14 July 2006
Cutting Teeny Lines
I'm starting on the next print in the Attitudes/Tai Chi series. Here the hanshita (sketch) is pasted to the blocks. Once the hanshita is pasted, I rub the top few layers of paper off so I can see through it to the design. As you can see on the top block, I often rub too much and make holes. There are many other methods for transferring an image to the blocks, including using tracing paper so you don't have to rub off any layers, but I stubbornly keep using the common laserprint paper that I have lying around the studio.
Today I'm cutting some thin lines that will print black, including some lettering. Cutting thin lines is challenging, especially when working on plywood, which is what I use. First I use a flat-bladed knife called the hangi-to to outline all the parts that will print. The knife is angled away from the black areas in this initial cut:
In the second round of cuts, I hold the knife a small distance away from and angled toward the first cuts. A sliver of wood lifts easily up and away, outlining the delicate bit of wood that will remain. Later, larger tools are used to clear away more wood:
Today on Baren Forum, moku hanga printmaker David Bull posted a link to a friend and colleague of his who cuts way better thin lines than I do. Take a look and see how a real expert does it: Ryusei Okamoto's Carving diary