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  • Writer's pictureNigel

In search of colour 色を求めて

2023 年 3 月 3 日

Last week I was bemoaning the lack of colour in modern architecture. There is a lot of white around these days in Germany. This is the current fashion - flat roofs and white walls. Here is a recent development in the northern part of Langen......ランゲンの新しいアパート / 彼らはいつも白い

But today I walked past this block of social housing, and thought "well there is a sight for sore eyes!"...previously there had been a really boring-looking block of post-war housing here.....They demolished all this in 2020....

but kept the tree, which now graces the courtyard of the new complex....

The new housing is still basic, but modern basic - energy efficient, colourful, and with a pleasant courtyard which has benches and play areas for children. Altogether a successful project I would say.

What the neighbours are like is anyone's guess. Human Beings no doubt, with all that comes with that condition. (intriguingly, the Japanese for Human Being is 人間.... = person = interval, space..... i.e we are only a passing interval in the passage of time....all is impermanent......"ningen" ) カラフルな新しいアパート

Nearby I discovered this little bit of fun.....and it made me think...."I'd like to see more of this sort of thing around". こういう面白いのもっと見たい

The Architects Antonio Gaudí and Friedrich Hundertwasser knew all about fun and imagination......... Here is some of Gaudí's work which I saw in Barcelona a long time ago (read all about Barcelona in "The Shadow of the Wind" - see later)...........the Park Güell.............ガウディが設計したバルセロナの想像力豊かな公園

....and I was pleasantly surprised to walk past this today - the entrance to a kindergarten. Some colour and imagination here at least!

Of course the high and mighty don't approve of fun architecture - here is the Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt....

however, you can use natural materials, which have their own colour. This 19thc. mansion, off the Kettenhofweg in Frankfurt, has somehow survived intact....


Having been holed up all week at home with a heavy cold, I needed some distraction. I had the urge to curl up on the sofa with a good read. 私は一週間ずっと風邪をひいていたので、本を読む必要がありました. Scanning my bookshelves I chose this : The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. The backdrop for this story is the Barcelona that Gaudí would have known. Dictatorship. In 1933 his workshop in the Sagradra Familia cathedral was ransacked by fascist thugs during the civil war. Plans, drawings etc. all destroyed. Plus ca change. Fascists are always afraid of criticism and freedom of information - Hitler, Mussolini, Franco....need I go further?

A review decribes the book more eloquently than I can, so I will simply insert the link here

What the reviewer doesn't mention are the hilarious lines that punctuate this rather colourful and sensual, gothic slow-burning thriller. For example : "Don Federico lived with his deaf octogenarian mother, known in the neighbourhood as "La Pepita", who was famous for letting off hurricane-force wind capable of stunning the sparrows on her balcony and sending them spiralling down to the ground" 🤣 (Wind = おなら 屁 )


A new week means new jobs. First job is this 'cello.....新しい週。 新作

Then it's a violin. It needs new pegs, and therefore new peg holes. First of all I have to ream out the old holes and insert "bushings". And the ideal wood for this is boxwood. Like any other woodworker, I love boxwood. Here's a small chunk of it......つげ黄楊. 私はこの木が大好きです.

It has a creamy, smooth texture rather like olive wood - but without all the mad convoluted growth of that tree. It's very fine grained, and good for small decorative or functional features on fine furniture, or on instruments like harpsichords or organs. The new console on this organ (Göttingen, St. Jacobi church) may well have stained boxwood ("ebonized") keys, but I will have to check this out next time I am there.....黒ツゲ

photo:Nik Myers

Wondering what the music is? Nik tells me it is a "Prelude on an old Irish Church Melody" by Stanford. Well, I bet that has never been played in Göttingen before.....

But to return to boxwood. It has, in fact, also been used for centuries for stringed instrument fittings, recorders, chess pieces (here again the black pieces are stained boxwood - made to look like ebony), set squares and rulers. All this before plastic arrived on the scene.

I measure........はか (計) る

and saw out some of the wood........

noticing the word tattebiki ( たてび き ) on the saw blade I look it up.... (you never know when you might need a ripsaw in Japan😉 ).... Oh wow...well, actually translates as "ripsaw" - interesting!

Before putting it into the lathe I shape it into a rough cylinder........

Then I turn it to the correct taper on the lathe.......せんばん旋盤

And whilst being cut on the lathe, boxwood exhudes a pleasantly tangy, toasty sort of smell, rather like a pine forest on a hot summer's day....aaahhh!!! 木はいい匂いがする

After I have bushed ("plugged") the old peg holes of the violin, I then have to trim them down. Picking up another saw I notice more Kanji on the blade.....千 , 年 and 桜......which of course distracts me. means 1000, means year, and means sakura - ie cherry you could say that I am using my "Sakura Millenium Saw" ! Sounds good enough for me....

In another corner of the workshop sits this enormous early 19thc. viola. I've got to make it sound good enough to match the other intruments in a baroque orchestra. You can see I've fitted a really long soundpost as long as a flagpole inside - that's the most important bit of the whole set-up.....


Meanwhile I was glad that I hadn't organized a long hike this week. My weather app looked optimistic.......

...and true there was some sun. But there was also this.......

Hail! - 雹!- March can bring its surprises. Of course we are all looking out for hopeful signs of spring....Iike this....ねこやなぎ (猫柳)

and this....

....or this.....

A friend of mine spotted something in the woods near Darmstadt which I have never seen.....a Salamander....翻訳?Nature's splash of colour !

Photo: Phe

That's all for this week 今週は以上です, apart this colourful Ukrainian/Italian breakfast, with premonitions of spring outside....

Photo : The Borzenko family


Thank you for reading !

Feel free to share it with friends if you like. よろしければ、リンクを友達と共有してください😊

I send out the blog pretty randomly to whoever I think might be interested. Either by email, LINE or WHATSAPP. If you don't want to be sent this blog, don't hesitate to tell me and I shall take you off the list. No problem.

この投稿を読んでいただきありがとうございます。 新しい投稿のお知らせを受け取りたい場合は、上部の購読フォームに記入してください。 ありがとう!Nigel.😊




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1 Comment

Mar 05, 2023

I enjoyed the detailed description of how you work with boxwood on you jobs.

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