Te sukuri nobebera

The hand made stretchy stick!

Following on from my visit to the maker of Kanna turning tools and other wooden pottery tools. This afternoon, I have just found the time to make my commitment to my new hand-made stretchy stick. An implement used here for throwing the inside of open forms. This particular one is specifically made for throwing and opening up bowl forms, stretching them out, as it were. So why would I want one? 🙂


It was impressed upon me at the time of purchase that this tool is a partnership for life. A tool made of superior, old, well seasoned, azalea wood, that will last my whole lifetime if looked after, but it needs to be customised to my hand and my feel for the clay, then adjusted for my technique and the specific bowls that I am making. I will probably end up needing several of these tools in various subtlely different iterations. I may make some of my own once I have got used to this one, and if I find that it can be accommodated to my own preferences for throwing. I have plenty of fruit tree pruning wood at home, some in reasonably large enough cross-section to be useful for this application. I also have some very old, well seasoned, red grained, eucalyptus. That might be good to experiment with?


This afternoon I went to the hardware shop and had a sort of conversation, if you can call charades with funny noises a conversation? I don’t have sufficient vocabulary for this situation and they didn’t have much English, but together we managed to laugh our way through all the options until we arrived at the objective which was sand paper. If I were at home, I have all this stuff on tap in the workshop, but here every little job, becomes a much larger exercise in communication and perseverance, as well as good will and humour.
I ended up buying two sheets of sand paper. No. 60# and 240# mesh, to sand my new nobebera, This tool looks like a shoe-horn sort of shape.
I spent 2 hours working on it, so that it would fit my hand better, and now it’s looking and feeling pretty special and a lot more comfortable. Smooth as glass. This old seasoned azalea wood is really tough and hard to work. I wasn’t expecting it to take 2 hours, but it did, and it isn’t finished yet.
After I was reasonably happy with the fit and contour, I wet it and let it dry to rise the grain. Then sanded it all over again with the fine grade paper, to get it very smooth, so that the raised wood grain won’t leave streaky scratch lines inside the bowl during throwing.
I need to throw with it for a few hours to get a better feel for what else I need to do to get the best out of it. Once it was mostly right, or as right as I can imagine to begin with, all the roughness sanded off and the tip smoothed out, made silky smooth and with an even curve. I gave it a thin rub over with some olive oil to finish it off ready for some work. It looks and feels good. When you buy these tools from the maker, they are only roughly shaped and need a lot of finishing to bring them up to your personal preference for the precise shape and finish.
Tatsuya san took me to the maker’s workshop last week and chose what he thought was the best one for me. He also drew on it with a pencil, to indicate what he thought should be the correct finished shape.
It was $50 bucks and not even finished!
Tatsuya demonstrated using his when we were there at his place this time last year and he threw for us. He has had his for the 40 years that he has been a potter. His are nicely wabi,sabi now and well-worn in. The azalea wood is very hard to sand. I can tell that it will be a good, hard-working tool with a long life.
Thank you Tatsuya. I am grateful!
Best wishes from Steve in the very special porcelain town of Arita