12 February 2015

A Real Fake: Carving a Keyblock

NOTE, ADDED 2/13/15: See next post for more discussion of carving thin lines.

There was a discussion a week or two ago on the Facebook page of the Baren Forum (a group dedicated to watercolor woodblock printing) about carving fine lines on shina plywood, so I wanted to address this post to that topic. Many woodblock artists insist that a fine keyblock can't be cut on shina (a Japanese wood related to bass wood or linden) and must be cut on a harder wood like maple or cherry. The Japanese ukiyo-e masters used cherry. However, I've found that for my purposes shina is OK for fine lines. I use a Japanese knife tool called a hangi-to, which resembles an X-Acto blade, to cut on either side of the line work. Then I clear around the knife lines with gouges.

Below is the key block for my "A Real Fake" print with the paper hanshita (sketch) removed. Now I'll go back in with my knife and touch up the lines to make some of them thinner still.

For more info on cutting lines, see this blog post.


Andrew Stone said...

Beautifully cut. It's the going back again with the knife that I find hard. I find it hard to control the exacto or Toh when there's little wood left...from which to shave. This looks lovely.

Annie B said...

I use an X-Acto for that second round. I can't control the hangi-to well enough for that either. And of course the obligatory double pair of reading glasses :)

Anonymous said...

It´s really a fascinationg project
and your way to deal with "real fake" seems to me meeting the point.
Cutting fine lines in shina also worked quite well for me, but the real problem is the poor quality of shina plywood I can buy in the artstores here in Germany. Very thin layers badly glued together. So it happens rather often that the upper layer is getting lost in small lines.

Annie B said...

Thanks dewitz. Your work is beautiful -- I see that you use moku hanga quite often. Sorry to hear that your shina plywood is not good quality. I occasionally find a piece where the glue is bad, but not too often.