« Mystique series ... new video on YouTube! | Main | Mystique series #11~12 : image preparation »

Mystique series #11~12 : work begins

Posted by Dave Bull at 7:30 AM, January 25, 2011 [Permalink]

Can't afford any more 'playtime' with the new video camera just now - it's time to get down to work on the next pair of prints!

There is going to be a bit of an interruption during the making of this pair. I'll be making a quick trip to Canada during the last week of February. It looks like our annual family 'reunion' won't be happening until the autumn this year, and there is no way I want to wait that long before seeing the parents/kids/grand-kids again. It'll be just for a week, but it will fall in the middle of work on these prints, so I'll be rigging the registration marks on the blocks in such a way that I can print just the 'outside' print first, then do the other one when I get back.

Anyway, we'll see more about that as we go along. For now, first job is to get the tracings ready. #12 is going to be a reproduction of a Meiji-era reproduction of an Edo-era surimono print. Actually, that's the same kind of process that I used for print #7, the Hokusai insect and moon; that too was taken from a Meiji reproduction. This one isn't Hokusai - it's one of his pupils, Gakutei.

This design uses the relatively rare technique of kime-dashi. This is related to the more common karazuri (embossing), but they are produced in quite a different fashion. More about this later, of course.

I have my own copy of this print, so scanned it in, and then brought it up in Photoshop for work. Creating a new layer in the file, I use my Wacom tablet to trace over the key lines (as you see in the photo above).

I trace in red, to make my work more visible, and make every attempt to catch as much as I can of the character of the original lines. I'm working here at 300% of the original print.

This tablet is pressure sensitive, so tracing the calligraphy is fun - it's almost possible to recreate the original brush strokes by using the pen alone.

I say 'almost' because I have nowhere near that kind of skill; I end up having to fill-in and touch up most of the lines as I go along.

So that'll be #12. #11 will be something a little bit different.

For this one, I won't be making a reproduction of anything. This is going to be an original. But don't panic ... not my original!

Last spring when I attended the large Design Festa event, there was a young girl with a booth just across from me and down a bit. I could see her display from where I sat, and - seen from a distance - I was sure she was displaying woodblock prints! There wasn't much chance to 'get away' during the show, but I did take the opportunity to go over there and see what was what.

It turned out that her images weren't prints, but were illustrations done in the style of prints, specifically ukiyo-e. We chatted a little bit about what she was doing, and it seems that she likes the old work very much, and wants to find a way to create images of her own, but following those traditions.

I picked up a few of the small note cards she was selling, and kept having a look at them during the next couple of days, while busy explaining and talking about my own work to the attendees. As we were all packing up at the end of the show, I made sure to get her contact information. I perhaps mumbled something about 'wouldn't it be interesting to make prints from some of these ...', although at that point I had no clear idea in mind about that.

Fast forward to now. My finances have eased a bit in the past couple of months, thanks to a very successful Gift Print season, and there is money in the pot to pay a designer royalty on a print (something obviously not necessary with the reproductions). So I called her up (her name is Kaori Seki, by the way), went over to her place for a visit, and the two of us went through a pile of her work, thinking about what might be suitable.

Most of what I saw that day was quite a bit too large-scale and finely detailed to be applicable to this Mystique project, but I did fasten onto an image from a series she had done on a mukashi banashi (traditional folk tales) theme. It's a picture illustrating the Urashima Tarō story.

Now this series is supposed to be about printmaking, not folk tales, but there are plenty of ways to skin a cat. She and I are going to make this print together in just the same way that the original ukiyo-e were created. A couple of days ago she delivered a sen-gaki to me. This is the sheet containing the outlines of the design - nothing about any colouring or patterns at this stage.

Rather than destroy her original by carving through it, I have scanned it in ...

... and will print it out on thin paper and paste that onto the wood. Once that 'key block' is carved, we will then do the iro-wake ... a set of colour separations. Just what it will all look like is still up in the air ...

Trust us!

Update to the post about YouTube the other day: After putting the new HD video up there, I dug back into my 'home movie' collection and uploaded a few more items. These were made before I got this new camera, so aren't in high definition, but they might be interesting nonetheless. Don't miss the 'Visit to the Seseragi Studio', recorded here one summer day a few years ago ...

The YouTube channel is here


Add Your Input

Remember Me? (with a cookie ...)

(you may use HTML tags for style)

Back to the Main Page