Printmaking

Turning Japanese #2

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My Japanese woodblock printing experiment has been progressing slowly whilst I let my fingers heal, but I have been managing to move forward in small stages every so often. Last time I introduced the method and tools, so now I’ll focus on the cutting. I had already decided to use a specific photograph for this – something challenging that would help me really get to grips with the process. The first stage was drawing out the image and separating it into three colours. This is the same process I use to establish any other multi coloured print project, so details can be seen here.

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This was transferred to the plywood using carbon paper and a fine point pen.

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Straight on with the cutting next… After carefully cutting around the first element and thinking that I had made a good start, I realised that I had cut around the element instead of cutting the element away!

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This first block is intended as a base colour with an area of white – in my haste to get on with the cutting I had made a basic error and cut away the wrong part. This block was now toast.

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I turned it over and realigned the trace sheet on the back! Waste not want not! I also made a number of notes on the block to prevent me from doing this again!

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Once I had my head screwed on right, I managed to cut the blocks without any repetition.

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The technique so far has been to remove a clear channel around the edges in order to control the image quality. I predominantly used the V gouge and small U gouge, along with the straight blade, and will use the larger U gouge to remove the rest of the ‘non-printing’ areas.

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I then used the straight blade as a chisel to strip off the high peaks. I intend to cut one of the blocks very neatly like this, and leave more texture on one of the others in order to combine effects.

There’s still more to come…

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3 thoughts on “Turning Japanese #2

  1. At this point, I am unaware of any advantages at all. It is trickier to carve, more fragile in the details and just takes more time. Like many skills perfected by the Japanese, this is just a different approach, more labour intensive and with much more experience can be controlled and mastered to produce very elegant and detailed prints. I’m just hoping for ‘promising’ or ‘reasonable’ with my efforts!

  2. I honestly don’t know how you have the patience let alone skill to realise the finished print from this point Mr Lestaret. Truly amazing.

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