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The visual arts are, for a writer like me, akin to magic. I see the finished product and the raw material and I basically have no idea how the artist got from point A to point B — even if I actually watched them work through the entire process! And when it comes to sculptures, all bets are off. You could tell me a wizard conjured the work whole with a wave of a wand, and I’d be hard-pressed to prove you wrong.

Fortunately, the incredibly talented Mio Hashimoto, woodcarver and artist, has written a how-to book explaining some of her methods and showing the detail of some of her adorable animal sculptures. Now, at least, I’ll know exactly how she achieved her results, even if I’ll never have a chance of replicating them myself. And for all you artists out there, aspiring or otherwise, this book will teach you how to make all the pets you’ll ever want!

Famous in Japan and abroad for her animal sculptures, Mio Hashimoto has not only been creating works of her own but also teaching workshops for years. Photos and videos of a shiba inu interacting with a sculpture of itself have gone viral, and Mio’s fame rose after she was featured in a Uniqlo commercial.

▼ Uniqlo commercial

▼ A shiba inu and its sculpture

It’s obvious that Mio has a talent for capturing the adorableness of pets — and she’s certainly created enough sculptures to fill a wooden zoo! Maybe even a petting zoo, though we wouldn’t recommend trying to snuggle with them at night…

▼ As cute and hard as a button

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▼ At least a wooden cat won’t interrupt your computer time!

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▼ As many shiba inu as you could want without ever having to pick up poop!

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▼ It’s not “too many cats” if they don’t smell, right?

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▼ Well, this might just be the cutest thing you’ll see all day!

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But Mio isn’t stingy with the secrets of her trade. In fact, she wants to help you make your own wood sculptures and she’s doing just that with a new book titled Hajimeteno Kibori Doubutsu Tenaraichou, which is roughly Beginning Animal Woodcarving How-to Book. The book is, as the title suggests, a primer on carving your own cute animals. Obviously, it’s targeted at people who are new to carving animal sculptures, but it also includes photos of Mio’s sculptures, so you can buy it just for the pictures if you’re not artistically inclined.

▼ Two of the projects from the book and the wood blocks they’re carved from.


▼ Here are two sample pages on making a cat broach.

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▼ First things first, sketch your kitty!

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The book is currently available from Amazon Japan and it looks as if they’ll even ship it overseas, though there doesn’t appear to be an English version yet. The cover price is 1,836 yen (about US$15) and you can also buy supplies from the companion site, Tenaraicho Shop, which offers carving tools, wood blocks, paint, and more. Unfortunately, it looks like the Tenaraicho Shop only ships domestically,  but we’re pretty sure you can buy wood and carving supplies pretty much anywhere in the world.

▼ A video about the making of the book

Mio also takes commissions for sculptures through her website, in case you simply have no artistic ability, like myself. Hmm…I wonder if we can get her to do a sculpture of Mr. Sato…

Sources: Artist Database, Amazon Japan
Top image: Amazon Japan
Images: Amazon Japan, Tenaraicho Shop