28 February 2024

Time to Start a New Blog

Dear readers.

I'm moving my blog!

It's been 19 years since I started Woodblock Dreams blog, and there are over 900 posts here. It's a valuable collection of ideas, trials and errors, tips, tricks, and comments from others that developed as I learned how to make mokuhanga prints. I still come back to it as a studio diary, to help me remember when I did certain work and what I was thinking at the time.

And now it's time for me to make a fresh start. I'll leave this blog up because I've loved it and I think there are some folks who have also loved it. No reason to take it down.

But if you'd like to follow me on my new blog, the address is:


I'd love to see you there! Thank you for being here.

26 January 2024

More About the Guardians

Rebecca Solnit recently posted on Facebook excerpts from an essay about stuffed animals that meshes beautifully with this Guardians project I'm working on. Here's a portion:

The English psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott was the first person to write seriously and with sensitivity about the business of teddy bears. In a paper from the early 1960s, Winnicott described a boy of six – whose parents had been deeply abusive to him – becoming very connected to a small animal his grandmother had given him. Every night, he would have a dialogue with the animal, would hug him close to his chest and shed a few tears into his stained and greying soft fur. It was his most precious possession, for which he would have given up everything else. As the boy summarised the situation to Winnicott: ‘No one else can understand me like bunny can.’

What fascinated Winnicott here was that it was of course the boy who had invented the rabbit, given him his identity, his voice and his way of addressing him. The boy was speaking to himself – via the bunny – in a voice filled with an otherwise all too-rarely present compassion and sympathy.

This is most likely why the response I received on social media when I posted my woodblock portrait of my old teddy bear was so instantaneous and enthusiastic. We remember.

Here are the steps in making my bear portrait.

First a pale brown, and beginning to add texture to the "bare" spot on Tedward's head.

A darker brown with a little more detail carved out.

A new shade of brown with more detail carved away.

The texture for the bare spots was made with a bit of window screen pressed into the paper.

Some shading added.

Nose and eyes to finish.

Tedward was made from a progressively carved single block (reduction print) and here's what the block looked like at the end.

17 January 2024


Last spring I was offered an opportunity to show at a gallery here in Providence RI and I decided to make a series of landscape prints. One of the prints in that landscape series was this image of Sandy Hook Elementary School where 20 children and 6 adults were gunned down in 2012.

While I was making this print I read an article in the NY Times about the investigators who worked the Sandy Hook crime scene and their experiences while handling the children's belongings. I glanced at the old teddy bear from my childhood who now lives in my studio and suddenly felt the import of this stuffed animal — the fact that it is over a half century old and that I have had the great good fortune of growing to adulthood. I suddenly felt that this stuffed bear, Tedward, could be seen as a "guardian" and I made a woodblock portrait of him in one weekend.

When I posted Tedward on Instagram the response was instantaneous and positive, and I realized that I had struck a nerve. I put out a call to my Instagram followers for photos of Childhood Guardians and I received nearly 50 submissions. I don't think I'll be able to produce portraits of them all, but I'll definitely do 20 of them in honor of the 20 children who were murdered at Sandy Hook. 💔

23 September 2023

Irene - a paper quilt

Since I told you about making momigami with washi and konnyaku a few posts ago, I thought I'd follow up and show you what I ended up doing with it. I wanted to try making a paper quilt with the idea that if it was successful I would make a whole series of them for my series "I Was a 20th Century Lesbian."

I began by printing colors on some washi and treating them with konyaku to make momigami.


I created a full-size pattern and began to construct the quilt front, a disco ball emitting colored rays. These were pieced using a sewing machine just as if I were working with fabric.

I added some sparkly acrylic paint to make the disco ball shiny.

Then I worked on the background for the ball, the colored starburst rays.

I printed squares and whiskey bottles and glasses on a single sheet of washi for the backing, also treated with konnyaku and made into momigami.

I then used cotton batting between the two sides, hand quilted them, and put a binding around the perimeter. Here is the front and back of the finished quilt.

The quilt's namesake, Irene, brought me to my first gay dance club in 1976, a venue in Troy NY called Zelda. Irene also introduced me to Jack Daniels whiskey, a relationship that lasted longer than my relationship with Irene and that ultimately became toxic.

21 September 2023

👋 Hello, my old blog. And hello to you, if you're reading. I don't know if people still read blogs, but I miss my blog if for no other reason than because it helps me immensely to write about my work. So I'm coming back to blog. I'm going to spend the next few posts just catching up on a few things, and then going forward I'll do my best to use this space as an ongoing studio journal again.

Please say hi if you stop by!

More soon…

09 March 2022

First Print of 2022


Watercolor woodblock print (moku hanga)
20 x 14 inches (43 x 28 cm) image
Made from 3 blocks, approximately 30 hand-rubbed applications of color
Edition of 4 on 26 x 19 Kitaro Kozoshi paper

I'm returning to my series of prints called I Was a 20th Century Lesbian, this time with a group of prints I'm calling "The Mysteries." This new group of prints appropriates religious language to sacralize lesbian/female eroticism/sexuality. 

As a 20th century lesbian I lived through many decades of having my sexuality demonized, in both political and personal spheres, and I’m seeking in this work to invoke the opposite, to claim my right as a human being to relate to the divine in my own way, and to proclaim the sacredness of the body. All bodies.

I carved the highlights in the "flower" shape because I wanted the two sides to be symmetrical and I didn't trust that I could do that with freehand brush-created bokashi (color blends), but it was very tricky to go from carved blends to brush blends. These curves were very difficult to create in the hard-edged medium of relief printing. You can see below my first attempt, which failed in a big way.

Here you can see the carved highlights, printed reduction style, and the sheen of the gold ink I used.
Still doesn't look too bad, but it turns out I had already gone astray by keeping the back portion of the "flower" too solid. I should have started the shading much earlier in the process.

I panicked as I kept going and saw that it wasn't working out, which caused me to overcompensate and add too much pigment too fast. I finally abandoned the image and started over.

The second try was much closer to what I had imagined.

08 February 2022

All About Konnyaku

Many many thanks to "Carpet Bomberz Inc." who left a comment on my last post with a link to an incredible video about konnyaku from NHK World. Check it (available until Jan 2, 2023).