06 July 2005
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.