« More introductory videos ... | Main | [River in Summer] - How the print is made »

My Solitudes project ... off and running!

Posted by Dave Bull at 8:15 PM, May 2, 2007

After a month or so of preparation, today saw the first work actually involving wood!

The first chapter of the book is written and now being translated by Sadako; the book design is pretty much finalized; the paper(s) for the books have been selected and ordered; the heavy paper-folding machine arrived last week (for use in the bookbinding stage), and the jigs that Ichikawa-san will use to sew the books together are built and ready for testing ...

Let's see ... what else was there ... ?? Oh yes, the first design is down on paper!

I'm not going to put that out here in public just yet - you'll have to let me get a bit further along first - but I do intend to be showing plenty of the process as we go along, so you'll have plenty of chances to see it ...

The process starts with the bare wood of course, and the plank I've selected for this print is a bit special ... it's a piece I've had for nearly 30 years!

On one side of the wood there are two 'stamps'; one is the date - 53.8.8 (that's August 8th 1978 ... Showa 53), and the second is the mark of the publishing house Yuyudo.

So what's this all about?

On my first trip to Japan, back in the winter of 1981, I visited the Yuyudo company and met Saeki-san, the owner. The purpose of my visit was two-fold: in a display in a department store I had seen the Okada Yoshio prints that Yuyudo had published, and wanted to purchase a set, and I also wanted to glean what information I could about printmaking. At this time I had only made a couple of test prints (back in Canada), and was a bit desperate to learn more about 'real' printmaking.

Anyway, long story short, I did get the prints that day, but Saeki-san also let me purchase a few planks of wood from his stock - a very nice gesture indeed. Upon my return to Canada, I used these planks for my next printmaking attempts, and then put the blocks aside ...

The years went by ... in 1986 I moved to Japan to get serious about learning printmaking, but left nearly all my possessions in storage back in Canada. Sometime in the mid 1990's I had them all sent over ... books, musical instruments, tools, etc. etc., and ... a box with the blocks used for those early printmaking experiments.

More years go by, and the blocks quietly sleep in their box ... until last year, when I was going through some of the boxes and came across them. The carving is rough and amateur, and there is no point at all in preserving the work, but the wood! Saeki-san really gave me good stuff! I hadn't realized it at the time, but the wood is dense, fine-grained, and well seasoned. It is also thick enough to allow them to be re-used, so that is what I have done.

I got my planes out, and selecting one of the planks, cut away the carved part of one face, planing down until I reached a flat surface of untouched wood. I then dressed it smooth with a scraper blade, and here she is ... a beautiful piece of cherry, nicely seasoned for nearly thirty years!

(It's interesting to think about somebody coming across this block many years from now ... a design by David purportedly published in 2007, but the evidence of this mark would seem to imply a Yuyudo edition of the late 1970's ... I guess they'll have fun trying to figure it all out!)

Because of the planing, it's now a bit thinner than usual, so to avoid warping problems once I start printing, I've screwed a piece of wood to each end of it. I've made these a bit large on one side, so they will keep the underside of the plank also safe from scratching.

Next step will be to paste down the tracing and get carving!


Following comment posted by: gary on June 17, 2007 10:56 PM

Just curious, how long has Yuyudo been publishing?
What kind of tools do you use for carving?


Add Your Input

Remember Me? (with a cookie ...)

(you may use HTML tags for style)

Back to the Main Page