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[River in Winter - 4] : Flowing water blocks ...

Posted by Dave Bull at 12:11 AM, January 1, 2008

Continued from [River in Winter - 3] | Starting point of the thread is [River in Winter - 1]

Spent the last couple of days working on the flowing water blocks ... and they're nearly done; it's gone much faster than I thought it would!

As I mentioned earlier, I'm planning six blocks for this part of the print - a variety of cool blues / greens which will overlap to hopefully produce some nice depth in the water, along with the feeling of the water rushing along.

As usual, there is a 'base' tone. This will be used to print the lightest shade - quite a light blue - and then perhaps used again later for mura-bokashi (gradations printed from uncarved block areas ...). Here is the block for this; there are only a few small areas cut out of it, these will end up as the natural paper colour ... 'highlights' in the water:

And now, before I show you the next block, there is something else to show you ... something that has never appeared on my carving bench before, not once in all the years that I have been making woodblock prints!

Wood shavings, of course .... But my desk is usually covered with shavings, no? Yes, indeed ... but never of this small 'curly' type before. Recognize what type of tool was used to produce them?

Here's another of the water blocks, the one that produced those shavings. If you click for the enlargement, you will see all the striations in the wood that will help produce the feeling of moving water. They were cut with ... a 'V' gouge.

When we move in a bit, we can see that the cutting work isn't quite finished on this block yet. As before, I'll be waiting until after some test printing before doing any more on it, but you can see the areas where the wood will be cut into more ragged shapes, rather than being left as smooth lines.

But about the V-gouge ... Yes, it's true that I've never used one before. Traditional Japanese woodblock printmaking used neither 'V' nor 'U' gouges; all cutting was done with the knife, with wider chisels then being used to clear away the un-needed waste wood. When sosaku printmaking came into being at the beginning of the 20th century, those guys used whatever tools they felt appropriate, and V and U gouges were certainly among them. But because I've only ever made reproductions of old-style prints, I've never needed those before.

(Actually, that's not 100% true. A few years back, when I was working on the Surimono Album print series, I picked up a small 'U' gouge to cut the water pattern on the reproduction I made of a Hiroshi Yoshida print. It was the only way to reproduce the appearance of the original print ... use the same tool that they must have used.)

And in fact, I don't even have a V-gouge! To do this job this afternoon, I used a horrible piece of cheap student junk that I picked up from the stationery store (school supplies).

I'm sure my 'normal' tools are embarrassed to be seen next to it; I'll have to get a 'real' one next time I'm downtown ...

The thread continues in [River in Winter - 5] ...


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