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The Woodblock.com Diversions Page

Please, take a break from your intense appreciation of my printmaking work! What you will find here are some 'diversions' - nothing serious at all, just some light little 'extras', aggregated here from various parts of the sprawling world of woodblock.com.

Some of these diversions are puzzles or quizzes (none of them needing any specific printmaking knowledge or ability), others are something to listen to, and other are just ... 'random' things, unconnected in any way with my printmaking work.

I hope you find something here to entertain you!

Ten Questions

This diversion is a set of ten questions that I posed in an issue of my Hyakunin Issho newsletter many years ago, where they were introduced like this:

Colours of Love

This one came about due to something I was puzzled with during the time that I was working on my Beauties of Four Seasons series:

The experiment was so enlightening I made an online version.

Find the Error

This one came about by mistake - an actual mistake during my work. I had left the Woodblock Webcam on 'archive' mode one day with the intention of putting together a short QuickTime video of the work. At the end of the session, I prepared the video as planned, but just as I was about to upload it to the site, I realized that I had neglected to trim out the section of the video where I had had a 'senior moment' during the work that day and done something rather silly. Rather than go back and re-edit the video, I decided to leave the error in, post the file as planned, and see if the viewers could find it.

It turned out to be surprisingly difficult for them to do so, even though the error was nothing specifically to do with printmaking, and anybody should be able to see it with no problem.

Can you spot my mistake while watching the video?

Audio Diversions

Something a little bit different. A while back I picked up a little digital audio recorder to help me with taking memos. It is already transforming the way that I work (more on this later), but over and above that, its great audio quality is providing the impetus for a whole new class of diversion here!


1) Printing with Kingfisher I thought it might be fun to create some 'Soundscapes' with my new recorder. The first one of these is a recording made during a printing session, with the recorder hanging just above my head, picking up exactly the same sounds that I myself hear during the work. We hear not only the sounds of my brushes and baren, but the ambience of the river and birds outside. And we even get lucky - there is a visit from the local kingfisher! A page with a series of photos to help you understand what you are hearing, and links to the soundscape itself is here.

2) Binaural microphone test (one minute demonstration audio file) Soon after purchasing my new recorder, I also obtained a set of 'binaural microphones' for it. These are tiny microphones that fit inside your ears, just the same way that 'earbuds' do. In fact, when I wear these microphones, nobody knows I am recording, because the general assumption is that the wires in my ears are for listening to music, not recording it! The first little test I made with them turned out to be a wonderful demonstration of the incredible 360 degree 'spatial surround' effect they produce - even with only two speakers! I just walked out my front door and down the street: a car door slams, a couple of ladies stand chatting, a neighbour says 'hello', and you'll be right there in the middle of it! Listen to the file here (but only if you have headphones - the effect is meaningless when heard through loudspeakers).

3) Christian Plouvier Flute Concert. European flutist Christian Plouvier comes to Japan to give concerts frequently, and I had the opportunity to hear one of them this year (spring 2009). I used my little recorder to 'eavesdrop' on the concert, and now, you can hear some of it too. Please visit the concert page to have a listen, and perhaps you might also like his CD ...

4) Visiting Sensoji temple ... I also used the little binaural microphones when making one of the videos that documents the production of our version of the famous Hokusai Great Wave print. It's just the last few minutes of the video (starting at about 11:00) that uses surround sound, but it serves very well to give you a very immersive experience, as you slowly approach the temple along with the other early morning strollers and the birds ...

Time Lapse Videos

You have read about the audio 'diversions' I have created using the Zoom recorder ... now it's time for some video diversions!

And again, the impetus was the arrival of a new toy - the Recolo Interval Recorder. This is an inexpensive little digital camera designed to take timelapse videos. It's not a video camera per se; it simply takes a stream of single shots - at an interval you set - and then saves the output as a single video file. You can adjust the settings as you wish, from as fast as a single shot every three seconds, to as slow as one every day!

Because I rather suspect that I will be taking a number of videos with this toy, I think I'll put them up on YouTube, rather than try and host them all myself.

1) Clouds: Here's one of the first ones I have made with this camera. It captures two hours of 'sky' from my upstairs window, compressing the action into just over a minute and a half. Nothing much seems to happen at first, but watch over on the right hand side, as some small black clouds enter the scene ... and then while that 'invasion' proceeds, the upper clouds just keep flowing in their original direction ...

2) Thief! This one is fun ... showing a night-time visit from a Loquat Robber!

Here's a page with an explanation (and more photos) of that episode ...

I'll be uploading more as I make them onto my YouTube Channel. Please head over there and take a look!

Miscellaneous Diversions

Unrelated to those quiz-type diversions, but perhaps of passing interest, is the page showing how I built the teleprompter that I have used to make some of the video clips on this site ...

Even more unrelated is a page of instructions on how to replace the hard drive in an iPod!