Nécessaire Équilibre



2022, par cyriaque ambroise

This wagatabon* pair is based on the concept of a ‘ necessary balance ’ in all things. The arrangement and colours are reminiscent of the black and white yin yang  symbol, in’yō  いんよう in Japanese. The two parts are from the same log that was sawn in two, representing opposite forces becoming complementary, interconnected and interdependent, as they interrelate with one another.

The grooves evoke Japanese dry gardens (karesansui 枯山水), they represent ripples in the water and serve as a meditation aid.

The cracks within the pieces are a reminder, a quest for that fleeting moment where we know how to recognize and appreciate the beauty of impermanent and modest things."


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Nécessaire Équilibre | in’yō
Maple wood
LxWxH: 70x60x5cm


Absolutely no machines or power tools were used, only simple hand tools. Piece slowly hand carved from a locally sourced maple log. Work made on a Japanese-style workbench (atedai 当て台) using a Japanese wood chisel (oiire nomi ), a Japanese gouge (uchimaru nomi ) and a homemade mallet. The wooden blank was first squared with an axe. Log originally sawn to length with an old edger saw made in Sheffield, England.

The black piece has previously been scorched over a fire pit using the Japanese yakisugi  焼き杉 technique. Then it was naturaly dyed using the ebonization technique. A first coat with homemade oak gall extract to add tannins. Then a second coat with a homemade solution of ferric acetate (vinegar + steel wool). Natural oil finish.


See the different steps of the creative process


* Wagatabon  我谷盆: Wagata refers to the small village of Wagatani, in Ishikawa-ken, Japan; and Bon means tray. Wagata-Bon is a type of wooden tray that was once made by roof shingle makers in the village of Wagatani. It is said that the trays were made there since the beginning of the 17th century. Craftsmen split green chestnut logs to produce shingles, and kept the good pieces to carve the trays in winter. The craftsmanship disappeared in the 1960s before being resuscitated by a few Japanese artisans such as Tatsuaki Kuroda 黒田辰秋, Japan’s first living national treasure recognized for its woodworking. This know-how is today perpetuated by a handful of artisans in Japan and around the world.


This work was part of the Plant Explorations collection, facilitated by The New Craftsmen (London). In February 2022, The New Craftsmen invited a select group of makers to the Economic Botany Collections at Kew Gardens to examine and creatively respond to a myriad of objects and their narratives. The resulting collection celebrates humanity and the practical and beautiful use of plants.

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