27 November 2016

Japanese Print Party

We had a free day in Tokyo, Japan recently.  On the basis of a recommendation from a Whangarei printmaker at a workshop I attended a month or so ago, I arranged for Catherine and me (and Margaret, her sister) to have a morning shot at Japanese printmaking. This happened at Mokuhankan a print making facility in the Asakusa district within a short walk of the Senso-ji Temple - the oldest temple in Tokyo. The print workshop is run by David Bull, an English-born Canadian, who has lived in Tokyo for over 25 years. The procedure for the event is to pay a fee of $20 and for that you have the opportunity and guidance to make your own prints from existing woodblocks.

I learned a lot from David Bull.  The design, woodblock production and printing are traditionally carried out by separate craftsmen in Japan . Unusually, David does both block cutting and printing. He also has a staff who also assist with both. I was interested in the differences between the Japanese and other printmaking methodologies that I'm used to. For instance the ink is water based, it is applied by brush rather than roller and a baren is used rather than a press. The effects are very pleasing.

Print Bench (red, blue, yellow, black colours) and blocks

Note brushes for applying ink and baren for pressure. (Photo: Margaret Prentice)

Catherine and I both did three prints each and Catherine produced the least flawed print! Margaret took photos!


Back home, I looked at David's videos of his production of his own woodblock and prints of the famous print by Hokusai, "The Great Wave" - a marvellous exposition of attention to detail and craftsmanship. Very well worth looking at the "Wave ..." production here and his work more generally here.

Catherine's Print