of lacquer on the body of my tanago rod.
The colour has come out very rich and shiny, but the difficult part is to get the lacquer to stay this way. Even after the outermost layer has hardened to thr touch, it continues polymerising within, drawing moisture from the atmosphere, over years and years; whilst the lacquer becomes more translucent and acquires an illusion of depth, it also becomes lighter in hue. The thinnest piece of the five, in the foreground, has warped slightly inside the humid curing chamber, but will be fired and bent back into place once the lacquering is complete. Likewise, the raw-looking ends of each piece, to the right, will be lacquered straight black at a later stage so will look markedly better. Click through for some new rod projects in the works.
After visiting my teacher’s workshop over the long weekend, he gave me some advice regarding the proper method to tanago rods: not too much lacquer, and the bamboo eye on each piece must be a strake lower than half-way i.e., closer to the butt rather than the tip, and far more cryptically, that the rod must ‘look like Mt. Fuji’. Indeed, much of his teaching is based on the use of Mr. Miyagi-style, yet highly original, analogies: a badly jointed rod will ‘talk rubbish’; incorrect straightening of the bamboo over the fire will result in a ‘country bumpkin’; the insert part of each joint should not ‘look like a dog’s testicles’; and for me the most hilarious, perhaps due to its Monty Python and/or Zen Master-like ring, is that a ‘fishing rod must be like a tree’. Some of these have become clear to me over the last couple of years, yet others escape me to this day; despite being a biologist I have never been very attentive to the intromittent organs of Canis, and whilst not a professional botanist, I know full well that bamboo is a grass, not a tree.
However, as generous as ever he gave me a half-finished rod that was started by his late master; the bamboo is of excellent quality not to be found today and he said the best way to learn is to look at the good stuff to see how it is done properly. Whilst the prospect is slightly frightening, he gathered up some random pieces of yadake – the same bamboo that is used to make Japanese arrows – and told me to make a practice rod, this time bearing in mind what he had taught me.
The tip will be fashioned from a different type of bamboo, or possibly baleen, so is not featured in the photo. Also, the grip/butt is not yet decided.