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Mystique Series #13 : key block finished

Posted by Dave Bull at 6:48 AM, May 2, 2011 [Permalink]

Look at that - the keyblock to #13 is done already, and you didn't even know it had started!

It has been a crazy busy few days here:

  • got the senshafuda orders up and running
  • finished the colour brochure for them and got it off to the printer
  • selected the image for Mystique #13, scanned the print (this will be a reproduction), traced it, and got it pasted down for carving
  • finished up the final layout on the spring issue of the newsletter, and got it off to the printer
  • put the newsletter online (both English and Japanese versions)
  • made a trip to the tax office to register for the tax deductions I will have to be making on the payments to the Mokuhankan 'staff' for their work on the Senshafuda project
  • got a bit sidetracked by a computer sale pamphlet, ordered a new (used) laptop for the workshop downstairs, and tested some video streaming
  • the video tests looked good, so went ahead and rebuilt the Woodblock Webcam - now full motion video!
  • re-wrote the php scripts for the webcam Message Board - which is now more of a 'Chat Board' (including more than two completely wasted hours of debugging that turned out to be a misplaced comma!)
  • got 350+ envelopes ready for newsletter mailing, stuffed and mailed them all ... (including the colour brochure for the Senshafuda project)
  • something else ... can't quite remember what it was ... Oh yes, cut that keyblock!

And for the first time, nearly all the cutting work was done 'live and online', in full view of millions of viewers! Well, it could have been millions, but some of them were busy with other things, it seems. To those who did check in, thanks for watching, and for the comments and suggestions.

About this print. As I mentioned this one is a reproduction, but I have adapted it quite a bit from the original. Here's an image; this is the Library of Congress copy, which itself is a reproduction, and which they have mis-attributed - their copy was made by the Takamizawa Company, not Adachi. I have the - microscopically - identical print.

What looks at first like a genre view of a couple with musical instruments is - by the presence of an actor's mon on each person's clothing - shown to be a scene from a kabuki play. The research tells us that the shamisen player is the actor Nakamura Kiyosaburō, and it is his portion of the print that I have 'trimmed' for my own use.

The original is the type of print known as a benizuri-e (literally: red-printed picture, but actually always done in red, green and black). It was a kind of 'in between' step between prints done in black (with optional hand-colouring) and the full- colour work. When it comes time for me to print it, I will have to decide between two radically different approaches to printing, but more on that later, when we get there ...


Following comment posted by: Dale on May 3, 2011 9:29 AM

Dave, the new LIVE webcast is really terrific, and watching you carve this block was really an educational experience for me - I'd urge those who missed the live show to watch the replay(s). Those millions of missing viewers will NOT be disappointed! Meanwhile, of course, you tossed out the challenge as to whom would be first to guess the origins of #13. I tried, and as usual, failed miserably to identify the artist, but certainly learned a lot in the process about benizuri-e prints. I did find an image ...

... which led me to believe that the block you were carving had originally been done by Okumura Masanobu. Surely there was a lot of borrowing amongst artists back in the 1750's that would lead to such similarities of design. I thought it was interesting to see the two images side by side...personally, I would like to see you print #13 with the traditional red-green-black coloration as I have only seen online images of that type.

Following comment posted by: Dave on May 3, 2011 9:36 AM

I think the main reason for the similarity is that the two designers are showing the same scene from the same kabuki play. It was presumably one of the main scenes in that particular play, and of course would have been instantly identifiable.

As for the 'red/green', yes I will be following that colour scheme, and not making this one multi-colour, but even with that 'restriction', there will be some important decisions to make.

(As for the webcam replays that Dale mentioned, a selection of them is available here, although I think they will disappear as new ones come and take their place ...)

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