkshopshop and garden -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Zeiss 100mm f/2 — 1/80 sec, f/2, ISO 360 — map & image datanearby photos
Three Crowns
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I love the detail in the carving on the base of the middle one... the delicate leaves and such...

Detail -- Nishimura Stone Lantern workworkshopshop and garden -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Zeiss 100mm f/2 — 1/80 sec, f/2, ISO 560 — map & image datanearby photos
Detail
Obligatory Context Shot -- Nishimura Stone Lantern workworkshopshop and garden -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Zeiss 100mm f/2 — 1/80 sec, f/2, ISO 360 — map & image datanearby photos
Obligatory Context Shot

Moving along...

Start of it All? -- Nishimura Stone Lantern workworkshopshop and garden -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 @ 16 mm — 1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1100 — map & image datanearby photos
Start of it All?

The thing at the far left that looks like a cross between a cinder block and an outhouse appears to be quite new, but otherwise everything in this shot seems to be old.... really old.... including the path. I don't even know what to make of most of them... the small water basin at foreground right appears to be paired with the larger whitish stone under it (which itself has a square water basin cut into it), but its use escapes me.

Just behind it is another water basin with odd notches cut in, as if someone was making a gear and gave up halfway. (I wonder whether they're intended to cradle small bamboo ladles, somewhat like the ones seen in this picture.)

And Now For Something Completely Different -- Nishimura Stone Lantern workworkshopshop and garden -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Zeiss 100mm f/2 — 1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 3600 — map & image datanearby photos
And Now For Something Completely Different
Ouch -- Nishimura Stone Lantern workworkshopshop and garden -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Zeiss 100mm f/2 — 1/200 sec, f/2, ISO 1250 — map & image datanearby photos
Ouch
Restraint I did not scratch “Fix Me” into the moss -- Nishimura Stone Lantern workworkshopshop and garden -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Zeiss 100mm f/2 — 1/160 sec, f/4, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Restraint
I did not scratch “Fix Me” into the moss

I don't know how fast moss grows, but once it covers the scar, the thing will look good as old again.

Finally, the garden had some of the red berries that are found everywhere in Kyoto during the winter, so to end the post with a Christmasy feel, a bonus desktop-background image....

desktop background image of a closeup of the red berries that are ubiquitous in Kyoto during the winter -- Nishimura Stone Lantern workworkshopshop and garden -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Zeiss 100mm f/2 — 1/200 sec, f/2, ISO 4000 — map & image datanearby photos
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Continued here...


All 4 comments so far, oldest first...

Great series today…love the punch line.

— comment by Winston Mitchell on December 24th, 2009 at 1:04am JST (8 years ago) comment permalink

My very best wishes to you and your family as the world (depending upon the time zone) celebrates
the birth of the Christ child. Your blog has been for me an insight to see the happenings of a
mixed nationality family in a foreign land years after the conclusion of WWII. And too the influx
of those from the United States in said country; friends connected by photography.

The most recent round of photography and the stone sculptures reminds us that our civilization is still
so very young in terms of history, compared to the Chinese and Japanese cultures. Then as now,
nature gathers on to itself all manner of being to be part of its world. The accumulation of moss covers everything, even those edges sharply exposed to the pure elements as illustrated by the broken corner.

Your left hand with wedding band illustrates perhaps best the scale of the size of the curved roof section in stone. Now I see how it was carved, and because of the thickness of the material (as shown by your hand) I can see why the curved sections did not break when carved. One enters a graveyard and realizes recent
monuments are often more the skill of the air or electrically powered grinding wheel
or a nozzle directing a harder substance than the stone being manipulated. Then again we are young
in terms of time and country. So long surviving monuments and designs are not seen as frequently. The skill of a sharpened
chisel, the hammer of wood or stone or metal on the head of the device gently tapping, shaping and forming as it were the desired item. Then these shapes are allowed to repose on the side of a hill marking the passage of their time. All to be discovered by jeffrey and his friend and recorded for the posterity of the present and future.

— comment by Bryce Lee on December 24th, 2009 at 1:26am JST (8 years ago) comment permalink

In the last image, is that a Ilex aquifolium (holly tree)?

— comment by parv on December 24th, 2009 at 11:17am JST (8 years ago) comment permalink

parv: I’m sure you’re right that it’s a holly, but not the European Ilex aquifolium. There are nearly 20 holly species in Japan, some evergreen, some deciduous; this may perhaps be Ilex macropoda, but I’m ready to be corrected !

These photographs from the Nishimura place have been fascinating, very atmospheric. It is studies like this that make Jeffrey’s blog so fascinating.

— comment by Peter in Wales on December 24th, 2009 at 11:16pm JST (8 years ago) comment permalink
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