Friday, August 8, 2014

The Plants Can Wait: “Rock, People, Chisels” at Kubota Garden

8/8/14 Diamine Chocolate Brown, Red Dragon, Pilot Iroshizuku Take-Sumi and Tsuyu-kusa inks, Zig markers, Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencils, Canson XL 140 lb. paper

Scheduling today’s Friday ad hoc sketch outing at Kubota Garden was prompted by an event Kate saw on the garden’s website: “Rock, People, Chisels,” an Ishigaki (stone wall) workshop. I didn’t pay much attention to that event because I knew from a previous visit years ago that the garden itself would be a delight to sketch, and any additional event would be frosting on the cake. As it turned out, I spent the whole time on the “frosting” and decided that the “cake” – the 20 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens – could wait for a future visit.

As soon as we walked onto the property, I realized something big was going on: A huge yellow crane no different from the kind I’ve been sketching at construction sites rose ominously above the gardens. I soon understood that the “rocks” these people were chiseling were actually huge boulders – 500 tons of granite that would be cut and turned into an 8-foot wall built with a 10,000-year-old dry-stone stacking method. Fifteen stonemasons had traveled from all over the country and Japan to work on the project with Junji and Suminori Awata, 14th and 15th generation stonemasons and masters of their craft. They use the same techniques that were used to build Japanese castles before the 16th century. The wall they are building will become Kubota Garden’s Terrace Overlook.

All of that is very interesting, but as soon as I saw the stonemason team at work, I took a “sketch-first,-ask-questions-later” approach. (I learned what they were doing afterwards during a break.) Despite the constant clink-clink-clinking of chisel on stone and the swirls of dust set off by masons blowing excess debris through a straw, I was sucked in immediately by their activity. As their painstaking work continued, a master would occasionally come by to make suggestions or demonstrate a technique.

8/8/14 Platinum Carbon, Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuyu-kusa and Fuyu-syogun inks,
watercolor, Zig markers, Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencils
Eventually the crane started rotating into action, moving boulders around, so for my second sketch, I walked around the pond to the opposite side of the site. My sketch viewpoint is just a short distance from the view in the architect’s conceptual image below, which shows what the completed terrace will look like next spring.

We had a great turnout of sketchers on this gorgeous day, including several new faces!

Architectural rendering of the completed terrace.

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting event to be able to sketch. I really like how you moved across the lake for the second sketch to capture what was happening. It wouldn't have been the same sketching up close. Nice!!!


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