04 July 2005
First Woodblock Print
In April I took a three-day workshop at nearby Snow Farm with printmaker Matt Brown. Matt works in the traditional Japanese style of woodblock printing, called moku hanga. While most western woodblock printing is done using oil-based inks and a press, moku hanga uses water-based pigments and the impressions are taken by hand-rubbing with a device called a baren.
This is the print I made at that workshop. A lot was packed into just 3 days, but under Matt's guidance I was able to complete an edition of 30 prints. I carved 5 shina plywood blocks for 5 colors and the paper used was domestic etching paper. The prints are 4" x 6."
I fell absolutely and totally in love with moku hanga in those 3 days. After 15 years as a digital illustrator, I'm not used to working with my hands on an alive material like wood. What an awakening this is! How much I've been missing! The tactile qualities of the wood, the scratchy sound of the knife cutting across the grain, the swishing of the horsehair brush, the thrill of making a perfectly smooth batch of rice paste, the frustration of trying to find just the right baren pressure for each block to print the way I want it to. I'm loving the challenge and the sensuality of it even as I curse the fact that there's no "undo" command to use when the wrong little chip of wood goes flying out from under my knife. So now the real work begins! Now begin the months and years of honing all the skills needed to make truly great woodblock prints.
This blog will journal that process.