07 March 2006

Barens and Speckles

Lite Yellow

Working on my "bee" print today, I printed a light/bright yellow background and then decided that I wanted it to have more texture (goma zuri) and to be a more golden color. I've found goma zuri to be easier to achieve on fresh paper than on an already-inked area, but I had an idea for how I might be able to get a good goma on this overprint. It hinged on which baren I would use.

Here are the three types of baren I have:


The first baren I got was the Murasaki baren. It's wonderful and very versatile, but because I have some repetitive stress injury in my wrist I sometimes find it too strenuous to use, especially for large areas. A ball-bearing baren was recommended to me, and that's now the one I use the most. It's smooth and requires very little pressure to get a good impression. I also tried an inexpensive plastic disk baren, which I've been very dissatisfied with. It feels good, but it doesn't deliver enough pressure for the large areas of color I generally print and no matter what I do, I always get very speckled results. But I realized that for this situation, trying to get goma zuri on an overprint, the disk baren might be perfect. So I used a deeper yellow-gold and the plastic disk baren to get this result:

Goma Yellow

Nice speckles that allow the lighter yellow to shine through. Now on to the bees.


Beth Zentzis said...

This is the kind of visual, frank information on the effects of different barens I've been hoping to find. Your blog is so open about this sort of thing, I really appreciate it. I own a disk baren, and I knew there had to be a good, functional reason a person would choose something different, but to see it in the physical, visual results really helps me to understand some of the differences. I wonder if somebody has a visual library somewhere of different tools to use for pressing (baren) together with their printing effects. Useful, but unless the photos were large the subtleties might be hard to see.

It is an investment into an image, isn't it, a real commitment when we step into a print. I'm nervous!

Annie B said...

Hi Beth,
Don't overlook the www.barenforum.org as a great source of technical information. On the main site there's a link to the "Encylopedia of Woodblock Printing" and there are entries there for almost any topic you can think of, including barens. Also a library of books about woodblock printing.
It's a commitment, yes, but also a lot of fun! It's good to do some study, but also good to just dive in and give it a whirl. That's the only way to really learn.