07 July 2005
Buddha Blocks Carved
Here are the three blocks I've carved to make the print of the Daibutsu's hands. These are 4" x 6" shina plywood blocks. Shina plywood is easy to carve and won't warp when it gets wet during printing, but it chips easily so it's very difficult to get a fine line. Moku hanga is traditionally done on solid cherry, a harder wood that will hold very fine detail and can support thousands of impressions before wearing down. Cherry is more expensive, of course. I have to admit that I'm a bit afraid of cherry at this stage in my learning.
The next step is to proof these blocks with the pigments I plan to use and then make any adjustments that need to be made to the carving.
The main thing I've learned while carving these blocks is that I need to be very patient, very gentle with the wood and not tackle any cutting when I'm tired or distracted. It's so easy to slip with the knife, to forget which wood I want to stay and which wood I need to cut away, to accidently pop off a little chip that's important to the design. I used some Elmer's wood glue for a repair and will be curious to see if that holds up with all the moisture used in printing. (Several folks on Baren Forum suggested crazy glue! I'll try it next time.) It also took a lot of concentration because each tool is held differently and has a different use. The to is pulled through the wood, the gouges and bullnose chisels are pushed, and each has a different feel. I tried every tool in the set except for the large chisels.
NOTE (11July05): The Elmer's wood glue didn't make it. I'm a crazy glue convert!