Wednesday 18 September 2013

Yakusugi Pendants

Last year a good friend gave me a block of Yakusugi wood as a souvenir from Japan. Yakusugi is a Japanese term for Cryptomeria that are more than 1000 years old and originating from Yakushima island.

Cryptomeria is unique to Japan, where it is known as Sugi and often called Japanese cedar in English, though the tree is part of the cypress family and not related to the true cedars.

Japanese cedar generally lives for 500 years. Due to the less nutritious granite soil of Yakushima island, the cedar there grows much slower with a tighter grain and can survive for more than 2000 years.

Yakusugi has to endure high humidity and rainfall and has evolved with a higher resin content which makes then more resistant to rotting.
Since it is no longer permitted to fell Yakusugi today, souvenirs such as mine are made from the stumps of previously felled trees or those that have fallen in typhoons.

The beautiful grain of Yakusugi lends itself well to decorative items and as such I decided to craft a few pendants with this soft wood. As this wood is fairly light, I felt the need to give it a harder backing by creating a twin laminate using 'Ipe - Brazilian ironwood'. The darker tone works well to both strengthen the pendant and highlight the lighter Yakisugi.
The style of the pendant and the distinctive stringing are directly inspired by native New Zealand Toki pendants that are traditionally crafted from jade. All string work is a strong 100% hemp coated in beeswax prior to twisting.

These and similar pendants will soon be made available in our online store.