Design

Thinly Shaved Wood Makes Up Yosegi Wood Designs

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Patterns on the little wooden boxes made with yosegi techniques look like they could be painted on, but that's not the case. This Japanese technique uses thinly sliced pieces of wood to construct intricate and naturally colored designs.

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What's So Cool About It

Yosegi is known for its beautiful and intricate patterns. Despite its vivid hues, nothing is painted—all the colors come from the natural hues of different woods, which come from the many trees that grow in the Hakone region of Japan, where the technique originated.

To begin the process, the yosegi artist glues different wooden rods together to form geometric patterns and shapes in one big block. Next is the coolest part: The artist shaves tiny slices off of the patterned block so that each slice bears the design. Finally, the artist uses those slices to decorate boxes and other wooden objects.

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Why It's Relevant

In the modern world, quantity is often valued over quality, and doing something fast is usually chosen over doing it well. Time is money, after all. Technology and craftsmanship don't really mix, which means the latter is disappearing. The fact that yosegi is still around is a heartening reminder that the world still appreciates the care and history that goes into objects made by hand.

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Editor's Picks: Our Favorite Videos Showcasing Yosegi

How Yosegi Is Done

Would you believe these are all thinly shaved slices of wood?

The Hypnotizing Art Of Hakone Yosegi

This might be the most relaxing video in the world.

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