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Posted by Dave Bull at 9:45 PM, November 11, 2006

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.

Monday, November 13, 2006

(Here's the print in context in the Small Print Collection.)


Following comment posted by: Marie on November 23, 2006 12:06 PM

I wonder if anyone else is having trouble with their display case for this set?

Mine has completely dis-assembled at this point, after having some issues earlier on.

Luckily, I have my Hanga Treasure Chest display case to put my prints in and show them off! I'm using the Small Print case to just store the prints not on display.

Following comment posted by: Dave on November 23, 2006 12:24 PM

Mine has completely dis-assembled ...

Good grief ... if you are having problems with any of my prints/cases, please let me know! I can't fix anything if I don't hear about it! Please write to me and let me know what sort of problem you are having.

I too, am a 'collector' of these prints, and have a set on display on my desk as I write. The glue on the little piece of fabric that holds the back flap (foot) in place is looking a bit loose, and I'm thinking that I will have to re-glue it soon, but other than that, the case is fine.

Waiting for your email ...


Following comment posted by: Dave on November 23, 2006 12:57 PM

OK, I've had a response from the collector:

Thank you for your super speedy response! My case just does not want to seem to stay together!

I've had problems with the last two or three prints getting them in the front display area because the side pieces are not attached to the box part at all. So it is hard to get the glass and print lined up to close the cover flap that covers the top part of the box where the prints go in.

The little flap on the back has also come undone in the last week or so.

With the last print, the bottom bar that hold the print came undone as well after I pulled out print #8. It was actually stuck to the print instead of the box! It is kind of hard to explain, but I assume if you have one of the cases on hand it will make sense.

I just wanted to see if anyone else was having problems before I bothered you with it! Maybe it is the conditions in my apartment? Like I mentioned, I can display the prints just fine in the Hanga display case, so please don't feel like you have to make a new one and send it.

Wow! I'm not sure what to think of this. It seems as though there is no glue holding it together? Or something in the environment there has caused the glue to stop holding?

Anyway, no question, I'll send you a replacement, and will check it over thoroughly before sending it off.

Also, I've just written to all the other collectors of this series, asking them to report any problems with their cases. Let's see what replies come in ...


Following comment posted by: Kate on November 23, 2006 1:12 PM

No problems with case.

Following comment posted by: Marc on November 23, 2006 1:31 PM

I liked the case so much, I asked Dave if he would sell me 2 more, so that I could use them to display some of his more recent new years cards and some other small print. I have 3 of the cases. No problems yet.

Following comment posted by: Dave on November 23, 2006 2:36 PM

Here's one more just in (via private email):

Actually, I have the same problem. The glue isn't holding the back tab which allows the stand to work. And the frame that holds the plastic square is coming all apart as well. I'll probably just reglue all the pieces when I get around to it It is a minor annoyance, though.

So it does seem as though we have a problem here!

Following comment posted by: Lauren on November 23, 2006 2:38 PM

Actually, mine's falling apart also. The two side pieces that hold the glass in place have become unglued, and I kind of have to hold the whole thing together when I open or close it. The rest of it's holding together fine--and I had no trouble at all with the Hanga Treasure Chest case.

Following comment posted by: Dave on November 23, 2006 3:34 PM

Woo-hee! Well ... one was a quirk; two is a question ... three is a stampede!

No doubt about it, we're going to need some kind of 'Repair/Replacement' program put in place here.

I've just gone through a half-dozen cases picked at random from my stockroom (I have a lot of these cases here), and can't see any problems with them; the parts are tightly stuck together ... But it's very cold here, and my first guess is that the glue holding them together is maybe something that softens up in a warm environment.

Let me wait a bit until more reports are in, then I'll write to everybody with info on what to do ...


Following comment posted by: Dave on November 24, 2006 8:11 AM

OK, a few more reports have come in overnight - some positive, some negative:

  • Mine is perfect so she must have a lemon...
  • So far mine is doing great. When the last print arrived I was thinking how completely you think through the entire process, even to the storage and display.
  • I had minor trouble with the case. The parts on both sides of the clear plastic sheet went off. I glued them back and so far, so good...
  • The adhesive on the framework on one side has come loose so it is necessary to carefully put the new prints in for display.

So it's becoming pretty clear - there was obviously a batch of cases that were glued together improperly ... Or perhaps, they all were, and it's just now that they are starting to come apart. Perhaps the rest will develop this same problem in the future ...

Anyway, the solution is obvious; I've still got plenty of cases here in stock, and I guess I'll offer everybody a choice:

  • You re-glue your case by yourself, and I'll send you 'something' :-) in compensation ...
  • I'll send you a replacement (carefully checked and re-glued before shipping) ...

I'll prepare something on this, and will send it out to everybody shortly ...

One of these people also wrote:

The case is too small to keep anything but the prints in. The accompanying descriptions I have had to store elsewhere.

... which I really don't understand, as that part of the case is completely 'set' in dimension, and isn't affected by these glue problems.

Following comment posted by: Dave on November 28, 2006 10:06 AM

A few more reports in ...

  • No problems whatsoever. Thanks for asking!
  • No problems
  • My case is absolutely fine; nothing is loose
  • No problems here - one small print collection, one hangu treasure chest, everything looks quite solid. One thing I wonder is if some folks are trying to force the print into the slot that holds the glass in the small print collection case? There isn't anywhere near enough room in there, but if you did it, you'd certainly push the side bars loose. My guess would be some kind of environmental problem (humidity, perhaps?)

Following comment posted by: Dave on December 19, 2006 12:41 AM

OK, here's the way to resolve this problem with a certain number of the cases ... this letter went to all the Small Print Collection customers (included with the final print of the set):

To the collectors of the 'Small Print Collection' ...

Here we are at the end of the series - so quickly! I've had fun working on this series; it's been a new experience for me, doing the same kind of work that 'real' printers do - namely pulling editions from older blocks. Any number of times I found myself wondering, "What was this carver thinking about when he did it this way?!" :-)

I also have to let you know (perhaps you already know!) about the problem with the cases. A couple of weeks back, I heard from one of the collectors that she was having problems with the case. It seems that the glue had softened over time (or in a warm environment), and the components of the case started to come apart.

I checked with a number of the other collectors, and got a mixed response; many had no problems, but some did report similar problems. Obviously, I have to take care of this, but am not quite sure about the best way to do so, given that I don't know which of the cases I sent out are 'good', and which are 'bad'. Let's try this - make your selection from one of these options ...

- you've had problems with the case, but have glued it together yourself. Let me know, and I'll send you a 'little something' from my catalogue as an expression of apology for the trouble.

- you're having problems with the case, but don't want to mess around with it. I understand completely; let me know and I'll send a (carefully glued) replacement at no cost to you.

- your case seems to be OK. I'm not sure about this one, as it might be a problem waiting to surface later. Check it out carefully, and if you want me to send a replacement, let's do that anyway, as I really would like to avoid problems years down the road ...

My apologies for this problem; the company in China who has been making the cases for me in recent years has done an excellent job so far. I think in this case, they slipped up because the fabric I selected is fairly 'slippery', and the glue thus doesn't adhere well.

Anyway, let's get it fixed one way or another ...

Thank you so much for your support this year ... I still haven't decided what will be happening here next year, but when I do work it out, I'll let you know!


Following comment posted by: Dave on March 5, 2007 10:22 AM

Update: Finally ... replacement cases have been sent out to those who requested them. Crazy to take so long to fix this problem, but 'more important' work just kept getting in the way ... :-(

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