Sunday, 20 May 2007

Getting the Design onto the Woodblock.

Inked Hanshita and Cherry Block

Above is the final inked design. It's been drawn on Hanshita paper available from Baren Mall.

The paper is made up of 2 sheets lightly adhered. One is a very light fibrous paper on which the design is drawn, and the other is a heavier support.

I traced the design onto the hanshita using my animator's lightbox and a Faber-Castell permanent ink brush pen from their Pitt Artist Pen range.

I'm going to try carving in American Cherry. A local timber merchant had a piece large enough for 3 blocks of the required size. I'll carve the colour blocks on both sides, giving me the 5 impressions I need. The timber merchant machine planed the blocks for me, but I've had to smooth them down initially with a small plane, sandpaper and repeated wetting and scraping with a cabinet scraper.

I've have found no national suppliers of All-Shina plywood in the UK, which I would have used, just because it's easier to cut, but the Cherry will be good practice, and is closer to the Japanese Cherry used by Ukiyo-e artists.

The next step was to paste the hanshita onto the block, but not before making a photocopy of it. The photocopy won't be used at all, it's just for my archive. The original inking will be destroyed by the carving so I want to keep a record of it. A whole new topic on "cartoons" could start here, but I'll save that for another time.

Firstly I blobbed rice paste (pre-mixed in handy tubes from Intaglio Printmakers in the UK) onto the block and rubbed it in well. I didn't put too much on, just enough to spread very thinly across the whole block. I then dabbed the paste with my fingers to break up the smooth surface and gently rested the hanshita (with the design down, facing the block) over the paste and quickly pressed it down, trying to avoid creating any air bubbles or pulling the paper out of shape. When the paper was firmly stuck down, I peeled the support layer of paper off, leaving behind the thin paper, with the now reversed image partially visible through it. I again checked for and carefully removed any air bubbles and left the paste to dry.

Hanshita pasted on Block. Rice Paste and Support Paper to left.

Here's a lovely little tip: Camellia Oil.

Although the design is visible through the paper fibres, and you can rub away some of those fibre layers to increase the clarity of the image, Camellia oil (available from Baren Mall, other art suppliers and from eBay Japanese shops) is almost magical in the way it reveals the inked line. Literally a drop or two on the block, and quickly rub it in. It makes the paper fibres almost invisible and the inked line looks like it was drawn directly onto the block (as in wood engraving).

Camellia Oil and Block

Close-up linework after Camellia Oil is applied

1 comment:

groovyinclinations said...

Your prints are absolutely outstanding. Fantastic work! My prints are primitive at best and only complex to me. To compare it to sewing...I'm in the potholder making stage.
Mindy Wilson