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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chapter 64 - The Tokonoma of the Right Hand Room Second Floor, A Bird Cage

April 17th - 25th 2013

With the room prepared, it was time to install the tokonoma or the raised dais section of the room.  I had been given some small pieces of olive tree wood and wanted to use this as the column support for the tokonoma.  Usually you can use a small branch or just plain wood as I did in the first two rooms but I wanted this column to reflect a little where this house is being built.  I know that it is quite improbable that Japan would use olive wood for a column as I suspect it’s not quite hard enough to support walls and would be more decorative but I liked the idea none the less.

The piece of wood was rustic with some bark still attached.  I was keen on keeping that section of bark intact somewhat but the shaping needed cutting and sanding to adapt to the rest of the installation.  I used a small saw and my electric sander to get the piece down to a certain point.  Then I just had to figure out the best position to show off the wood and the bark.  To do that, I had to move ahead with making the wall pieces that are attached to the column.  I covered them with some leftover tatami mat and then tested them against the column.  Once I decided on the side I wanted to be viewed, I notched the column where the wall pieces would fit.  This took a while but eventually I got them to fit in.
Original kit column piece and the piece of olive wood.

Cutting and shaping the wood.

Nearly finished.  Just have to fit to size.

Two ceiling pieces that get inserted into the olive column

Olive column now notched for the ceiling pieces.

How the pieces in theory will fit.

In the meantime, I had to prepare the raised dais which needed painting (black) varnishing and sanding much like before.  Once I got through various layers of varnish and sanding, I then waxed this piece as well.  I also did the same to the olive wood column until it had a nice shine.

Now in a perfect world, everything should fit but it doesn’t really.  It took some coaxing and sawing off of the wall pieces to have this section fit into the room.  The olive column is larger than the actual kit piece so it causes the wall pieces to be too long or too high.  I eventually got them in place although some bits of tatami came away in the process.  I replaced some but since I liked the idea of a rustic unkempt inn (something I’ve been leaning towards since the beginning of this build) I just left some bits exposed.   Needless to say, only 6 days later was I able to start playing with more embellishments in the room. 
Small tokonoma dais installed as well as the dividing wall.

Overnite clamping and coaxing the pieces in
I needed to cover some wooden cabinet doors with the paper I had used for the fusuma in the previous chapter.  Only I was using the reverse side so I got through gluing on the paper and leaving it to dry.  I had to paint all the cabinet pieces black to stay in the theme of the black/red in the room.  Also, I had received as a “free gift” from DHE (after making some purchases) a bird cage and a bird.  The cage was pretty awful wicker thing with a plastic bird in it - quite horrible - but the other bird was actually made of feathers of some sort and a pretty blue.  So, I had decided that my red room would have a bird in a gilded cage too.  I opened the cage to remove the cheesy bird and painted the whole thing black.  I then fashioned the pretty bird’s perch and repainted the whole cage a dirty gold bronze like color.  I also managed to find some Japanese newspaper print and placed that in the bottom of the cage.  I also made a bit of “bird poo” in there too.  The bird does not seem very pleased but what bird is actually happy about being caged?  I then added a toothpick and a bit of chain that was left over from an earlier installation and the cage is ready to be hung in the room.
Blue bird on the left, wicker cage painted black.

Adding some newspaper in the bottom of the cage

Painting the cage bronze

Unhappy bird in the cage.
I took the opportunity of drilling a small hole in the lower left side of the floor for the LED that will go there.  I am going to make another small lamp that will fit in the corner.  I imagine there would be no room on the other side what with the cabinets and all.  Putting together the cabinets as usual was a chore.  The pieces are so small and never really fit quite right.  The upper cabinet was impossible and I ended up glueing the doors in place so that I could fit them in after tedious sanding.  They therefore do not slide.  The bottom cabinet is a bit larger so technically the doors would slide - but I wouldn’t dare try for fear the whole thing would not be able to withstand the stress.  Such small doors require lots of precise sanding to make them actually functional and honestly I do not have the expertise.  I like them the way they are tho. 
Painting all the tiny cabinet pieces.

Sorting them out with the covered cabinet doors. Tedious.
After touch ups and varnishing, they were glued into place.  The upper cabinet seems a bit off but it’s actually the overhead ceiling piece which is crooked.  No matter.  I love the little doors with the motif from the Japanese paper.  And the cage will look nice once I’ve got my other objects on the tokonoma.
Long chapter but pretty satisfying.
Finished tokonoma. LED peeking thru on the left.

View of the olive grain in the wood.