27 January 2016
Watercolor woodblock print
13 x 13 inch image (33 x 33 cm) on 17 x 19 inch (43 x 48 cm) Shioji washi
I finished carving the halftone Buddha block a couple of days ago and today I finished printing a small two-color edition. I'm trying a new paper that I got from Woodlike Matsumura, an inexpensive handmade 100% kozo called Shioji.
I expected the printing to be fairly easy, since I'm just using two colors, but when it comes to moku hanga, "easy" isn't really a word that fits. Of course there were issues.
The first issue came up while I was putting down a base layer of pink with an uncarved block. To get full coverage i found that I had to print the pink four times, which was hard on the paper and caused it to wrinkle. Next time I'll try wetting the paper a little more from the beginning to see if I can get the color I want in fewer passes. You can also see in the photo above that there's a darker line on each of the prints. That's a spot where two sections of veneer (I'm using a plywood) are joined on the surface of the wood. They use some kind of thin white tape under the veneer where the joins are and in a wide expanse like this the tape changes the profile of the wood just enough that it prints. (Hat tip to Andrew Stone and Andrea Starkey for a long troubleshooting conversation on Facebook a few months ago that helped ferret out what causes this to happen with shina plywood.)
After the four layers of pink, I let the paper dry and then re-wet it for the purple halftone layer. It was tricky to find just the right amount of pigment, paste and moisture to print the halftone so there was enough ink for the impression to be dark and strong but not so much that any of the smaller holes would fill in. I'll admit that I lost a couple of sheets of paper in the process.
More to come in this series.