21 January 2016

A Sample Print for Students

I've been invited to be a visiting artist at Maine College of Art's printmaking department in February, and since our time is limited (basically 12 hours) I'm going to try bringing some sample blocks for students to print with before carving their own. I've never done it in that order before — print and then carve — but it makes sense for a short class. Trying out printing first could help them in working out the color separations on their own blocks, they can carve their blocks while I'm still there, and then they can do most of their printing on their own after I'm gone. We'll see how that works out. If it's successful, I may start doing it in my longer workshops too.

[A note to mokuhanga aficionados:  I tried a whole bunch of different papers from Awagami plus Rives Heavyweight (cotton) plus my beloved Echizen Kozo and I was stunned at the results. My #1 preference for each of the three versions you'll see below was Rives Heavyweight! Weird, as I assumed washi would be way better to print with. You never know until you experiment…]

Here are the blocks I carved for the class and a few test prints for demonstration.

The four blocks, carved and ready to start printing.

A quick test of the blocks using plain copy paper, checking registration and print behavior of each block, plus trying out a few colors.

Another batch of prints using similar colors but adding some bokashi (blends). I'm also testing different kinds of papers.

Another color palette and intentional use of goma-zuri (speckle) printing to show how texture can be used to add interest to very simple blocks.

One more variation showing more uses of bokashi, gomazuri, and white overprinting.


Melody Knight Leary said...

I like seeing all of the variations. This will give the students a good idea of the possibilities.

I did something similar recently. I had
students work up a small plate using an inexpensive matrix called Sintra. They carved, incised lines and pressed textures into small plates. Once they had finished, they were able to print in relief and intaglio with a few variations thrown in. This was meant to introduce them to the studio layout, how to use inks, presses and barens, and the printing process in general. My thought was that once they had a quick overview of the process they would be able to create their plates with a more informed sense of what the possibilities were. It worked quite well.

Annie B said...

That's good to hear, Melody, thanks. My thinking is along the same lines. When it comes to Japanese style woodblock prints, it's the printing rather than the carving that's so different from western woodcuts, so why not emphasize that.