06 July 2005

Carving Tools

Moku hanga is a type of relief printing, which is the oldest and most basic of printmaking techniques. (Other examples of relief printing include linoleum prints, potato prints and rubber stamps.) In woodblock printing the artist draws a design on a block and then carves away the wood in all the areas that will not be printed.

Moku hanga can be done with any knife that is made for cutting wood or even with X-acto blades. I wanted to use Japanese hanga tools, so I bought the set above from a store called "Woodlike Matsumura" through the Baren Mall. These tools are designed for cutting side-grain blocks of wood as opposed to the end-grain blocks used in wood engraving. In the Japanese cutting method, a tool called a to is used to outline all lines and color areas. Then the unwanted areas are cleared away with u-gouges and clearing chisels in sequence. (Note, however, that my first print was carved entirely with u-gouges.)

These tools can be sharpened on water stones and should last a very long time.


Anonymous said...

Hi Annie,

You have the same set of tools I bought from the barenmall about a year ago. I am very pleased with them. Once you work out a way to keep them sharp they will keep you happy.
Only a few months ago I bought a couple of large u-shaped clearing chisels with the metal rings around the top of the handle. These can be hit with a mallet and they make the whole job much easier. I wish they came in the kit, I would have saved my hands a lot of strain. I bought a mallet from McClains and at the same time I ordered a dozen cherry blocks. Again a revelation. If a part of my design calls for fine lines I use the expensive cherry, otherwise I use birch ply.

Annie B said...

Hi Tom, thanks for the tip about using cherry just for the fine lines. And sometime soon let's talk about sharpening these tools! A bit challenging, I find. Your work is lovely.

Diseased Wits said...

Thank for taking the time to post this. It's well done and very, very helpful.

Anonymous said...

I've been working with linoleum for a few years now, but I cannot get enough detail in it and I'd like to switch to wood. The comments posted here have been very helpful. Do you have any other advice for a beginner? Please feel free to contact me.

Anonymous said...

Hello Annie,

I just happened upon your blog today and what a delightful treat! Your blog has been very encouraging and inspirational. Being able to follow your progress provides your readers with a wealth of experience and insight. I look forward to keeping up with your latest creations.

Traditionally speaking I'm a linoleum print artist, but I have been kicking around the idea of exploring woodblock printing.

Your blog and website have given me the courage to forge ahead into new territory.

Thanks for continuing with your blog - what an asset.

Sassafrass Winter Solstice

DRB said...

You might like to know that a google search for woodblock carving tools landed me here.

Rebecca Mackay said...

Hi Annie
I am a printmaker who lives in the UK and have been away from the craft for a while. I thought it would be as easy to get good tools over here as it is in Canada but I have had no end of frustration trying to find a good supplier here. But alas, the art of the woodblock print is dead over here, and needs revived. Thank god I found your blog and The Baren Mall! You would think that a place like London ( I live in Edinburgh) would have such items.

Thank you for your very informative blog. And, I wish I lived closer to McClain's!

Abdullah said...

Excellent Annie! I am not expert but learning wood carving. I am not a printmaker lives in Bangladesh. I have a same sort of tools brought from Amazon.