· r e j i q u a r · w o r k s ·
the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn
Winter Wind Bell
風鈴(furin) out of season

Japanese wind bells are an iconic part of the country's warm season, and one of Hashiuchi-san's many splendid お土産 (souvenir-gift) to me was the opportunity to hand paint, and take home, a 風鈴 (furin). Everyone was very patient with me as I rang numerous plain ones to find the one with the best tone.

雪の風鈴, (snowy wind bell) 21jan24; sony ILCE-7C, sony 90mm macro; f/2.8, ev 0, 1/100s, ISO 500, WB daylight/ cropped but otherwise out of the box. This isn't a great photo, but I loved the background colours, and the humour of a summer bell with snow on it.

Traditionally, you paint these things on the inside but the clerk at the mall where I got it failed to mention this, saying the paint would last if I let it dry thoroughly.[1] AFICT, it was just ordinary, albeit artist-quality, latex/acrylic paint. I chose 桜 (cherry blossoms) as the iconic subject matter for Japan, though of course they bloom in the spring (or even winter,)[2] though the iconic flowers for that season are the related plum) and furin are summer items.

So this object encompasses three seasons: spring, summer, winter.

I also wanted Hashiuchi san to write the calligraphy on the fluttering paper that hangs from the bell, but he demurred because he wasn't a 書道家 (calligrapher). 書道 sho-do—calligraphy— means something in Japan: to write (with a brush and ink) is to draw (again, with brush and ink)[3] because drawing is merely a subset of writing, far more so than calligraphy is a just-barely-on-the-margins craft of “art” in the western fine art tradition: the closest you could get to this sense is to think about medieval illumination, especially the way the decorated dropped capitals are incorporated into the text.

Anyway. I didn't care about all that, I just wanted the words to be written in Hashiuchi-san's hand; but he requested his daughter d0 it instead since she'd practised more recently. (Japanese children are required to learn sho-do as part of their school curriculum, but just as most USians put away their algebra forever once they leave school, most Japanese write with inkpens, if they write at all (since most casual written communication is now typed, especially on phones, as in the US.)

Eventually, the paper wore out, or rather, the whole thing fell apart and it got hopelessly muddy (as I recall[4] and so I made a new one, with my crappy shodo. Actually, I had to make two, the first one was too heavy: furin look very simple from a bead-stringer's POV to assemble, but they're designed to be super light and sensitive to catch the very slightest breeze, and even substituting the finest guage beadalon (0.012) that I had, it still doesn't catch the breezes like the original chainette, which literally rotted away from UV exposure.

In addition to the paper, I lost some other pieces when the original string broke, so I also took the opportunity to sub in lampwork beads. (Fortunately, the bell itself didn't break.) —Someday, I'd like to try blowing my own, out of boro, with coloured glass—then I'd never have to worry about the paint slowly peeling off (as it is finally doing, especially since this year I left it out during the winter and freeze thaw cycles, while not cracking the glass as I'd feared, are certainly doing a number on my paint job. —Which, since I felt about it more or the way Hashiuchi-san did about his handwriting, is just fine.)

[1]I mean, this was just a little stall, geared to the person on the street, presumably without the, ahem, “artistic training” that a BFA & 50 odd years of messing around with drawing and painting would be presumed to give.

[2]as I write this I think cherry blossom season has already ended in Kyoto?

[3]graphite under-drawing isn't really a thing in traditional 2D visual/paper arts over there

[4]It was too damaged to re-use, sadly, but I believe I saved it as a piece of precious ephemera to be used in collaging...if I can ever find it amongst the piles of scraps


[travel] [photography] [2024]