Here are two more recent platters. In the first, the main character is Wu – Enlightenment (Satori in Japanese). The inscription is a line from a poem that means roughly: Ha – great splendor falls to ruin; the silver moon shines down, washing all away. A reminder that at the end of the day, what is important is family, friends and good times.
I like the way this piece turned out. The figure in the wood is really beautiful. I usually use cooler colors for the inlay but I like the reddish and gold here. I also like the way the woodburned calligraphy turned out. You basically have to get it right in one pass. The style is very abstract and free-flowing (caoshu), which does give you a bit more freedom. The point isn’t to recreate typeface-like characters. Often even native speakers can’t make out the characters in paintings written in this style. The emphasis in more on the aesthetics.
After talking with Steve Hatcher and looking at some of his platters, I decided to finish this with more layers of lacquer than usual. That does make the color and figure pop more. On the other hand, sometimes I prefer to retain more of the feeling of the wood and a somewhat less glossy appearance, particularly when the pieces has bark inclusions or other “marks of nature.”
The characters in this second piece are Chanyi – A Sense of Zen. Here, I used cooler green/blue colors that really stand out against the paler tones of the Big Leaf Maple. The black border also provides contrast and makes the inlaid characters pop. This one is also finished with multiple layers of lacquer.
In general, I like large, dramatic characters. And as these are both large platters (13.5 -15 inches), large characters work well. In this piece, the second character, carved and inlaid with the same colors, worked well given the grain patterns. In the first piece, the grain pattern required a series of smaller characters, burned rather than carved and inlaid, to provide contrast and balance.
I took these pictures outside with an iPhone instead of using my camera and a photo tent, as I usually do. I was a bit pressed for time because my friend Martin wanted to take them back with him to Sydney, and I wanted to spend time showing him beautiful San Diego rather than taking pictures. But it is pretty amazing what kind of pictures you can take just using phones these days.