“The secret of a warrior is that he believes without believing… A warrior, whenever he has to involve himself with believing, does it as a choice, as an expression of his innermost predilection. A warrior doesn’t believe, a warrior has to believe.”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

Kumiko Unfolding – Part5: Asa-no-ha

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Once I had workable kumiko strips I gladly turned to making an asa-no-ha pattern. I spoiled two sets of kumiko strips before I got the marking and cutting decently done.

As I was doing this I felt that I had developed an attachment to the kumiko strips. They were difficult to create and felt like a precious resource and that put me into a kind of scarcity relationship with them. I had to work through that. I had to allow myself to try and fail, to learn through doing.

My third attempt led to an acceptable jigumi (the basic grid in which the pattern is created). Here is the jigumi with diagonals already added to it:

A couple of hours later I was looking at my first complete asa-no-ha pattern:

Making this first pattern (like many other following steps) made me better appreciate the need for precision. Consistent precision in early steps (such as milling kumiko strips) leads to ease and peace in later steps. All of which contributes to a better quality pattern.

When I started this experiment I had a notion that precision was about my skill and effort … and it is … but in a subtle and indirect way. For example, I worked hard at trying to cut strips better, but my efforts were not yielding better results. I came to appreciate that skill was not just about how I hold and move a saw … which despite my best efforts kept following the grain pattern. Using a jig that guided the saw and kept it aligned was a better investment of my effort. A good combination of tools, techniques and process lead to better outcomes with less effort.

I keep coming back to this video as an inspiring example of smart and peaceful work. In it the maker is using a jig to make cuts that yield repeatable and reliable results (instead of a lot of measuring, cutting, adjusting … fiddling).

For me, mastery in this video is exemplified in the unspoken “environment” that makes such work possible:

  • knowing and having a constant dimension of jigumi (the grid that is filled out).
  • knowing and having constant dimensions of kumiko strips to match the jigumi.
  • considering how to get materials in & out of the jig.
  • a familiarity and sensitivity to the way the saw cuts through the material … so that the work surface is barely scratched!

The “genius” comes not so much from the maker but from the relationship and mastery with his surroundings. Creating processes, tools and techniques that, at every step of the way, lead to … peaceful making:

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