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Small Print Collection: Print #9


David's New Year card for 1998

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This was the print that I made at the beginning of 1998 - as I was ready to begin the final year of work on the 100 Poets collection. By that time, even though there were still ten prints yet to go in that series, I was already thinking a lot about what sort of work to do next.

I have told you how I used these new year prints as a chance to try out printmaking techniques that I was unable to use in the poetry set, and it was much the same kind of consideration that drove my thoughts about the future project. Whatever it was going to be, it would have to be something that offered plenty of chances to 'stretch out'.

As I browsed through my various books on prints, making notes on which ones I found interesting and attractive, I found myself again and again coming back to the surimono genre - prints commissioned by poetry circles for exchange among the members of the group. These prints were produced without any consideration of economics - they used the finest paper and materials, and top-level artisans were hired for the production, even though the 'editions' were very small indeed.

I started to think about the possibility of making a series of surimono prints, but I had to wonder if I would be able to produce work of such a fine quality. So that year, when it came time to select a design for my new year card, I picked out one of the surimono designs I had been studying - an image of uta-karuta by Hiroshige - trimmed a postcard-size section of it, and set to work.

It had some of the typical features of surimono prints: very delicate carving and special techniques such as karazuri (embossing) and sho-men-zuri (front rubbing).

I thought it turned out quite well, and this little 'experiment' went a long way to helping me make my mind up about creating some kind of surimono project the following year ... the project that was to become my five year series of Surimono Albums.