Despite being careful, wiping the edges while printing and shielding the registration marks with a little piece of brass sheet or a spoon (yeah that works pretty well too!), sometimes the white border around a print gets a stray mark of pigment like the image on the left.
What happened on the right? Not an eraser and not white out! I used my knife to fix this little mistake. The knife has to be really sharp, especially on this Echizen Kozo paper, which is really fluffy. I’ve heard that on some paper, a little sandpaper might remove spots like this but not on this paper (I tried) – it just raises the fibers and makes it look fuzzy. Instead, a very shallow slice on either side –
— and the spot is banished! I learned this (and got the bravery to try it) from watching Dave Bull on his Twitch live stream. Thanks Dave!
Alright, Light Show reprint #2 is completely done, time to move on. I’ve been working on a design based on some scenery from a recent socially-distanced hike I went on with some friends in the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve northwest of Austin. We drove separately, did not hug or get anywhere near close enough to, but it was good to be able to talk in person – 10 feet away! – to human beings I know and love.
It was a lovely day, early Spring and still cool, and up the hill from this sweet little stream and pool was a hill strewn with rocks and crowned by trees. Once home, I commenced to sketching. My ultimate design is only loosely based on these images, is fairly stylized, and really focuses on rocks. (I love rocks!)
But before I can make another print, I need woodblocks. I have enough cherry thin lumber to make three printing surfaces that are about 6″ x 8″, and some holly that I got as an experiment to see if it might be sort of like boxwood, plus some plywood to laminate it too, and some odds and ends to paste on for registration marks, so they can be outside the 6″ x 8″ image region. That about exhausts the supplies I have lying around! After glueing and clamping —
— I now have two double-sided blocks, with three cherry faces and one holly. I have no idea how the holly will work. It seems very homogenous and free of grain, but it might be lying to me!
I also have some Shina ply, which I suppose I could use for color blocks if I can’t get anything better in time.
Here I’ve started on the line work.
Next: planning for which paper to use, and how to cut it to avoid waste. Then I can properly size the line work, and make a transfer sheet, paste it down, and start carving! Woohoo!
Shipping is (was?) kind of slow because of the reduction in flights, but a few days ago I got a package of goodies from Mokuhankan! Three small prints, and a “cat bus” print party print, possibly printed by Dave (I saw him print some on his Twitch stream!)
(I feel lucky that my shipment was able to get here. It took a long time – like 3 weeks or so. Now Japan Post is not accepting any shipments to the USA, because there are no flights to put them on. This is a real hardship for businesses in Japan whose customers are mostly in other places.)
So what’s in the small packages? Here are the three prints with no wrapping or plastic in the way.
The detail and printing skill of these little prints is really impressive. Here are some closeups:
And check out the beautiful embossing on the heron! The official name for this technique is karazuri, or “empty printing.” I’m in awe of the fine lines and delicate detail of these prints.
Here they are! This makes it look like there are a lot of them. I guess there are; there are more than can be seen in one of these views 😉
I made 19 on Echizen Kozo, three on practice paper, and 3 on the Kizuki Hosho I recently got from Kitaro paper. The Kitaro paper is a little more off-white; one of the sheets is the lower-right-most in the right-side image below.
After drying a little in open air, they will be pressed between mat boards to finish drying flat. Then I will take a serious look. I’m hopeful that once they are dry the Echizen Kozo will be a little tougher than when it was damp.
If you are wondering what’s on the far wall…
I had planned to print last night, applying maybe the last impression – the dark lines with sumi – on the fireflies, but when I looked at the block, I saw that some lines were missing. Blasted shina plywood again! You can see pretty clearly below that I filled in some places where the top ply went missing. Before printing, I’ll need to let the glue cure and then trim the patches to match the lines they are patching.
I’ve learned before that I need to let the glue cure really well before trying to use a block I’ve repaired this way. The next time I’ll have a chunk of time for printing is Thursday. There are 25 sheets in my stack – 19 of them on the Echizen Kozo – and it has been taking me about 3 hours to get through the stack, clean up my tools, and get the paper packed for the freezer, and I have that kind of time only 4 days a week.
I hope everyone is staying safe out there, and thanks for reading!
As my tease from the last post might have suggested, I’m reprinting the fireflies. I’ve got my colors lined up:
… and I’ve done some repairs on the blocks. One of the hazards of Shina Plywood is that the top ply is pretty thin, and has a tendency to slough off, especially if you try to make a thin line across the grain.
Luckily, the thickness of this top ply is about the same as some micro-lumber I happened to have lying around. I was able to glue it down with waterproof glue for an almost seamless repair. In the left image, you see a repair I printed with — but while printing, another piece came off!!! *sigh*. On the right, a repair I hadn’t trimmed yet. It needs to be trimmed down to match the line, and also there are some areas where I need deepen the trough so I don’t get unwanted pigment spots.
In other stories of printing woes, the beginning of the end:
The takenogawa (“skin of bamboo”) doesn’t last forever. This one is on a murasaki baren I purchased in July last year. I’ve been good about rotating the cover, and using camelia oil, but it’s developing holes. It’s hanging in for the time being, but eventually I will have to bite the bullet and learn how to re-cover it.
I will leave you with another pleasantly embossed image, and evidence of further progress!
First, a tease –
Check out that nice embossing! But I’m getting way ahead of myself 😉
The 直島海岸 (Naoshima coast) print was finished awhile back. Here are some in-process images.
This paper was pretty difficult to work with because it is thick and rather rough. I have a lot of it; I will have to figure out how to make it work. On the plus side, it is really tough and stands up well to multiple impressions with vigorous baren work. And it is 100% kozo, and came to me sized. I should not be complaining! Next time I will try starting with a lot more water on the paper.
Looking back at my test prints, I see there are some registration problems with the green block. In the left image, there is green that sticks up too far, onto the top of a rock that should be mostly white. And on the right, there are some areas of green that extend past the border.
To address this, I used some micro-lumber (HO scale 2×4, I believe) I had laying around from a previous life as an architecture student. I tacked it in lightly with water-soluble glue, in case it didn’t work out.
Wellll, this did not work out so well. I don’t have a picture, but in the test after that, it was clear that not only was this change in the kento not enough to fix the problems, it introduced problems elsewhere — a margin of unprinted area just beneath many of the lines that delineate green areas like the trees.
So, the registration needed to be fixed with a knife. This was more successful!
Here’s the array of pigments I’ll be using. All but the perylene violet on the right were used on the test prints. I decided to add some to burnt sienna, which made it more red (dish at the bottom in the second shot), for a bokashi on the red block that can be seen in the most recent impression, which is shown below.
I’ve finished 8 impressions so far. Two for the key block, one for the lightest shading, two for blue, two for the reddish and orangish hues in the dishes above, and one for shading under the trees on the far shore.
The paper I am using is “Shin Hosho” from Woodlike Matsumura. 100% mulberry. It has a darker, off-white tone than the “Shin Torinoko” I am using for testing. I found I needed to use a darker hue for the first, cream-color shading block. I hope I didn’t’ go too dark too soon! The washi is on the bottom here:
Below are example prints after the 7th and after the 8th impression. I am finding it very difficult to get a nice smooth color on this paper. The color blocks are laying down a sort of granular texture despite plenty of paste and a firm baren.
I started the real run of prints on mulberry paper! I printed the entire key block first in light Payne’s gray, but wanted to darken the border and the lines on the rocks.
I think I’ve mentioned that the rock pile print might call for ‘mudabori’, or wasted carving. This is a technique where key lines are originally carved, then transferred to another block where they are carved to be printed in another color, and the original lines are carved away. It turns out I only removed a few of the lines from the lightest parts of the rocks in the foreground that will be taken care of by a block I will print in a light blue. But I did try one weird trick 🙂
Here’s what I did: I cut a piece of card stock, and used it as a mask.
Then, I did a second print run using a light sepia. To succeed, I needed to match the registration of the first impression exactly. I am pretty happy with the result! I only messed up the registration on one sheet of test paper.
Here’s one of the resulting washi sheets. Sorry about the low light, but you can probably see that the border and the rocks have lines darkened by the sepia, while the trees and distant shore still have fairly light lines.