09 August 2005
Sharpening the Tools
The first time I printed my "Tea" print I used 5 blocks. This time I'll be using 8 blocks because I want more control over the color. I've been cutting these blocks over the past few days, and cutting blocks means sharpening tools!
The tools I'm using are Japanese tools and in the Japanese tradition all sharpening is done with water stones rather than oil stones. I've been using two basic stones, a medium and a fine, which sit on my carving table soaking in water as I carve. When the tool begins to get harder to use (that is, when my hand or arm starts to hurt!) I remember to sharpen the tool. Sharpening the straight edges has been easy to learn, but I'm also using a lot of curved u-gouges and I'm finding these very challenging to sharpen. I watched Matt Brown do it once at the workshop I took last Spring, but now that I've handled the tools more, I need a real sharpening lesson.
I recently made contact with a terrific moku hanga artist who lives close to me, Lynita Shimizu, so perhaps I can visit with her sometime soon and get a proper education in sharpening. (I haven't asked her yet, but her prints are so beautiful she must know how to sharpen a blade!) For now, I'm just happy if the tool cuts better after my clumsy attempts to hone the blade.