25 September 2007

Hanshita Made Easy


A long while ago I saw a post on the Baren Forum blog about a moku hanga workshop that Mike Lyon had taught in Connecticut. In an accompanying photograph, I saw that Mike had his students paste their scanned and inverted sketches face up on the block and simply cut through the paper. This is in contrast to the rather tedious method I was taught, where the sketch is pasted face down and then the back of the paper is carefully rubbed off until the remaining paper is nearly transparent. I've actually gotten blisters on my fingers from rubbing away the paper on many blocks in one sitting!

Anyway, I always meant to try Mike's method and today I finally did. These three blocks are tracings from three different satellite views of a glacier in Greenland that's breaking up. I traced them, scanned my tracings, blew them up to size and flopped them for output. Then I pasted the computer printouts onto the blocks face up. Ready to cut!



Mike Lyon said...

Hi, Annie! Two cautions (a bit too late for your glacier print, though)...

Most important is that your reverse hanshita 'must' contain your kento (or other registration) -- it isn't usually 'good enough' to just use the paper corner and side for registration. Most (maybe all?) printers and copiers do NOT print the image in the same place on the paper and there can be LARGE (greater than 1/16 inch) variations -- you can check this by printing the same image several times and then squaring up the paper and holding against a light -- I think you'll see some significant 'out of register' (I do)! So ALWAYS include registration -- that way you will get more reliable results.

Second caution is more subtle, but important for very tight registration -- that's that the paper has thickness, so there's a sort of parallax -- carved areas are either too wide or too narrow (by about the thickness of the sheet) depending on the angle of the toh.

Anyway, this is a 'cheat' I use sometimes in order to get a student with an ambitious plan up and running more quickly.

I don't recall whether I described this part in what you read, but the way I do it is to cover the block with thin paste very quickly, pat it so the paste gets tiny 'peaks' (makes it easier to get the sheet down fast and flat), and then quickly lay the sheet down and pat it flat, trying NOT to stretch it as it becomes damp. Then let 'dry' for up to an hour and begin carving. Seems to work well!

Good luck,


Annie B said...

Thanks for the additional info, Mike! I'm a great admirer of your fearless innovations to the centuries-old traditions of moku hanga.

Yes, the kento marks should be included on the hanshita. I wasn't able to do it on this sketch, though, because I was maxing out my laser printer for the size of this print. On this design it will be fine because there are no tight registration areas to consider. However, the limitations of my laser printer will be a very big obstacle on some large prints I'm planning to do next.

The paper stretching as it's applied to the block seems almost inevitable. It seems to stretch more in one direction than the other, too. What I aim for is to have the same degree of dampness and stretch on each hanshita -- quite a feat but it can be done.

Yes, I noticed that the thickness of the paper was affecting my cutting -- not hampering it in any way, but that the cut areas were "smaller" on the block than on the sketch. I adjusted my knife angle accordingly. (I think!)

I find moku hanga to be an interesting blend of art and science; serendipity and technique. Thanks as always for the help.

Anonymous said...

Hi Annie,

I have never done the rubbing business or the xerox solvent process. I paste my printed hanshita straight onto the block, but I use a more complex method.

Try printing your hanshita onto standard tissue paper, as used for wrapping gifts. I often buy mine all folded up and in garish colours, but white works best. This thin paper will not go smoothly through your printer unless it is fixed to a backing sheet. Use spray adhesive on standard printing paper. The tissue will sit flat onto this sheet if you take a little care to smooth it out.

Since you can see through the tissue you could now transfer the hanshita to the block, but the inked surface would meet with the wet glue which will give a little bleeding. To avoid this problem you will need to remove the tissue and flip it over and re-adhere it to backing sheet so that it will end up with the inked surface facing up. Again, if you smooth out the tissue you will not have any registration problems.

I find that gum arabic is best for gluing down the hanshita, it has the most tack without excess water. Lay the hanshita down onto the gummed block and carefully peel off the backing sheet. It should come away without tugging at the tissue paper. Any air bubbles should be patted out.

As Mike said, you need your kento printed onto the sheet. When I do my designs I have a 2 pixel border around the entire print margin. This helps to check for any possibly distortion in the transfer of the hanshita, but more importantly it provides a clear set of kento marks.

This method is a little fiddly, but it works perfectly.

Annie B said...

Hi Tom,

Do you use an inkjet printer? Mine is a laser printer, so I don't know how well toner would adhere to tissue paper. Interesting that you use gum arabic to adhere hanshita to block. I'm keen to try that.

Anonymous said...

I use an inkjet Cannon i9950 printer which is able to print A3 sheets, necessary to make oban-sized prints.

Not sure about laser printers, but the surface of the tissue paper is no different to any other paper. Once adhered to the backing it is very strong. There is usually one side that is slightly glossy and I face this side up to take the ink.

When I use the term tissue I am not talking about the porous paper that you might blow your nose into, but the thin wrapping paper that a florist might use. When you look into it there is a huge range of thinner papers, any of them can be adapted for a computer printer if you use a backing sheet.

Thin papers are the way to go, they adhere better when reduced to small areas and they allow for more accurate carving.

Marissa L. Swinghammer said...

I tried that method last time and liked it a lot. Though getting all traces of the paper and paste can be a bit of a pain. I found that I missed some and didn't realize it until printing, though it didn't effect my image it just frustrated me. But I certainly plan on using it again.