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A former Australian Army officer, I first came into contact with the Japanese culture when I was selected to attend a 12-month intensive Japanese language course at the RAAF School of Languages at Point Cook (now the Australian Defence Force School of Languages, Laverton) in 1974. In 1978 I was sent to Japan by the Army for advanced Japanese language studies, consisting of one year at the United States Department of State Foreign Service Institute in Yokohama, and one year in the Office of the Military Attaché at the Australian Embassy, Tokyo. It was here that I met my wife Mariko, my soulmate and biggest supporter.

I left the Army at the end of 1986, eventually moving to Tokyo to live, and work with Mariko as free-lance Japanese-English translators. We continued our translation business after our return to Australia.

In 2006 we decided we needed a change, so with Mariko’s OK, I decided to pursue a third career, this time in woodworking, which had been growing into an increasingly serious hobby for quite some time.
Des King giving a graduation display presentation at Shokugei Gakuin.
In April 2008 I began a 12-month postgraduate course in construction and architecture at the International College of Craft and Art (Shokugei Gakuin) in Toyama, Japan. The course was entirely in Japanese, and comprised mostly practical work, with only a limited amount of theoretical studies. I concentrated on the traditional Japanese trade of tategu, which is essentially the production and fitting of doors and windows, especially shoji. After building the foundation in making and fitting glass doors and windows and shoji, I turned my focus to the intricate patterns that can be made by kumiko within shoji. This has now become the central theme of my work.

I completed the course in March 2009, and after extensive discussion, we decided to return to Australia and set up a workshop in the Gold Coast.
The world of kumiko craftsmen (and craftswomen) is one of secrecy, with new methods and techniques jealously guarded and handed down only within the family or business. Very little is written about how to make the various kumiko patterns, so it is a matter of looking at the designs, and working out how they were probably made, then designing the jigs needed to make those patterns. This is a skill in itself, and requires a solid grounding in the basics of shoji work. Shokugei Gakuin, and my instructor Sawada Sensei have given me those foundations, and over time my repertoire of patterns, and their complexity will continue to expand.
  certificate_of_completion2     職藝学院生涯学生証
Membership:
  • Member, Shokugei Network, Toyama, Japan

Exhibitions:
  • 2010 Studio Furniture Exhibition, Bungendore Wood Works Gallery, NSW (Awarded Gallery Acquisition Prize)

Publications:
  • Screening in Japan – Article in the Australian Wood Review Issue 67
  • Making Shoji – Article in the Australian Wood Review Issue 68
  • Book: Shoji and Kumiko Design: Book 1 – The Basics
  • E-book: Getting The Most From Your Kanna
  • E-book: The Complete Guide to Shoji and Kumiko Patterns: Volume 1
  • E-book: The Complete Guide to Shoji and Kumiko Patterns: Volume 2
  • E-book: The Complete Guide to Shoji and Kumiko Patterns: Volume 3
  • Book: Shoji and Kumiko Design: Book 2 – Beyond the Basics
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