Top critical review
10 people found this helpful
Everything you may or may not want to know about shoji
on November 11, 2011
Mr. van Arsdale sets out to write a little bit about almost every conceivable aspect of Japanese translucent shoji screens. This includes a little bit of history, design philosophy, tools, materials, construction techniques, a simple project plan for a screen, a few pages of patterns, and some supplier lists (dating from the late `80s when the book was new - some, perhaps many, are still around.
In the end all the short bits of writing really makes me wonder for whom the book was written. If you are an expert the material is too simplistic. If you are a novice interested in building a shoji screen then the material is, I think, somewhat misleading in the sense that lessons on how to sharpen chisels and selecting Japanese planes are not the first things somebody with no experience should learn from a book like this. In that context I also think that the implicit advice that you really need Japanese style tools to do any of this is exaggerated. I have some nice ones and like them very much, but I don't see them as a requirement.
In the department is missing content, on the other hand, I would have very much liked to see a discussion of more important things like proportions. Sure it is subjective, but it is also a key to what makes the japanese Japanese. Overall an OK book, but I would look around for other ones more tailored to some specific aspects of the shoji topic.